Yay! The Good Beer Week Gala Showcase was back on this year, and (spoiler alert), it was great.

The night didn’t come too soon, as, due to various personal commitments, the extended beer crew had been taking a bit of a break. This meant less drinking, less socialising, and less writing about great craft beer. The Gala Showcase was the way to get back into it.

Good Beer Week isn’t until May, but the Showcase is a bit of a preview event. It’s the time to get the program for the week, talk with friends about what you’re looking forward to, and maybe even get a preview of some of the beers that will be debuted later in the year. It’s a small(ish) night, but a great night.

Of course there were some newer breweries at the event, and this is the perfect event to take a look. The new guys are all keen to get some interest, and that’s half the fun!

Hawkers – the new big boys

Who needs a good picture when you have good beer?

Hawkers are pretty new to the Melbourne beer scene, showing up late last year with a brand new, state of the art brewery in Reservoir.

Hawkers’ beer was great, even beating Boatrocker in a blind tasting on the night. This actually came as a bit of a surprise seeing as the brewery was founded by 961‘s Mazen Hajjar, which, at least in this writer’s opinion, wasn’t that great. But this just goes to show that, even with the same brewer, different breweries have different ideas and goals, and the beer can be wildly different.

It’s great to see Hajjar investing so heavily in Australia. They came to the night with a pale ale, a Pilsner, and an IPA. They were all great, particularly the IPA. Let’s see what they come up with next.

Other newbies

Blackman’s Brewery, who were founded in 2014, made an appearance with some very good beer. There weren’t any huge standouts with them, but the beer was good and would be nice to sit on for a bit. As the brewery finds their style over time, it will be really good to see where they go!

The guys from Swell Brewing Co also came down from South Australia. Nice guys, and really funny. The type of guys who all they want to do is drink good beer and go surfing (but probably not in that order!). They’re doing simple beers for the beach bums, so don’t expect anything experimental or overly complex, but sometimes that’s a good thing!

And we gotta praise Exit

Exit Brewing are causing a lot of excitement with each of their small batches of beer – they’re up to #006, a saison, which went down well at the event. These guys have a new beer at every event, so it’s exciting to see what they have in store.

It also seems like Fraser from Exit is quickly earning a reputation as one of the nicest guys around, so it’s always a pleasure to see him, try his new beer, and find out what he’s doing next.

And then the socialising

‘Socialising’ with a bunch of Untappd nerds

Ultimately, these things are all about being with friends and enjoying yourself. Everybody was genuinely excited to be there, talk about beer, and get geared up for Good Beer Week, and that’s exactly the point.

All the brewers are more than happy to have a chat since it’s a relatively smaller event, so it’s a good opportunity to learn about a brewer, what they’ve done, what they’re going to do, and just beer in general.

It makes Good Beer Week sound even more exciting!