Five Minutes With James Smith (aka Crafty Pint)

For those that don’t know, how did Good Beer Week come about?

A few people having beers at Beer DeLuxe in Fed Square back in February 2011 decided there should be an event where large numbers of brewers descended on Melbourne for the annual Australian International Beer Awards. A couple of days later, one of those people suggested stretching it out to contain a full week of events and thus the name “Good Beer Week” was born.

Subsequently, a small group of us were overcome by some sort of evangelical zeal and the festival ended up with 50-odd events. All those who attended had an amazing time and we realised something incredible was happening in the Australian beer world that we had to tap into and amplify. We have managed to achieved this, with a lot of perspiration, inspiration and enthusiasm from the wider beer world.

Enthusiasm to the point where it’s been called the best in the world by some of the world’s leading breweries (eg Brooklyn Brewery from New York) and has inspired similar ‘Good Beer Weeks’ elsewhere in Australia. Believe it or not, Tokyo Beer Week was inspired by us after one of the brothers who owns Kiuchi Brewery / Hitachino Nest came here and was blown away.

What I love about Good Beer Week is that it caters for all levels of beer enthusiasts. For someone new to good beer, how would you recommend they navigate the week?

First up, try to get your hands on an official print program, which are at all participating venues. From mid-April, a second distribution landed at around 70 of the best breweries and beer venues outside Victoria as part of a competition run with Tourism Victoria. Alternatively, jump online ( and have a look at the Beer 101 events. We’ve split the program into five streams to make it as easy as possible for people to find the right event for them.

Beer 101 is run with Little Creatures and is where you’ll find fun and approachable events for newcomers, including a series of master classes at Creatures’ Dining Hall too.

That said, a newcomer could just as easily pick the brains of friends who has been before or be taken under the wings of a beer lover.

Pick a degustation from the foodie stream that is in line with your dining tastes – this year we have BBQ, fine dining, all manner of Japanese feasts and much more. Then there’s live music, comedy, ghost tours, mountain biking and all sort of fun events where you’ll try and learn about beer while doing something other than just sit, drink and chat.

What do you think is the best thing about Good Beer Week?

The spirit of community. Yes it’s about celebrating the wonderful and growing world of beer in all its many facets, but Good Beer Week would be nothing without the people who make it happen: the people running the festival and events, the brewers who join the festival and share their passion and most of all, the tens of thousands of people that come from all over Australia and even overseas to join in the fun.

It’s a not-for-profit grass roots festival that is designed to be a joyous time, while also educating and engaging people as much as it entertains and excites them – it’s certainly not a swill fest. You end up with people coming together in shared experiences and meeting like-minded people, which makes the whole thing more than just an event. I’ve met so many people who have longstanding friends they first met at Good Beer Week events – even people who have shifted their careers towards beer, simply because of their experience at the festival!

Thanks for the chat Crafty. I already have my Good Beer Week planned out and safe to say I will be having a few alcohol-free days in early June. I could start on 25 May but past experience has proven it’s best to slowly ween myself off successive beery nights as opposed to cold turkey.

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