Everything You Need To Know About Free The Hops Craft Beer Festival

By Brooke Darling
26th Sep 2016

It’s true, our infatuation with craft beer is here to stay, so what better way to celebrate our enduring love than with our very own craft beer festival!

Free the Hops launched for the first time in 2015, and with an explosion of boutique beer pouring across the Coast and some insanely cool new breweries in the mix, we reckon there’ll be plenty of good vibes flying at this year’s event. Commencing with a mini festival on opening night then followed by intimate hops appreciation events in venues across the Coast, here’s everything you need to know about Free the Hops Craft Beer Festival, 2016 edition.

Launch Event: Homegrown | Saturday, October 1

Without question, this opening shindig is one you don’t want to miss. Kicking off with a bang, Homegrown is the biggest event of the week, with 1000+ hops lovers expected to converge on the mini fest site in Southport. Chat with the faces behind the brews and purchase all manner of tasty drops from pop-up bars by Black Hops, Burleigh Brewing, Balter, Fortitude, Beard and Brau, and Stone & Wood. Adding to the festivities will be food trucks, live musos such as Donny Love and Yes Sir Noceur, and the epic comradery of collectively acknowledging our love for beer.

Where: Corner Young Street and Regent Lane, Southport
When: Noon to 10pm
Details: Free entry before 6pm, $10 afterwards; family-friendly

Oktoberfest at Bine | Sunday, October 2

Teaming up with much-loved Stone & Wood, Gold Coast’s first dedicated craft beer bar, Bine is throwing their own European-style beer bash with loads of prizes up for grabs and the Stone & Wood crew on hand to banter about what it takes to be voted one of the country’s best breweries. At Oktoberfest there’ll be a pig on the spit plus one-will-probably-do monster steins pouring for 15 bucks.

Where: Bine Craft Beer Bar, 1/28 Chairlift Avenue, Nobby Beach
When: 5pm to 10pm
Details: General entry is free

Maltoberfest at The Malty Grain, Windaroo | Monday, October 3

Did you know we get a long weekend in October? Well, you do now! Dive into this Sunday session without the niggling thought of Monday, with an afternoon in the hinterland hosted by one of the Coast’s lesser known home-grown breweries, Beard and Brau. At Maltoberfest, plans are in the works for local brews on tap, live musos, lawn games, and artisan food stalls. If you can’t find a friendly designated driver, the crew from Hop On Brewery Tours will get you there and back safely.

Where: Malty Grain, 180 Beaudesert Beenleigh Road, Bahrs Scrub (near Beenleigh)
When: 10am to 5pm
Details: General entry is free

Black Hops Degustation Dinner at Cambus Wallace | Monday, October 3

There’s a good chance you’ve been immersed in the wondrous experience of a wine-pairing feast, though hands up how many have taken part in a beer-pairing degustation? Well folks, this is the opportunity to pop your cherry. Everyday blokes who turned their dream into a reality in two short years, Black Hops Brewery is partnering with Cambus Wallace to create a six-course dinner paired with seven brews including Beach House Saison, 30 Cal, and their famous Eggnog Stout. Add to that beer trivia, beer pong, and signed copies of their tell-all book, Operation Brewery to be won. Sounds like fun! *Hick*

Where: Cambus Wallace, 4/2237 Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach
When: Starts 6:30pm
Details: Tickets $70 + BF, limited seats available

4 Pines Pairing Dinner at Glenelg Public House | Tuesday, October 4

We’ve said it before peeps, you NEED to check this place out. A special event curated for Free the Hops, you’ll be treated to four seriously tasty courses (there will be meat!) prepared by Glenelg’s award-winning chef Aaron Smith, and paired with five stellar beers from one of Sydney’s most celebrated breweries, 4 Pines.

Where: Glenelg Public House, 2460 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach
When: Starts 6:30pm
Details: Tickets $75, limited seats available

Coldie on the Goldie Brewery Tour | Wednesday, October 5 + Friday, October 7

If you need more proof the city’s craft beer scene is smokin’ hot, visit the creators at the source. Let awesome new operator, Hop On Brewery Tours be your personal chauffeur whisking you around to Black Hops, Burleigh Brewing, and Balter where you’ll be well fed, taste exclusive taphouse-only brews, and meet the faces behind the brands shaping the local movement.

Where: Scheduled pick ups from various locations across the Coast.
When: 12pm to 6pm
Details: $160 pp (or use FREEHOPS16 on check out to receive half-day price)

Rock ‘n’ Trivia at Not Tonight | Wednesday, October 5

Think you know a thing or two about craft beer and rock ‘n’ roll? For one night only, Not Tonight’s legendary trivia night will be hosted in partnership with NSW brewery, Young Henry and head brewer Richard Adamson. Whet your whistle with Young Henry drops like Newtowner and Natural Lager, while toe-tapping to buskers on electric guitars for the “live music rounds”.

Where: Not Tonight, 50B Nerang Street, Southport
When: 6pm ‘til late
Details: No cost to join trivia, bookings essential

Coopers Degustation at The Loose Moose | Thursday, October 6

These legends have been making craft beer well before we were born. Hear from Coopers ambassador, Adrian Clark and wrap your lips around The Loose Moose’s carefully-crafted four-course degustation paired with Coopers’ vintage drops.

Where: The Loose Moose, 75 Surf Parade, Broadbeach
When: 6pm ‘til late
Details: Tickets $55, limited seats available

Japanese Beer Appreciation 101 at Etsu Izakaya | Thursday, October 6

Like you needed another excuse to book yourself a night out at Etsu, on Thursday they want you to speak their language, which is Japanese beer, naturally. Grab a four-flight tasting paddle of hard-to-find Japanese craft beers paired with a round of kushiyaki skewers hot off the robata grill.

Where: Etsu, 2432-2440 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach
When: Starts 6:30pm
Details: Beer paddle and skewers for $40; bookings essential

Brews, Blues, and Bacon: Feral Tap Takeover | Friday, October 7

If there’s something we love more than beer, it’s bacon! Just us? Marrying two of our faves, Southport’s Not Tonight is surrendering to a Feral tap takeover and pairing each brew with a complimentary bacon-inspired bite. Come for the bacon-wrapped, blue cheese-stuffed dates, or the Sriracha candied bacon, to name a few. Drooool! Gold Coast fave, James Street Preachers will be belting out blues grooves from 6pm and it’ll be the very first time Feral’s barrel-fermented “War Hog” has been sighted on the GC.

Where: Not Tonight, 50B Nerang Street, Southport
When: 6pm ‘til late
Details: General entry is free
More: Join Hop On Brewery Tour’s Coldie on the Goldie tour, ending at Not Tonight

Bine and Dine Brewers Lunch | Friday, October 7

In an ode to liquid gold, start the weekend early by joining Bine’s brewer’s lunch where a ticket will buy you a soul-satisfying three-course lunch paired perfectly with beers from Feral, Exit Brewing, Nail, Cavalier, Brewcult, and Boatrocker breweries. Cheers to the freakin’ weekend.

Where: Bine Craft Beer Bar, 1/28 Chairlift Avenue, Nobby Beach
When: 12:30pm to 4pm
Details: $60 pp, bookings recommended

New Beer Launch at Burleigh Brewing Co. | Friday, October 7

We heart local craft beer stalwart, Burleigh Brewing Co. who laid foundations for the scene we enjoy today. Coinciding with Free the Hops Festival, the team are busting with anticipation to officially launch a stellar new beer that’s soon to be gracing taps and bottle shops across the country. Help celebrate at Burleigh Brewing’s stellar brewery with live music, food trucks, and high fives a-plenty.

Where: Burleigh Brewing, 2 Ern Harley Drive, Burleigh Heads
When: 5pm to 9pm
Details: General entry is free; family-friendly

Pig Day Out at Lester & Earl | Saturday, October 8

Lester & Earl are inviting you to Palmy for the weekend, with a juicy pig slow-cooking on the spit and six craft beers on tap in their pop-up backyard party. Pray for sunshine in what’s sure to be a social afternoon of flowing brews and solid company.

Where: Lester & Earl, 1097 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach
When: 12pm to 7pm
Details: General entry is free

Black Hops Tap Takeover at Surfers Sandbar | Saturday, October 8

Missed the boys from Black Hops earlier in the week? Surfers Paradise craft beer bar, Surfers Sandbar is hosting a tap takeover with all your faves plus a handful of exclusive small batch brews to enjoy a stone’s throw from the sand.

Where: Surfers Sandbar, 52 The Esplanade, Surfers Paradise
When: 2pm to 5pm
Details: General entry is free

Grand Finale: Burleigh Brewing Presents Smokin’ Cornholes at Lester & Earl | Sunday, October 9

Wrapping nine days of boutique beer appreciation, Lester & Earl is taking the party to their sun-drenched backyard with Burleigh Brewing beers on the taps, live music, old-school games of Cornhole, and mouth-watering, slow-smoked meats to wash ‘er all down with. Round up your fave drinking buddies, and we’ll see you there.

Where: Lester & Earl, 1097 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach
When: 12pm to 7pm
Details: General entry is free

Gosh, so much to do, so little time. For all the updates and happenings throughout the week, jump onto Free the Hops event Facebook page or website. Here’s cheers to us, Gold Coast!


Photo Credit: Hayley Williamson for Metropolist

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