It's Back! Free The Hops Craft Beer Fest Returns

By Brooke Darling
8th Sep 2016

Isn’t it a fabulous time to be alive on the Gold Coast?

Our stellar beaches, enviable weather, and breezy lifestyle have always been ridic, and now with a blossoming foodie scene, we’re finally stepping out from the shadows of our capital cousins.

Gosh, and let’s not mention the BEER!

This year, Gold Coast’s craft beer scene has come of age in a wonderfully wicked way, with the opening of two brand new breweries, Balter and Black Hops, and the colossal evolution of Burleigh Brewing 2.0; joining stalwarts of Mount Tamborine’s Fortitude Brewing and, just down the road, much-loved Stone & Wood.

Today, it’s rare to find a Tooheys New or XXXX pouring outside of surf clubs, taverns, and RSLs, which is pretty neat and a testament to our city’s overwhelming love of a boutique drop.

So, it’s only a natural progression we gain our very own craft beer festival to celebrate all the hoppy awesomeness that exists right here in our very backyard. Returning for its second installment, Free the Hops craft beer festival will be held over nine days from October 1-9 and it’s shaping up to be pretty spesh!

Those in the know who experienced the grassroots festival during its maiden year in 2015 will agree the vibe was intensely optimistic for the future of craft beer on the Gold Coast. So with three new brewhouses on the scene—each very different from the other—together with some neighbouring breweries from Byron, Brisbane, and surrounds, beer aficionados should prepare for an absolute spoiling.

There’s a swag of events to be hosted in craft beer bars and restaurants smattering the full length of our golden coast, together with a handful of events at some of the breweries themselves. So folks, there’s no excuse to not get yourself along to at least one or two functions. ‘Cause, let’s be real, if you miss this you probs can’t claim that you’re a true local craft beer lover, right? Right!

Free the Hops kicks off on Saturday, October 1 with a massive opening mini festival dubbed “Home Grown”. With 800 or so beer-loving locals expected at the outdoor event—popping up on the corner of Southport’s Young Street and Regent Lane—Home Grown is designed to celebrate local breweries within a 100km radius. Starting at noon, this all-day affair rolls through until well after dark and includes a loaded lunch program of activities, food trucks, and bands then, from 4pm, you can mingle with the talented brewers from Black Hops, Balter, Burleigh Brewing, Beard and Brau, and Stone & Wood. Juicy questions at the ready!

Finer details are still fermenting but we’ve been teased with whispers of as many as two events each day, including beer and food pairing dinners, tap takeovers, brewery tours, a boilermaker night (AKA beer and whiskey matchings), parties, further opportunities to meet the brewers (and shower them with your beer-soaked appreciation), rounding out with a closing party on Sunday, October 9.

Don’t believe us? To whet your appetite, take a look at the stellar line up of events from 2015 then jump over to Free The Hops’ Facebook page and give them a thumbs up, so you can be kept in the loop with what’s happening where and when. And keep your eyes glued to Metropolist as we’ll release more details as the event draws nearer.

Beer lovers, unite!

When: Saturday, October 1 to Sunday, October 9

Where: Events to be held at various locations across the Gold Coast


Photo Credit: Hayley Williamson for Metropolist

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