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July 6, 2016

Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival

For their sophomore event, the Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival are making sure that the combination of craft beer, innovative BBQ and local music adds up to more than the sum of its considerable parts.

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  • Pictures: Andrè Castellucci
  • Pictures 1 & 2 supplied

“A well curated event – whether it’s a house party or a big festival – will have some sort of combination of good people, good food and drink and music,” says Ross McHenry.

Ross’ band – The Shaolin Afronauts – will be playing a set on Friday night at the Adelaide Beer and BBQ Festival, which exists solely to bring together the elements Ross lists.


 The Adelaide Beer and BBQ Festival takes place July 8 – 10 in the Dairy Pavilion at the Adelaide Showgrounds. See
for session and ticket details.

But the event is more than just a mashing together of a bunch of good things. The Festival’s organisers are supporting their meld of beer, BBQ and music with a combination of new ideas and community spirit.

While its not stated on the box, the “beer” in Beer and BBQ Festival means craft beer – an industry that, while growing rapidly, is still marginal in the South Australian market. Co-founder of Pirate Life Brewing Mick Cameron says any event centred around craft makers comes with a ready-made sense of comradery.

Pirate Life's Mick Cameron

Pirate Life’s Mick Cameron

“Craft beer is only 4 per cent of the market,” he says.


What does my band taste like? 

10 band and beer matches with the Adelaide Beer and BBQ festival organisers.

John Steel Singers –
Pikes Sparkling Ale (little bit country, little bit rock’n’roll)

Panama –
Mismatch Evil Archie (new, hopped up, with a dark edge)

Wasted Wanderers –
Coopers Dark Ale (hard working, reliable, usually found hanging out the front on the Exeter)

Shaolin Afronauts –
Lobethal Bierhaus Red Truck Porter (an SA favourite that has been on the scene a long time, but tastes just as good late at night as ever)

Koral & The Goodbye Horses –
Hills Apple & Pomegranate Cider (looks innocent, tastes sweet, but packs a serious punch)

Cosmo Thundercat –
Little Bang Beard Fiction APA (the best beer you haven’t tried yet)

The New Yorks –
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace (fresh hops from basically the coolest suburb in town)

The Montréals –
Pirate Life Hopco Pale Ale (new on the scene and about to take over the world)

Oisima –
Young Henry’s Newtowner (cooler than you will ever be)

Gentleman’s Record
Club DJs –
Big Shed Brewing Golden Stout Time (it doesn’t sound like it would taste any good but it does sound good)

“We’re such a small part of the bigger pie. What I learnt when I worked in America was that we all want to make good beer. So, if I can help my mate up the road make good beer or if someone can help me make better beer, then why not do it together?”

It’s an attitude that’s also reflected among the chefs who will be manning the fires and grills at the event. This year’s line-up is brought together by 2016 Adelaide Beer and BBQ Festival ambassador Duncan Welgemoed – co-owner and executive chef of the much-lauded Africola.

“Because the beer community are all brothers and sisters in arms – then having something like BBQ which is a communal way of cooking and sharing, it’s a great way for people to come together to celebrate food and community,” says Duncan.


Adelaide Beer and BBQ Festival ambassador Duncan Welgemoed

Duncan’s line-up takes in a great breadth of BBQ-ers from emerging locals like the Chinese cuisine-inspired Gweilo Kitchen, to well-known names such as chocolatier Steven ter Horst working in a new medium, all the way to American superstar Rodney Scott who will head to Adelaide for the first time.

The food program and similarly broad brewery representation – which includes interstate producers as well as a huge sample of SA names – are turning the Festival into an event of national interest.

“Bringing Rodney Scott – who is arguably America’s biggest and best BBQ-er – over to do the event is not only great for South Australia as a piece of programming, but it sets us apart from Sydney and Melbourne because it actually makes it more legit than anything they’ve ever done,” says Duncan.

“Craft beer followers look for these events,” adds Mick. “I already know people who are coming down from Melbourne and Sydney.”

Organisers are using the national profile and a capacity in the thousands to familiarise people with local music, like Ross’ Shaolin Afronauts, Oisima, Koral & The Goodbye Horses and Wasted Wanderers.

Between mouthfuls and slurps, punters are bound to take notice, because Ross and his fellow musicians won’t be giving them any other choice.

“It will be the middle of winter so it is our duty to try and keep people warm,” says Ross. “There is an understanding that when people come to celebrate, the role of music is to help them do that. That’s something that needs to be taken as seriously as serious music – context is everything.”

The whole event, then, is some serious fun – and some of the best you may ever have.

“I’ve done 300 festivals in America and a good few here too and this one is just like nothing else,” says Mick. “It’s the music, the food, the beer, the atmosphere – all together.”

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