WANT to know the secret to a good beer?
It’s water, apparently.
Brewers and self-confessed beer enthusiasts swapped tricks of the trade at Wangaratta’s first craft beer festival — Ales on the Ovens — on Saturday.
The 21 brewers at the festival formed a shoehorn of stalls that opened to a stage hosting live music.
The Ovens River provided the stage’s back-drop.
The big hitters of craft beer like Little Creatures and Murray’s Craft Brewing were there as were locals King Valley Brewing, Bright Brewery, Saltwater Brewing Company, Buffalo Brewery, Bridge Road Brewers and Black Dog.
The creator of Glenrowan Black Dog, Taminick Cellars’ James Booth, who named the brew after his dog, Macca, said water was the key.
“That in itself can be a signature of the beer,” Mr Booth said.
He said water from the Warby Ranges he used created subtle distinctions between his beer, and other North East brews such as Bright brewers that contains Ovens River water.
For some punters, like Melbourne lawyer Matt Considine, a good beer means two things.
“It has to be very cold and easy to drink,” Mr Considine said.
The brainchild of the festival is Oxley Primary School teacher Judd Porter, 29, whose love of brewing prompted him to start the event.
“There’s a few festivals popping up and this is a nice place for it,” Mr Porter said.
He hoped 1500 people would attend from noon to 10pm.
By mid-afternoon, hundreds were slaking their thirst and more were coming through the gates as the weather cooled.
Mr Porter, a Wangaratta Magpies football player, wants to festival to become a staple for the town.
“We plan on running for the future,” he said.
“We want it to become like the Wangaratta Jazz Festival.”
Mr Porter said the festival was well-placed to thrive as beer drinkers became more discerning and their palettes refined.
“Once people get on craft beer, it’s hard to go back,” he said.
“Carlton Draught — I can’t go back to it now. It has to be forced down my throat.”