Crowds brace the rain for boutiques at the Great Australian Beer Festival

The revellers had wet their whistles well before the rain fell at the Great Australian Beer Festival, with more than 2500 people attending the event.

Despite the weather hitting an hour into the event, spirits were high and the queues were long to sample the products of 24 breweries – nine from the North East.

Malt Shed was the newest venture represented, a brewery that opened in Wangaratta in July.

Co-owner Mat Saunders said the festival was a great opportunity to gain new fans.

“They contacted us about being here but this was also on our radar,” he said.

“The reception to our beer has been really good – we go for something really well-balanced, focusing on the malt.”

Alpine Cider business development manager Myron Bullivant said the Wandiligong brand was going strong after 18 months.

“The Nightingale Brothers have been growing apples since the 1950s and I think the apples, growing at the snow line, is really what makes the taste,” he said.

“We will start moving into Canberra and Brisbane next year.”

The bigger names like Mountain Goat and Bridge Road Brewers were present – the latter a favourite of Albury’s Garrie Filer, who in true beer-lover style, was wearing lederhosen.

“My favourite is the chestnut pilsner,” he said.

“I’ve been up to Beechworth quite a few times – I’m from Melbourne originally so it’s fantastic you don’t have to travel to the city anymore for boutique beer.”

Self-confessed craft beer lover Suzie Piltz, from Henty, was one of the first to buy tickets when it was announced the Geelong event would be hosted in Albury.

“It’s a bit of a pastime for me – I’m a big fan of Beechworth and Bright breweries – and I’m keen to try some new ones.”

Despite having to deal with the daunting forecast and a last-minute cancellation from the Potbelleez, event director Michael Ward said the day had come together well and he hoped to bring the festival back to the Border.

“The spotlight is very much on this region and we’re in this for the long term,” he said.

“I want to thank Albury, council and the breweries … I think we’ve done well.”