Having their own craft brew on tap at a major beer festival is a "fulfillment of a dream" for Ballarat brewers Paul Richter and Daniel Court.
The homebrewers won a competition to work with legendary Federation University brewmaster Associate Professor Peter Aldred, and their Dust Storm beer - a double dry-hopped American amber ale, with a remarkably smooth taste - was flowing at the Ballarat Beer Festival on Saturday.
"It was really exciting for us to come from a background of home brewing to actually scaling up into a commercial batch - just over 400 litres," Mr Richter said.
"This is something we've been really keen on, it's like the fulfillment of a dream, it's really exciting."
"It's not just the brewing that you get out of Pete, it's the industry tips and how to refine your time and make the most out of your day," Mr Court added.
"And we got to play with the nice science equipment we'd never get to use as home brewers."
They were part of hundreds of different beers on tap at the festival, from across Australia, including Matso's from Broome.
A special 707 Operations heritage diesel train from Melbourne via Geelong - slightly delayed and with the assistance of a V/Line locomotive - added something special for punters from further afield and delighted gunzels at Ballarat station.
Amid the slightly wobbly Jenga games, coordinated pirate costumes, and Black Keys covers on-stage at the festival, there were some gems to be found for those seeking a good drop.
Brewers from across the district were keen to show locals and out-of-towners how the craft beer scene was developing - the Daylesford Brewing Company, for example, returned from a hiatus with four solid core beers, and big plans for a destination venue and brewery in an 1850s pub.
Owner and director David Gill said regional festivals offered a lot more exposure.
"Our model is that we're small, and we've got a venue in our town and we're going to grow concentrically," he said.
"The premise is to sell a beer that people want to buy a second one of - that way you double your sales.
"(The beer market) is so saturated, particularly in Melbourne, I wouldn't even bother trying - everyone's undercutting each other so if you focus on selling your own beer, it's a win."
The Holgate Brewhouse in Woodend recently opened its brand new brewing facility, quadrupling its capacity - senior brewer Matthew Ives said that could mean more experimentation.
"This gives us the chance to brew our core range on the big kit and then tinker away on the smaller guy, then when it hits the sweet spot, you can upgrade that to the big kit, like the Hazy IPA," he said.
He also provided detailed tasting notes on the "end of summer-start of autumn limited release - an IPA is typically higher in alcohol, higher in hops, sometimes challenging to drink, it's big on flavour, but the hazy trend has tried to pare that back a bit, it gives it a softer mouth feel, the hops are a bit more fruit driven, it makes for an easy-drinking beer all-round," he explained.
He added the festival showed regional people were just as interested in good beer.
"It's great to see they can fill such a vast space with people interested in craft beer, interested in trying new flavours and trends," he said.
"It's not like we're forgetting there's other centres outside metropolitan zones - Ballarat's one of the up-and-coming growing areas in Victoria, and that's only going to get bigger and bigger in the next few years."
The fun continues for beer lovers, with the complementary Quarterbar event taking over Alfred Deakin Place on Sunday afternoon with dozens of Ballarat brewers on tap.
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