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The world’s first donut and beer festival is here!

A festival pairing two of life’s great pleasures – beer and doughnuts – launches in Melbourne this weekend.

By Georgia Rickard
Published: 10 March, 2017

Is this the greatest festival ever invented? The founder of the world’s first celebration of doughnuts and beer, Ngoc Le, thinks so. “Beer is Australia’s traditional drink of choice,” she says, “and everyone loves doughnuts. It’s a winning combination.”

Donut Fest (no relation to the American event) will take place this Sunday and Monday (12-13 March) in Melbourne, offering visitors the chance to taste a range of the city’s best doughnuts alongside a hand-picked selection of Australian beers. Don’t expect a typical doughnut experience, Le warns - you'll find doughnuts of every colour and shape here, plus doughnuts incorporating Australia’s favourite delicacies “as well as vegan, gluten-free, and raw options”.

Some unique beers will also be making an appearance, with taco- and lavender-flavoured beers by Melbourne's Two Birds brewery Le's top picks. Beer complements doughnuts surprisingly well, she adds - even unusually-flavoured beer. “Lavender-flavoured beer for example, pairs very nicely with a floral or fruity doughnut.” The menu will feature suggested pairings, but these four delicacies are sure to be festival highlights.


The Golden Gaytime donut

The Golden Gaytime Doughnut, Ahhh Donuts!, Melbourne, Victoria

The Golden Gaytime ice cream – a mix of toffee and vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate, sprinkled in honeycomb biscuit crumbs and served on a stick – has been a popular Australian snack since first introduced back in 1959. A doughnut version of the treat – created by Hana McKenzie, owner of Melbourne doughnut delivery service Ahhh Donuts! – is guaranteed to be popular with the locals.

“It’s made with our signature cronut-inspired dough, a toffee and vanilla filling piped into the dough ring, a milk chocolate ganache covered in a crushed malted biscuit, topped with a piece of waffle cone dripping in salted caramel and gold dust,” she explains.

And if you're worried about eating too many doughnuts and not enjoying enough beer, fret no longer – McKenzie has also created a beer-flavoured doughnut. Picture a dark chocolate and Guinness ganache dough base, filled with Baileys buttercream, topped with crushed Maltesers, and you're getting the idea.


The multicultural donut

A doughnut festival mightn’t seem the place to gain insights into local food culture, but Melbourne is a particularly multicultural city (it has the world's largest Greek population outside of Greece, for example) and its many culinary influences will be clearly visible on the Donut Fest menu, according to Le. Internationally influenced highlights include Honey Dee’s loukoumades – traditional Greek-style doughnuts fused with Australian apple crumble, made with local Granny Smith green apples. 

There will also be Belgian-inspired sourdough cronuts to try (created by Belgian-Australian patissier Miek Paulus of Ket Baker), and the The Hungary Boy’s kurtosh doughnuts. “These baked, cone-shaped treats are a traditional Hungarian speciality,” Le says. “But at Donut Fest they’ll be served with not-so-traditional toppings such as coconut and multicoloured sprinkles.”


The lamington-croissant-donut

The Dossington, Goldeluck's Bakeshop, Melbourne, Victoria

“The lamington is Australia’s most iconic cake,” says Phillip Kuoch, owner of Goldeluck’s Bakeshop, a wildly popular Melbourne bakery. “It was always going to happen.” By “it”, he’s referring to his creation, the Dossington, a hybrid of the cronut (itself a cross between a croissant and a doughnut) and the lamington, a traditional Australian dessert featuring cubed pieces of sponge cake rolled in chocolate and covered in coconut, with an (optional) layer of jam.

Try the Dossington at Donut Fest to experience what Kuoch calls “a new-age fusion between the spongy texture of the lamington, crispy layers of croissant and the soft, fluffy interior of a classic doughnut, with the chocolatey, coconut flavour of a lamington, topped with raspberry jam”.


The Nutella donut burger

The Nutella Doughnut Burger, Nuts About Tella, Melbourne, Victoria

It wouldn’t be a doughnut festival without something involving Nutella – and the decadent Donut Nutella Burger, by aptly named Melbourne food truck company Nuts About Tella, features two doughnut “buns”, crushed to a crispy warmth inside a hot press, loaded with Nutella filling. You can even upgrade to a double burger, if you’re game – the four-tiered Leaning Tella of Pisa is a veritable Nutella party. Which will you choose?