GBW 2014: The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular aka GABS

If you’re thinking of heading to the last session of this years GABS festival I highly recommend you do! Read on if you really need more persuading …

Over the last two days I’ve survived two sessions at this years GABS festival held at the Royal Exhibition Building nestled in Carlton Gardens.

Two sessions + 45 different beers = one palate wrecked but very happy girl.

Session Five, the final one for the weekend, kicks off at 12noon with loads of events and activities on top of all the beery goodness. At 1pm there’s a Paddle Race Challenge at The Local Taphouse stall, you can learn about beer and cheese pairing at 2pm in the Coopers Craft Beer Challenge and if you’re feeling strong you can arm wrestle a brewer at the Bridge Road Brewing stall. For more information on these and more events, download the ‘GABS 2014’ app for both android and iPhone or check out the website.

I was impressed with the festival last year and this year they’ve continued to leave me wide-eyed. Improved layout gives you a wider scope of the brewers market where you’ll find stalls from your favourite Australian and International brewers. When I say stalls I’m not talking trestle tables with an ice bucket on top, I’m talking full bars and there’s giant cardboard monsters, lots of fresh hops, a caravan and today there was even a barber on hand for free haircuts!

Now let’s get into the beer. There is a lot of it, there are easy drinking ones and rich, crazy ones. Here are my top tips from the last two days …

Sharing is caring
Did I mention there are lots of beers at this festival? The festival beers, those brewed especially for the GABS festival, number well over 100 so if you’re looking to try as many as possible then I’d recommend playing team. Share paddles with your friends, consult and get different beers.

Eat first and eat big
Make sure you have a big feed before you get there and start drinking lots of beer. There’s plenty of food at the festival however if you drink first and then think about food you might find you’re already a few stumbly steps behind.

Talk to people
There are brewers and brewery reps galore who are always up for a chat, introduce yourself, say hello and ask whatever you want to ask. The beer community is generous and full of great stories.

Remember context
Some of these beers are monsters, rich and truly indulgent. Some are clean pilsners and low ABV ales, remember this when evaluating your beers. You wouldn’t have a steak tartare and complain that it wasn’t cooked enough! Same goes here, there are beers that aren’t meant to be hop monsters or extremely boozy.

Beers to try

Temple Scarlet Super – fresh cranberries, hibiscus flowers from Queensland and bacteria to give you a real cranberry fruit flavour with assertive tartness. This is the best way to start your day.

True South Spice Market – if you’re like me and have a cupboard full of assorted spices like cumin, curry powder and coriander this beer embraces all these spices within a soft Belgian witbier. I don’t know how but it is so well balanced and flavoursome and still very much a wheat beer at heart.

2 Brothers Creme Caramel – stupidly rich and indulgent, this baby is not subtle and not for the faint hearted. If you’re the sort of person who orders decadent chocolate desserts then this is for you.

Brewcult Pepper Steak Porter – 60kg of black peppercorns went into this bad boy, the taste is just what it says. I reckon some beef jerky wouldn’t go astray here.

Renaissance Brewing Export Pilsner – full of NZ hops it is clean, refreshing with hoppy tropical fruit. You could easily have a few of these on a Friday night.

Have fun and don’t forget to vote for your favourite beer of the festival!

Apologies if this post is riddled with typos, it has been a rather big day!

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