GBW Day 5 : GABS

Discovering great new beers all day at the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular (aka GABS)

Good Beer Week Day 5

Friday 19 May

ALL ABOUT GABS

GABS aka The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular kicked off on Friday its three day run in Melbourne before the festival hits Sydney on Saturday 27 May and Auckland Friday 16 and Saturday 17 June.

More information about GABS at their website

Feeling mildly hungover from the night before, I devoured a Bahn Mi on my way to GABS which sorted me out nicely. Thanks to Kyle from Gage Roads for recommending N Lee Bakery on Smith Street for really great Bahn Mi (incidentally The Urban List Melbourne also agrees!)

Rather than trying to get around to trying all the GABS festival beers, the unique and one-off brews made especially for the festival, I instead focused on just making sure each beer I had was something I had never tried before and most likely couldn’t get in Perth.

Stomping Ground Hook Turn Pilsner

My first beer at GABS was the Stomping Ground (VIC) Hook Turn Pilsner, something tasty but something that would also be a nice way to ease myself into the festival. It’s quite gutsy for a pilsner with a larger and rounder mouth feel than I was expecting and went down really, really well.

Rodenbach Vintage

I followed this up with Rodenbach (BEL) Vintage, bracing and wonderfully balanced sourness. Then some Fixation (VIC) Squish and Fury & Son (VIC) Grapefruit Session Ale, both were excellent beers!

Fury & Son’s head brewer Craig pouring some Grapefruit Session Ale

On recommendation from several people, I went to the La Siréne (VIC) stand to try their GABS Festival beer – an espresso sour, a dark farmhouse sour ale brewed with espresso and fermented in French oak, soured using their house souring bacteria. Getting this beer from the La Sirene stand meant it was served on nitro so it had a soft creaminess to it. The overall result was deliciously interesting. The aroma reminded me of opening a fresh bag of coffee beans and there was no indication of the sourness inside. The flavour was a clean and good balance of black coffee and sour.

Another recommendation I followed up was the Pirate Life (SA) Vanilla Malt Thickshake, an IPA that tasted a lot like it had been blended with white chocolate. This was delightfully confusing and really quite sessionable.

Pirate Life Vanilla Malt Thickshake

Given my love of beer and cheese I was delighted to see cheese at the Stomping Ground stand. Presented by Milawa Cheese Company, they were serving up great little cheese boards and they even had a couple of beer cheese – King River Gold, a wash rind cheese, that had been brined in wort and washed in Stomping Ground Rauchbier and a blue cheese infused with the Stomping Ground Bricktower Barley Wine.

Thanks to the team at GABS for providing me with media pass for all sessions and including $25 value on my card.

GBW Day 1 : Beer School and Stomping Ground

My first day of Good Beer Week included a trip to Beer School, hosted by Boatrocker Brewing, and then dinner by Michelin star chef Daniel Burns at Stomping Ground

Good Beer Week, Day 1 : Monday 16 May

Why walk when you can run? This seems to be the way I approach Melbourne’s Good Beer Week.

BOATROCKER BREWING : BEER SCHOOL

I landed in Melbourne around lunch time Monday and was sitting at the Boatrocker Brewing Beer School at Beer Deluxe for the 4pm session of ‘Cut, Contrast and Complement’ hosted by founder and head brewer of Boatrocker, Matt Houghton, and Rob Kabboord, head chef of Merricote.

Together they guided us through a great flavour education session with a plate of individual examples of flavours such as fresh lemon for sour, parmesan for umami and honey for sweet.

Pretzel for salt, honey for sweet, radicchio for bitter, lemon for sour and parmesan for umami

It’s one thing to read about beer and food pairing but it’s another to taste and experience, particularly with industry pros and broken down in this easy to understand format.

After identifying salt, sweet, bitter, umami and sour it was onto some beer and food pairings looking at examples of cut, contrast and complement.

Boatrockers beers are diverse, interesting and delicious so their ability to pair to food is pretty much boundless.

Contrast pairing of Boatrocker Orange Sherbert with Enokitake mushrooms and parmesan

For me, the Orange Sherbert was delicately acidic and definitely sherberty and paired with the Enokitake mushrooms and parmesan it seemed to round out the beer and soften its acidity. Really interesting!

Boatrocker Stout, only available on tap, a gorgeous English style stout

Trying the Boatrocker Stout was a little special since it’s not available in bottles. Gorgeous nutty, chocolate, coffee and fudgy aromas and flavours like black coffee, burnt toast and chocolate. So damn good.

EVENING WITH MICHELIN STAR CHEF DANIEL BURNS (NYC)

What a way to experience Stomping Ground Beer Hall for the first time – with a dinner by Michelin star chef Daniel Burns, co-owner and head chef at Tørst in New York, paired with beers by Stomping Ground and Evil Twin Brewing, of which Daniel is also co-owner.

Read more about Daniel : ‘Have you met Daniel Burns?’ on Phaidon

Justin Joiner (L) of Stomping Ground welcoming everyone to the evening alongside Daniel Burns (R)

The venue is simply incredible and there wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like about it. Freaking sensational. The brewery itself is beautiful too and I was stoked and surprised at how many beers they had on tap, it’s not your standard pale ale, pilsner, wheat beer, stout line up that’s for sure!

One part of the Stomping Ground beer list

Co-owner Guy Greenstone gave me a very quick brewery tour in-between courses. Half, single, double and triple fermenters give the brewery lots of flexibility and it’s hard not to get excited at the sight of a handful of barrels stashed out the back quietly doing their work.

The beers are fantastic, I wrote down precisely zero notes as I was too busy eating and drinking my way through a menu of deliciousness but my stand outs were the Bad Seed Berliner Weisse that was bang-on in terms of being delicate, lightly sour and immensely refreshing; the Barrel Aged Saison with just enough barrel influence that doesn’t steam roll over the Saison character and the Upside Down Brown was toasty with great sweet malt character.

Roasted Beetroot and Almond with Stomping Ground Bad Seed Berliner Weisse

 

Beef Tartare, Razor Clam and Shiso with Stomping Ground Bad Seed Berliner Weisse

 

Lobster Relish and Daikon with Stomping Ground Bad Seed Berliner Weisse

 

Mackerel. Poblano and Cucumber with Stomping Ground Market Saison

 

Smoked Celeriac, Scampi Roe and Kohlrabi with Stomping Ground Barrel Aged Saison
Duck, Carrot and Brown Butter with Evil Twin Brett Yeast Helles

 

Roasted Sunchoke, Thyme and Caramelised Apple with Stomping Ground Upside Down Brown

Daniel’s book, Food & Beer, was made available to purchase so I grabbed one and he was also signing them so I got to have a quick chat with him and thank him for a wonderful night.

L-R : Me, Daniel Burns and Wendy Marinich

Big thanks to Matt Marinich and the team at Stomping Ground Beer Hall for inviting me as a guest to this amazing event!