The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, aka GABS, was held at the Melbourne Royal Exhibition Hall on Friday 24th – Sunday 26th May. It coincided with the last three days of Good Beer Week so I deliberately didn’t booked any GBW events for my partner and I on Saturday so it could be our “GABS day”.
GABS is the brain child of Steve and Guy, the guys behind The Local Taphouse venues in Darlinghurst and St Kilda. I had the pleasure of meeting Steve and Guy when I visited GABS. They are obviously passionate about craft beer and about providing the right platform for consumers to enjoy, discover and share.
So, what is GABS? I’m glad you asked – it’s a beer festival that celebrates brewing creativity. At the heart of the festival are the GABS beers – those which are brewed specially for the festival. This year saw 90 unique beers hit the taps! Combined with lots of old favourites from dozens upon dozens of brewers, it was enough to blow my Untappd count into the next century (if I could be bothered updating it frequently of course!). And it wasn’t just Australian brewers showing off, breweries from the United States, the UK, Italy and Aussie neighbours New Zealand also showed off their brewing flair.
The folk at GABS were kind enough to provide me with a media pass for the event and our friends at Eagle Bay Brewing provided my partner with a ticket. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I love the beer community, their generosity knows no bounds. Thank you Steve and Guy, thank you Margi and Adrian.
Best Beer of GABS
The “best of” categories fell into two categories – People’s Choice and Brewer’s Choice.
My vote for the People’s Choice Best Beer of GABS went to the collaboration brew from Moon Dog / Nøgne Ø – Selvmordstokt, a cherry wheat porter. Gorgeous black cherry, coconut and chocolate, a little funky and a whole lot yummy.
The winner was Bacchus Brewing White Chocolate Raspberry Pilsner and sadly one I didn’t have! I did try their White Chocolate Pilsner at Dejavu as part of Pint of Origin and very much enjoyed it. I even thought it had a touch of raspberry to it, perhaps it was my palate trying to tell me something about the future. Congratulations to Bacchus, hopefully we see this make it into their regular line up for more folks to enjoy.
The winner of the Brewer’s Choice went to a brewery who must have a hell of a trophy cabinet these days – Feral Brewing for their Barrique O Karma. Being one of my favourite brewers and from my home state, I made sure I didn’t miss out on this one. It had a soft and sweet maltiness and the nose on it was great. Being that it’s based on their Karma Citra, a black IPA, that I have enjoyed many times it’s unsurprising I really liked this one.
More Beery Highlights
Staying with Feral, their collaboration with Richard from The Wig & Pen (ACT) was appropriately called ‘Pig Pen’ tipping its hat to both breweries (not that pigs wear hats of course … actually maybe some do) it was called a ‘free range ale’. What does this mean? I’m not sure, perhaps it comes from the ingredients reading like a global shopping list or perhaps simply because they didn’t brew it to a specific style. Regardless of the reason it is a very good drop. Slightly tart, refreshing and with great drinkability. It was the first beer I wrote “yum” beside.
Two Birds Brewing (VIC) Taco, “a hoppy wheat beer with inspiration” or as I wrote it “wheat beer with omf”. Twitter and crackbook had provided a few insights into this beer so I knew to expect lime and coriander and that’s exactly what I got. It was inspired after eating fish tacos in San Diego and so I’m not sure whether I read this and expected to taste corn chips or whether I really could taste corn chips. Either way, damn good beer!
Birra Del Borgo (ITA) won me over with their fabulous name – Myrtle’s Bunga Bunga Party. A spiced ale that was just lovely with honey and almost nectar sweetness. Also oddly moreish.
Speaking of fun names, Cacao Cabana from Eagle Bay (WA) and The Monk (WA) had a smushed banana flavour going on with soft chocolate notes buried inside. It was like peeling back the layers on a dessert!
Gary the White from Colonial Brewing (WA) was a white stout, dry and rich, the flavours were all strangely familiar packaged in the unexpected. Fab!
The GABS beer from Steve ‘Hendo’ Henderson’s Brewcult had been a bit of a talking point in the lead up to the event. A collaboration brew with Steve’s brother, a craft vinegar maker, it was described as porter infused with barrel aged balsamic vinegar. The aptly named “Acid Freaks” had the beer geeks intrigued. I had met Hendo by chance a few days earlier and asked how Acid Freaks had turned out. He simply replied that he didn’t want to say too much and inadvertently influence peoples opinions but he would say he was happy with it. My notes read: “soft tang, weirdly stunning”. The all important balance of sweet and bitter was spot on. God I hope he sends some to WA.
Taking me back to my childhood, the Duckstein (WA) Porter tasted like lamingtons. I love beers that evoke my memories and this beer did exactly that.
So many beers …. god that was amazing! Thank you GABS, loved every minute!