The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, or GABS was on over the weekend, to a ripper turn out of beer connoisseurs and enthusiasts alike.
Created in 2011 by the guys behind Melbourne and Sydney’s renowned beer bars; Local Taphouse, GABS is a weekend-long celebration of all things craft beer. Now in its sixth year of operation in conjunction with Melbourne’s Good Beer Week, then travelling to Sydney, and for the first time, Auckland – GABS is going from strength to strength.
We saw big, bright and colourful stands from craft classics like Cricketers Arms, Matilda Bay and Little Creatures, as well as some fun newcomers like Bells Beach Brewers and Old Wives Ales, both hailing from Victoria. Special shout out to the brewers with the best name by far; hailing from New Zealand, the Yeastie Boys attended this year’s event.
Leading brewers at the festival will traditionally brew a ‘festival beer’ especially for the event. This year there were 120 exclusive beers to choose from, and 10 festival ciders for those of the apple persuasion.
This year we saw exclusive pours from the likes of 4 Pines Brewing Co with their ‘Beast of Bourbon,’ a wood-aged dark beer, Stone & Wood’s ‘Jean-Claude Fan Slam’ – bright golden strong ale, and the ‘Piquant Beere Weisse’ from Stomping Ground Brewing Co – a zesty, blackcurrant flavoured Berliner Weisse.
The festival brews are at the essence of what the GABS event represents; it is about creativity, exposure and passion. Craft beer has become a refined art form for the exhibitors at the SpecTAPular; they are proud to share it with the punters and their passion is evident.
Like a grown up kid in a candy shop, there was so much to see, taste and try at the event, and so many people to talk to. Some special mentions go to the soon-to-open Stomping Ground Brewing Co; operating out of Collingwood, these guys have teamed up with Fitzroy favourite Billy van Creamy to make some incredible beer-flavoured ice creams! We had a taste and couldn’t stop at one, so lucky there were four flavours to try!
Also to the guys from Stone & Wood brewery out of Byron Bay, whose Pacific Ale took out the number one spot in the GABS Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers poll, knocking Feral’s Hop Hog off its perch for the first time since 2011. Stone & Wood co-founder Ross Jurisich says the Pacific Ale is meant to go down easy; like the perfect cold one after a long day at work, or a big surf session at the beach. Whatever they are doing it’s working!
The energy in Carlton’s Royal Exhibition Building was absolutely buzzing; although technically a room of competitors, there was a real camaraderie amongst vendors whose love for all things beer shines through in their delivery and clear friendships with others in the beer game.
We can’t wait for next year’s event to see what newcomers there might be, and what the old faithfuls have to bring to the event!