As featured in The AU Review Written by Chris Singh
It’s that time again! The GABS Beer, Cider & Food Festival is once again preparing to show Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland just why it has been named one of the best beer festivals in the world (by U.S magazine The Beer Connoisseur). With record attendance last year, the touring festival is set to bring in an even more diverse selection of bevvies as some of the most creative and enthusiastic brewers in Australia and New Zealand come together to offer drinkers different approaches to their favourite styles.
As always, the spaces chosen to host GABS this year will feature distinctive 40ft shipping containers which have been converted into bars with plenty of taps pouring up offerings, 170 of which are marked as official “Festivals Beers and Ciders”, meaning that they’ve been created to launch exclusively at GABS. Following the festival, the most popular of these exclusive brews will be ranked.
Wondering just how creative these breweries can get? Well one of last year’s most curious creations was the “Ambergris Ale” by Robe Brewing, which was made essentially from sperm whale vomit.
A few changes this year will include a bigger focus on all-day entertainment, including fitting all shipping container bars to host dramatic live performances on top (think costumed acrobats swinging from sway poles or precision Taiko drummers) as well as mini stages with solo circus performances in addition to the usual roving performers.
Brews to be on the look out for at GABS this year include: “The Smoking Jacket” (2 Brothers) which is steeped in hand-cut Cuban tabacco and infused with cognac and aged oak; “Hidden in Plain Sight” (4 Pines), presented as a beer “so pale that it glows in the moonlight”, featuring tetrahop, PGA, insinglass finings, hop oil, and distilled roast essence; “Bone & Marrow” (Aether Brewing), a double Irish red with double smoked bone marrow; “Fruit Tingle” (Merchant Brewing Company), a purple beer made from a special tea blend with notes of citrus and raspberry; “Quetzalacatenango” (Mountain Goat), a brew birthed from time spent in a Guatemalan insane asylum, defined by American ale and wheat malts with a special blend of chilies (Queensland grown Carolina Reaper and Ghost chilies); “Who Poured the Porter in the Cookie Jar?” (Pact Beer), a collaboration with Butterbing Cookie Sandwiches, said to be the ultimate salted caramel porter, with each full glass coming with a free cookie sandwich; “Purple Rain” (Choice Bros), a hoppy purple ale using butterfly pea flowers with citra, wakatu and eureka hop oil; and “Bangh Thandi” (Garage Project), a beer brewed with almonds, fennel, Magaz Tari seeds, rose petal, pepper, cardamom, saffron, and lactose and organic hemp oil.
Though one we’re most curious about is the “Kina Stout” by Piha Beer, a New Zealand stalwart that has infused the coastline into their beer, using local sea urchin in the stout to give it a “silky, salty punch” with a “creamy texture”. It’s not often we get to try some seafood stout.
GABS Melbourne: 19th to 21st May | Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton
GABS Sydney: 27th May | Sydney Showground, Olympic Park
GABS Auckland: 16th to 17th June | ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane