May 28, 2017
The underlying idea behind the inception of what became the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular was simple: The founders, beer impresarios Steve Jeffares and Guy Greenstone (the guys behind The Local Taphouse beer temples and Stomping Ground Brewery & Beer Hall in Collingwood), were wondering if they could convince the Australia’s craft breweries to all brew and release a brand new beer on the same day specifically for one event.
The idea caught on and over six years, they have probably brought more than 700 Festival Beers & Ciders into the world.
The inaugural GABS fest, which was listed as one of the top 20 beer festivals in the world by the American magazine The Beer Connoisseur in 2015, managed to calibrate its offerings to appeal to both - converted craft beer fans and the uninitiated by showcasing the Australian and New Zealand craft breweries and cider producers featuring hundreds of beers and ciders – including up to 180 Festival Beers & Ciders made just for the event, local food vendors, interactive exhibitor stalls, food and drink education, along with entertainment and activities.
Being a cashless event, tickets are scanned and punters are given an entry wristband, which doubles as a key to GABS, and which can be loaded with any GABS Currency that has been purchased with the ticket, along with a Coopers Festival Glass and the Official GABS Guide handed out at the entry.
What follows is an exposure to a myriad of beers/ciders on offer and sampling a wide variety becomes the name of the game at GABS.
While individual 85ml tasters can be purchased, Tasting Paddles of 5 x 85ml tasters serve as away to sample a range of different beers and ciders, particularly at the Kegtainer Bars where the specially brewed Festival Beers & Ciders are sold.
If you find something you want a little more of, you can have your Festival Glass filled with a 285ml serve of beer or cider.
To compliment the liquid offerings, GABS hosted a market of boutiquey food stalls: Burgers by Josh; Mama Linh’s gourmet Vietnamese Street food; Chrissy's Cuts with her hand twisted sausages made in small batches from free range prime cuts and no gluten or preservatives; The Mac Daddy’s Mac’N’Cheese; Clementine's diet of bacon, brisket and burgers; Dumpling Den and pretty much any other variety of food that generally goes well with beer or cider.
Attractions were present in the form of the Yenda Ferris wheel of beer, the local taphouse craft college, gastronomic journeys of food, beer and cider pairings, pub games galore and the opportunity to purchase a festival beer variety pack with a selection of the best festival beers after the event.
GABS 2017 was another enjoyable and gregarious extravaganza with a healthy demographic of young couples, hipsters, families with children and what is commonly associated with beer fests, i.e. middle-aged men, with the vast majority of patrons well behaved, enjoying brews and good times.
Photos by KAVV
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