There’s a first time for everything in life. For the last few year, the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular (aka GABS) has been marauding through the Melbourne beer scene, to the extent that it’s rated one of the top 20 beer festivals in the world, which is an awesome effort. For the first time, they decided to share the love with Sydney this year. And for the first time, I was able to attend.
The premise is simple – heaps of breweries and heaps of beers in a big hall. But what makes GABS so intriguing is that each brewery needs to create a new beer especially for the festival, along with many bringing a selection of their own brews. That, along with food, a plethora of entertainers and mini events run by some of the breweries, makes this event so dam exciting.
Like mosquitoes to the light, I was among many who descended upon the Australian Technology Park for the evening session. Entry was smooth, festival glass and program were in hand, the next problem was choosing my first beer. When you have a choice of over a 100 new beers to try, that is a very hard decision! I decided to keep it local and opted for Pixel Brewing Co’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart. This porter was a pretty good beer to kick off with, bigger on the chocolate than any other of the flavours.
From here I got my one and only tasting paddle for the evening, quickly coming to the conclusion that paddles weren’t for me, for a couple of reasons:
- The tasters were only 85ml. No discredit to those behind the bar, but they were evidently struggling to do a decent pour into something so small.
- It’s hard to get a proper taste for something which is essentially only a mouthful
- A glass of beer was roughly about the same value for money, and gives you more time to taste the beer
Of the paddle I tried, Yeastie Boys’ Not Kettle Black was the pick of the bunch, with an honourable mention to Nail Brewing’s Flaming Lamington.
The next beer I tried was my pick of the night, Mismatch Brewing Company’s Banoffee Pie Dessert Ale, which was a natural choice given my love for banoffee pie. It did not let me down. Banana aromas gave way to sweet caramel tastes, that just nailed the interpretation. I went and congratulated the brewer later in the night, and he was mighty appreciative. I’m hoping they’ll release it more widely than just for the event – fingers and toes are crossed. The other beer I’ll ramble on about is Brewcult’s Milk and Two Sugars, which took out the People’s Choice award for best new beer. It was a delicious drop, coffee and sweet flavoured, and was easily my second favourite beer of the night.
Food was decent, even if it was in short supply. A couple more food tents next year certainly wouldn’t go astray. There was also some entertainers at the end of the night, including a three man acrobat act who were incredible, probably more so given the amount of alcohol I’d consumed.
I can see how GABS rates so highly in the beer festival ranks. The beers were interesting and offered everyone something new, and the atmosphere was rocking. Although there was only two sessions in Sydney, I can see this easily growing year on year as word creeps onto the Sydney streets about the good thing that GABS is.