Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know somewhere in the back of your brain that this past weekend was Good Beer Week in Melbourne, which ends with five incredible sessions at GABS – the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular. Due to the hosting of the AIBA during the week, the festival is an international event, with brewers participating from Australia, New Zealand and the USA.
I’m sure there are naysayers out there who may disregard the validity of the festival due to the fact that the major sponsor is Dan Murphy’s and, in amongst the weird and wonderful GABS entries, there are “adventurous” beers from familiar brands like Yak Ales (aka Matilda Bay), Little Creatures, Cricketer’s Arms and Yenda. But you know what? Who cares. Because the spirit of the festival is fun, joy, adventure, experimentation and companionship. There are collab brew days where punters look forward to final products that won’t be tasted for weeks or even months. There’s live music, circus performers, award winners and so many references to hops.
We decided to head down for a few of the Good Beer Week events, including a scavenger hunt and a trivia night, before diving into GABS. The week is also filled with tap takeovers, degustation evenings, panel discussions with brewers and industry people, and so much more.
In all, we attended 3 of the 5 GABS sessions and combined paddles with full glasses throughout. Our top 10 festival favourites (of the 65 we tasted) – in no particular order, we swear – were:
- Pirate Life (SA) – Vanilla Malt Thickshake (on nitro)
- Hop Nation (VIC) – Jedi Juice
- Bucket Boys (NSW) – Red Velvet
- Brothers Beer (NZ) – Donut Stout
- Akasha (NSW) – Lupulin Fog
- Fortitude Brewing (QLD) – Echo Chamber IPA
- Mismatch (SA) – Hazed and Confused
- All Inn (QLD) – Life Is Like A Box of Chocolates
- Chur Brewing (NZ) – Chocolate Fish Milk Stout
- Sailors Grave (VIC) – Milky Way
- Modus Operandi (NSW) – Cascadian Howl
- Stockade Brew Co (NSW) – The Mountie Maple Imperial Stout
There’s no scientific breakdown of each beer, although we’d be happy to tell you why we liked them, but the hazy IPAs with big citrus flavour were the style of the season, and a few breweries nailed it. Lots of sweet beers, of course, but some were too overpowering, some were not full-bodied enough and some just didn’t hit the mark, but a few standouts are listed above.
Feel free to read on to our next post to see what we got up to in more detail, but overall it was a fantastic few days spent in the company of fellow beer-lovers and people out to have a great time.
Will you be there next year?
Cheers and beers,
Matt and Joslyn