Melbourne is truly blessed to have a first-class craft beer scene, and GABS, for several years now, has been the embodiment of that scene and the pinnacle of the craft beer calendar.
There are five GABS sessions in all, and we were lucky enough to attend the ‘marquee’ Saturday evening session. It’s the consumer event of all consumer events, and as we ventured down the excitement was palpable. People had been waiting all year for this, there were smiles on faces — and literal jumping up and down with excitement.
The team does a great job of capturing and enhancing the festival spirit from the very first moment. Our first moments saw the Royal Exhibition building was lit up in all its glory, beer songs while we waited and the tolling of the bell. Inside we were greeted with an amazing visual, aural and taste-bud tingling feast. There was interactivity, musicians, roving performers and oh-em-gee a FERRIS WHEEL! I have been to many a festival inside the Royal Exhibition building but never before had I seen a ferris wheel. I couldn’t help thinking that it was the centre piece of the festival, then I remembered — beer.
While the festival has somewhat transcended its beginnings as a purely craft beer oriented event, beer is very much still the focus. Brewers go to a lot of effort to brew ‘festival beers’. These are never-tried-before concoctions that brewed especially for GABS. This year there were 120 festival beers, it’s a lot to get through and I suggest some kind of strategy. Luckily I was in good hands with The Plus Ones’ craft beer specialist taking me on a guided tour! Aside from the festival beers each brewery has several other tap beers. In total, I suspect there are close to 400 beers for your palate to enjoy.
We soaked in the atmosphere and somehow ended up in a ‘taste bugs’ class. Yep, bugs. I hadn’t experienced the classes before at GABS, but I loved that they happen. The class saw us eating several dishes of cricket that were paired with beer. It was definitely an experience and next year I’ll be making a point of going to more classes.
The evening provided several hours of fun, and came to an end all too soon! Well done to the team for pulling off another epic festival. We can’t wait for next year.
The Plus Ones co-founder, Rukmal lives and breathes events.
GABS runs yearly, so don’t miss out on the next big event. Tell your friends in Sydney and Auckland to get in on it as well.