Ain’t no party like a SpecTAPular party. The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular rolled into the World Heritage Listed Royal Exhibition Building with literal truckloads of beer. I joined what’s considered one of the best beer festivals in the world for their 2023 Melbourne kick-off and a taste of what’s to come for Sydney and Brisbane. Over 100 breweries submitted weird, wonderful and never-before-seen beers to the GABS container bars. Lining up for a tasting paddle of these unique creations is a must on the festival checklist. Some personal favorites from this year’s batch of creative brews include Frexi Brewing’s pizza beer with tomato, basil, and oregano. Also, CoConspirators’ pastry stout made with caramel, chocolate ice-cream, and soy sauce. Hello umami!
I also highly recommend stopping by the Deeds Brewing pop-up bar. Their BBA Peanut Butter Imperial Stout just won Best Specialty Flavoured Beer at the Australian International Beer Awards. The brewery took home the Champion Medium Australian Brewery trophy too! Other highlights included silliness at the exhibitor stands. A sassy drag queen spun Hawkes’ Hills Hoist of Fortune for prizes from that were much more appealing than a bag of goon. Stomping Ground offered zodiac readings. And Mountain Goat’s staff truly committed to their Wayne’s World theme. My +1 with an incurable sweet tooth made a beeline for Atomic’s VoVo coconut meringue raspberry sour – topped with whip and its namesake’s biscuit. Followed by Bright Brewery’s Jam Donut beer paired with actual doughnuts.
This year GABS swapped the traditional silly hat Sunday theme for an 80s party with side-ponies and mullets galore. Melbourne rocked out to a live band performing Queen. However, I’m feeling a little jealous of Sydney for a different kind of royalty appearing in the Emerald City this year. Beer royalty Steve Grossman from Sierra Nevada (USA) and Paul Jones from Cloudwater Brewing Co (UK) are headlining a gala dinner with the GABS International Brewers Collective. GABS is a beer festival like non-other and remains a highlight on my calendar every year. Though I did notice the festival was smaller in terms of exhibitors than in years past. With two years of lockdowns followed by staffing and supply shortages, it serves as another reminder of the importance of supporting your indie locals. The second reminder is to book your festival tickets. It’s an ale of a time.
– Jenny S.
Jenny loves the magic of fermentation and supports craft beer alchemy.
GABS 2023 Festival Dates:
Melbourne – Fri 19th to Sun 21st May
Sydney – Fri 2nd and Sat 3rd June
Brisbane – Sat 10th June