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Great Australian Beer Festival: A survival guide

February 20, 2015

[As the weather warms (unless you’re in Queensland this weekend) and a beer lover’s thoughts turn to Festivals, it’s a good time to stop and remind ourselves that a beer fest is a marathon, not a sprint, and that it can be a long day in the sun if approached without at least a thread of caution. The thoughtful folk at Beer Ambassadors, organisers of tomorrows GABF at Geelong have produced this handy guide to navigating the swathes of brews and ciders as well as tips to negotiate the various activities, food outlets, Ed Seminars and roving performers. Oh, and I’ll be there to lend a hand should you need a beer recommendation or just directions to the toilets. PM]

GABF Geelong logo

GABF is so much more than a beer & cider tasting fest!

Sure, you’ll have 200 beers and ciders from which to choose from and this is the chance you’ve been waiting for all year. Grab it and indulge in beers you’ve probably never heard of before.

GABF is also a grand social outing and opportunity to hang out with friends, make new ones, catch up with colleagues and generally enjoy summer to its fullest. Oh, also great live entertainment, free seminars featuring 3 Masterchef contestants, a great selection of fine foods from tastes of the region section with a fine selection of restaurants dishing up superb gourmet food and popular food trucks. Don’t miss the inaugural running of the GABF Brewer Keg Rolling Competition – heats taking place on the race track.

Discovering great craft brews is a quest. Follow these few tips and you’re on the way to experiencing Victoria’s premier craft beer festival.


Have a plan – Don’t just roll up Saturday, take time to do a little planning.


GABF is a summer beer festival – make sure you check the weather and dress accordingly. We’ll help you here, it’s forecast to be sunny and delightfully warm; approx. 30 degrees with a beautiful south easterly breeze. The Racecourse is an ideal venue with loads of shade and we’ve arrange for heaps more umbrellas to provide even more cover. We’ve also set up a mist spray for a cool burst of mist. Please remember to bring along your sunscreen!

Eat – Have a light meal before you come so you don’t feel the effects early on. We have a fantastic selection of gourmet food vendors on site that will ensure you have plenty to choose from during the day.

Comfort – Don’t bring chairs but you’re most welcome, and even encouraged, to bring a picnic or travel rug to chill out on any of our lawn sections.

Don’t bring food with you – No food or beverages other than water is permitted on site. Water bottles must be sealed and unopened.

Transport – Travelling with friends, driving your own car, catching public transport or taxi, or using our shuttle bus service from South Geelong train station. Plan your arrival and most importantly how you’re getting home. Shuttles will depart approx. every 15 minutes and the cost is $3 per ride.

Know your way around – When you enter fest, take time to walk around and read your program. Get an idea of:

  • where the brewers and ciders are located
  • what food is on offer
  • Where stages and Beer Cabaret is located
  • Token site locations, ATMs
  • Toilets and amenities

Tip: Decide which beers are “must tries” and plan which you will try in order of lightest (in flavour) to heaviest. Rate them from 1-5 in the notes section of the program so you can easily remember.

FREE Seminars – Learn more about your favourite brews at one or more of the FREE seminars (refer program). Attendance will be on first come first served basis. We have even arranged for free samples at many of the seminars to ensure your learning is enhanced.

Tip: Seminars were so popular last year that we strongly advise you check what’s on early and identify the classes that you would like to attend.

Drink Water – Stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water. There will be a free water on-site and make sure if bringing your own then it’s in a sealed/unopened bottle. Water is also a great way to keep your palate fresh.

Pace Yourself – Besides the water trick you should also pace yourself. This is not a contest and is more about the quality rather than the quantity. Drink responsibly, relax, and savour the day. Drink too much and you’re likely to forget those good times.

Bring a Pen, you might not plan to get all beer-geeky about the festival but odds are you will come across a beer or three that you really like and want to remember to buy more of later. No matter how good your mental notepad is you will not remember all the beers & ciders you tried; trust us. The most common question we hear after a festival is, “What was that one beer, you know, the one that was really good that we tried after that other one?” The event program has space to make notes.

Bring a Camera – Beer festivals attract characters and our roving performers may just create moments worth capturing. Post your photos and show the world what you’re up to.

Child Friendly Event – GABF is suitable to bring along your young children (1-12) and we have arranged a few activities and jumping castle for them during the day. There is no charge for children of this age to enter and also the activities are free.

Beer Fest Etiquette – Pushing and shoving at beer serving points is never cool. Likewise, after you’ve got your beer, move well away so others can get theirs. Expect to receive small portions of beer – 100 & 200ml servings. It doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up to a lot of beer quaffing. If you are served a beer you don’t like, don’t hesitate to turf it. The grass is dry at this time of the year. Why get one step closer to your personal limit drinking marginal beers?

Ask Questions – take a few minutes to talk with brewery representatives, or better yet, the brewer them self as most will be there on Saturday. The more you learn about beer styles and the brewing process, the richer and more fulfilling your beer experiences will be.

Take a Quiet Moment – before leaving take time out to ponder how you made it so far in life without your brand new favourite brew. Maybe even pick up a GABF souvenir on the way out?

Have Fun – like we need to tell you that. Cheers!


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