The beer is flowing across Victoria for Good Beer Week, but the tidal wave is yet to hit. The biggest influx of brewing industry representatives, and their beers, is expected to hit Melbourne around Thursday for the Craft Brewers Conference, the Australian International Beer Awards and the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular.
I asked the event’s organisers, Steve Jeffares and Guy Greenstone from The Local Taphouse, how they used the lessons of last year’s GABS, the first held at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Centre, to shape this year’s event.
“The obvious lesson we learnt from last year was that having one large bar where people could get samples of every beer doesn’t work when it gets very busy,” Steve told Australian Brews News.
“This year we have broken the bars up, with each serving a smaller selection of beers. Whereas last year there were really only four access points to buying a beer, this year there are more than 70.”
I asked Steve what achievement he found most satisfying when planning for this year’s GABS.
“Having so many breweries launch a new beer at GABS is arguably a highlight but the addition of the new Beer Market, where many excellent breweries are showcasing their regular beers at their own stands, is very exciting too.”
The option to purchase a Season Pass ticket, providing access to all five sessions of GABS across the weekend, has proven very popular for eager event goers. It has also indicated the strong interest of many beer lovers to attempt a tasting of all 92 festival beers across the three days.
“Pace yourself, drink plenty of water and make sure you eat something. While the specially brewed festival beers are very exciting, people won’t have tried many of the beers in the Dan Murphy’s Beer Market so factor in those too.”
The SpecTAPular is not all about drinking beer. The Craft Beer College, hosted by Australian Brews News’ own Pete Mitcham, will provide beer education and brewer Q&A sessions. There will also be live music, gourmet food stalls and traditional pub games.
GABS has been designed as a celebration of craft brewing to be enjoyed in a Bavarian beer hall like atmosphere. Steve noted that the greatness of the event will come from the combination of its scale, the participation of many world renowned brewers, and the overall unique experience that is not available anywhere else in Australia.
“We hope that people who come to GABS will take away with them a sense that they’ve experienced a craft beer adventure by sampling such a large variety of craft beers from so many leading craft breweries.”