GABS is back on again this weekend, which means it’s time to ditch the Pale Ale and expand your beer-y horizons. For those of you living under a coaster, GABS is one of the biggest beer and cider festivals in the world, and local brewers always go all-out trying to top one another with insane beer flavour combos. We’re not talking ‘A hint of mango’ or ‘Subtle caramel notes’. We’re talking fruit tingle beer, chilli beer and tobacco beer (yep, really). GABS is running all weekend, including Friday, at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton. We’re frothing already.
Want to know the weird and wonderful brews you should be drinking this weekend? Read on.
#1 James Squire Zooper Dooper Beer
James Squire's Allan Tilden was sweating bullets over the summer, tinkering with German-style Kolsch beer. He was cooling off with a cheeky fairy floss Zooper Dooper (as you do) and then a little lightbulb pinged in his brain. A few months later the 'Karni Kolsch' was born. It's a fairy floss pale malt Kolsch, made from German Tettnanger hops and spiked with vanilla. Yum.
#2 3 Ravens Mango Lassi IPA
Yep, the guys at 3 Ravens went and combined an IPA with a bloody mango lassi. They’re actually calling it a ‘milkshake’ IPA, which doesn’t sound too appetising, but their track record speaks for itself, so you have to back them in. Beer, good. Lassi, good. What could possibly go wrong?
#3 Red Duck Lemon Lime & Bitters Beer
Now we’re talking! Combining the world’s most refreshing drink (LLB) with its second most refreshing drink (beer) is a stroke of genius. Sounds like you could have a schooner of this and not drink anything else for six months. Red Duck promise a light saison base with kaffir lime, lemon peel and lemon drop hops. Zesty.
#4 Aether Bone Marrow Beer
Bone marrow is having a bit of a moment in Melbourne’s foodie scene, so it’s no big surprise that it surfaced in brew-form at GABS. This is a double Irish red with double-smoked bone marrow, which sounds so rich and dense you could probs eat it with a knife and fork. Malty with a massive head. Summer Ale drinkers might want to steer clear…
#5 Bright Brewery ‘Yippee Thai Yay’
Love the Die Hard reference. Let’s get that out of the way straight up. The beer itself is actually a pale ale infused with the flavours of red curry. Yep, you read that right: a red curry pale ale. What a world we live in. Serve with spring rolls and lettuce cups.
#6 2 Brothers ‘The Smoking Jacket’
Stout fans, sit up and pay attention. This is a sultry little number that’s actually steeped in Cuban tobacco, infused with cognac and aged in oak casks. Sounds like an old-fashioned gentlemen’s parlour in liquid form. All you’re missing is the hunting trophies on the world and the OTT moustaches. Cheers, 2 Brothers.
#7 Merchant Brewing Company ‘Fruit Tingle’
The Fruit Tingle cocktail has been responsible for many a messy night over its long and sordid career. Now some rebel has gone and created it in beer form. This Fruit Tingle beer comes out purple (yum), thanks to a special tea blend, and is then overloaded with raspberries, citrus, fruity hops and lactose to give it a sweet, sweet zing. Probably not what we’d choose to go with our parma on a Saturday night, but it’s bloody perfect for GABS.
#8 Mountain Goat Quetzalacatenango
Brewed deep in the jungle primeval by the inmates of a Guatemalan insane asylum, we present the merciless peppers of Quetzalacatenango! (Simpsons fans will be loving this...we apologize to the rest of you). This is an American ale with a hit of tropical fruit and a special blend of chillies. It’s going toe to toe with the QUET for the title of Hottest In The World. If you suddenly see a talking space coyote, just be cool. That’s meant to happen.
#9 Pact Beer Cookie Porter
Oh man, this is why we love GABS so much. Pact teemed up with Melbourne’s Butterbing Cookie Sandwiches to create a cookie-flavoured porter. Kilos of actual salted caramel cookies were poured into the boil, this thing is like a liquid dessert (for adults only...or very precocious children). Combine with a glass of milk for extra cookie cred, and some serious stomach troubles.
#10 Choice Bros ‘Purple Rain’
There aren’t enough purple drinks in the world. That’s our motto. Choice Bros are doing something about this plight with their new Purple Rain ale, a hoppy blend of Butterfly Pea flowers, citra, wakatu and Eureka Hop Oil. If you don’t know what those ingredients are, don’t worry, it’s a Kiwi thing. Choice bru.
#11 Tallboy & Moose ‘Irish Coffee Carbomb’
Imagine coffee, whisky and beer...all in the one glass. Tallboy & Moose took green coffee beans, aged them in a Starward whisky barrel, roasted them at Red Bean Coffee Roasters and blended the resulting unicorn dust into an Irish red ale that’ll knock your knitted socks off. It packs a wallop. Go steady.
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Image credit: GABS