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GABS (formerly the 'Great Australian Beer Spectacular') is our favourite part of Good Beer Week. For one glorious weekend (Friday to Sunday) the REB plays host to brewers from around the world, showing off outrageous one-off brews. Though the event is nominally beer-based, it's over the last few years it's become a celebration of anything weird and delicious. If you’re planning a day at GABS, or got super keen and purchased a weekend pass, we’ll help you get the most beer for your buck.
Here are 8 delicious things to do at GABs this year.
Weird Festival Beers
This isn’t just any old beer festival—GABS features some seriously inventive, off-the-wall creations that'll never pop-up in shops. This is the beer equivalent of the car show, with high-tech models that may never make it to general production. Over three container bars will be there, pouring 60 taps each (yikes!), and each brewer is encouraged to get creative. There are some standard sounding ales, of course, but for the truly adventurous, why not have a look at Torquay’s Blackman’s Brewery and their escargot gose, or Feral’s hilariously titled ‘Shooter McGavin’s Breakfast IPA’ (it's loaded with cereal goodness).
Beer & Food Classes
GABS is packed with food options. But if you’re looking to really take advantage of the knowledge and experience of the industry pros, then get to these free events. Mlawa Cheese is hosting an in-depth beer and cheese pairing party (with plenty to try, of course), and 400 Gradi’s Johnny di Francesco is running a Neopolitan pizza masterclass. And you better believe there’ll be beer to wash down those crispy slices.
Yenda Wheel of Beer
Not everything at GABS is heavy on froths. Although this one's called the Wheel Of Beer, it's really more of an indoor Ferris Wheel. In fact it's the only indoor beer festival Ferris Wheel in the world (good trivia).You get a great view of the Exhibition Building from the top, and it’s a great excuse to just sit and let those beers settle (Rule #1 of GABs: pace yourself). Even better—each $6 ride goes straight to fighting Motor Neuron Disease.
Brick Lane Brewing Craft College
Want to get a little technical? Check out the Brick Lane Brewing Craft College. Over a series of talks, the best in the beer business will guide you through the finer points of brewing, the beer industry and anything else cold and bubbly. Learn barrel aged beers with members of Mountain Goat and Holgate, or get the lowdown on the unsung hero of the beer show—hops—with the guys from Burnley Brewing, Kaiju and others.
Every festival these days has to bring its Foodie A-Game. It’s part of living in food-crazy Melbourne, but we won’t settle for hot chips or a snag these days. Keep yourself fresh by eating well (it’s the smart thing to do when the name of the game is drinking beer). The best place to do it is the Street Food Market. Highlights include burger masters 8-Bit, 90s hip hop kebabs (it’s a thing) from Biggie Smalls, and Mac Daddy doing mac n’ cheese and nothing but.
MiniGolf On The 19th Hole
The legends at Holey Moley have teamed up with Port Melbourne’s Colonial Brewing Co this year to bring three holes of miniature golf, a handful of regular sized beers, and a whole lot of fun. Try and take the bragging rights over your friends with the club before retiring to the adjacent Colonial Caddyshack for some cool, refreshing ales to soothe your golf-weary bones.
Starward and Four Pillars Gin Barrel-Aged Spirits Bar
GABS is more than beer, and this bar-within-a-beer-hall is proof. Local artisan distillers of whisky (Starward) and gin (Four Pillars) are barrel-aging everything and slinging it to patrons on their upper-level bar overlooking the Wheel Of Beer. Get away from the chaotic hustle and bustle of the main floor and relax with a very special selection of classy spirits and cocktails.
Stomping Ground Silent Disco
There’s nothing silent about a giant hall full of beer and good times, but Collingwood’s finest brewery, Stomping Ground, has engineered a way around that. Enter the silent disco. Whether you’re looking to soundtrack your drinking experience (beer and music pairings might be the next big thing) or get the urge to boogie in amongst the revellers, they’ve got you covered. Get some headphones and choose from two channels of tunes (rock or pop bangers) and show everyone your moves.
Tired of the same old froths? Check out the best sour beers of 2018.
Image credit: The Local Tap House
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