The Beer Days Highlights of GABS 2016
GABS, we miss you already! The food was excellent, the punters were happy, the security guards were reassuringly burly, the volunteers were perky, the brewers were proud, and the beers – well, the beers shone. Beer Days' GABS highlights were many and varied. Here is but a sample of our GABS 2016 shenanigans.
Colin is the beverage master at Sydney’s Local Taphouse and at GABS he was manning the Local Sour Bar. We knew the evening was off to a good start when, asked to recommend a sour to kick things off, the words Rodenbach Foederbier fell from his lips. Having recently featured the Belgian brewery’s outstanding Grand Cru in our May beer box, we knew we were in for a treat. Plus, Colin said it was an awesome beer and it was clear that Colin’s opinion was worth listening to. Puckeringly sour, tart, with cherry pit, lemon, and tannin in the aroma and the flavour, this Belgian amber was going to be a hard act to follow. What a beauty.
Time to hit up the festival beer bar for some of the beers brewed specifically for GABS. With one hundred to choose from it can be hard to know where to start and good to have a well thought out, strategic approach. Or you can just dive right in with your tasting paddle like we did. We managed to stay afloat and chalked up our two favourite GABS special brews as the Akasha Brewing Co's Iago's Revenge and Big Shed Brewing's Beery Ripe Porter.
That Akasha black IPA - phwoar. Dark as a vengeful heart, bitter as a spurned lover, it has a beautiful roasted malt body holding all that citrus, resin and pine hop character together. At 9.8%, we had to have a wee sit down and some mac 'n' cheese to recover before the next round but boy is it a serious and seriously good brew.
Big Shed's Porter is a cherry ripe in a beer but with enough complexity and subtlety to keep it from just being a fun novelty beer. Coconut, glace cherries and cacau give it that distinctive red wrapper taste and lactose sugar balances it out with a nice but not sickly level of sweetness tempered by a pleasing dry finish.
Next it was time to visit a couple of Beer Days favourite breweries and see what they dishing up for GABS 2016. It was a family affair at Napoleone where young Jasper was joining his dad Pete and brewer Ben for his first (legal) GABS festival. Ben sorted us out with one of Napoleone's classic dry ciders which was a refreshing and antidote to our dark and heavy festival brew session. But it was their Steinbier that really took our fancy. Brewed in collaboration with Red Duck using the traditional method of adding super heated rocks to boil the wort. The result is a deliciously scorched toffee and caramel taste. Good stuff indeed from the guys that delivered the very popular ESB to our May beer box.
Then we hit up Brooks and Andrew at Nomad and had a go at the new Brookvaler Weisse. This subtle, pale sour features native lemongrass, the taste of which we found appeared and then lingered long after. The lemongrass is an interesting addition to the usual citrus profile - we're fans of this lovely sessionable brew. But then, it is Nomad, so no surprises there.
From the bright lights of the beachy Nomad bar we sidled into Panhead's shadowy den of beer-iquity. Panhead went all out with their bar and it was the stand out at GABS this year. It was like stepping into the coolest bikey bar you've ever seen but without fearing for your life. Gareth was flatout delivering the goods to the many Panhead fans but got us sorted out in no time with a Lola Deville saison and a Greasy Monk saison - same style but two very different beasts. The Lola was a little too spritzy for us at that point in the evening but come a Sunday sesh and she'd be our girl for sure. The Greasy Monk is a new addition to Panhead's repertoir and will no doubt be yet another hit for the NZ brewers. Loved the citrus and peppery bite but it also had a full, smooth body and was just the brew to close out the night on.
GABS 2016 - another epic and excellent festival. We're counting down the days to GABS 2017 already.