So, I’m back in my dear old Melbourne taking full advantage of my well-timed unemployment to attend GABS: the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular. It’s rather a treat, and will warrant a proper write-up (or several), but I just want to use the last few moments before my sleep-deprived brain implodes to upload a few photos.
— The Location
The venue — the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens — is right in my old neighbourhood (at the end of my genuinely lovely one-time ten minute walk to work, in fact), and it’s freakin’ gorgeous. The bars were in the East and West wings, renamed as the “Malt” and “Hops” Ends; the latter seeming to have just a bit more going on, which nicely fits the current state of the market and its fashions. The center contained a stage upon which a good collection of bands performed — usually slightly too loud.
— The Beer
The selection of beer on offer — nearly sixty mostly-one-off brews from New Zealand and Australia — is headcrushingly varied and enticing. It skews somewhat to the experimental and odd, but not in a stuntish or boringly overblown way. The huge bars were well prepped and keyed mainly towards serving five-sample tasting trays, with payments all handled by familiar and ubiquitous tokens that help you forget just how much you’re spending. I kept things fairly sedate — I was slightly less sleep-deprived than now, but still extraordinarily so and had odd-job volunteer work to do off and on through the night. I had a tasting tray of the five mildest beers on offer (all ≤4.5% ABV), but later rewarded myself with a proper-glass nightcap of Garage Project’s ‘Double Day of the Dead’, a worthy (and embiggened) reincarnation of my Favourite Beer of 2012. There’s plenty more I want to try, but I am going to three more sessions; there’s time.