Beer festival

A chat with the co-creator of GABS

Steve Jeffares, co-owner of The Local Taphouse and one of the creators of the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular aka GABS obviously loves a beer.

So has he tried to make some himself? Read his answers to that and other less stupid questions below.

Where did the idea for GABS come from?
We have run almost 30 SpecTAPular seasonal beer festivals at The Local Taphouse in Sydney and Melbourne and we’re always trying to think of new themes. A couple of summers ago, 22 Australian breweries unexpectedly accepted our invitation to brew a special beer just for the event. We called it the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular and it was very popular and a lot of fun. Guy and I had been discussing for some time the idea of organising a SpecTAPular in a bigger venue and we thought GABS could be different from most beer festivals.

The Local Taphouse co-owners and GABS creators Guy Greenstone and Steve Jeffares.

The Local Taphouse co-owners and GABS creators Guy Greenstone and Steve Jeffares.

How do you convince a lot of breweries to make a new beer just for the festival?
More and more of the breweries are releasing one-off beers throughout the year so we simply thought that if they all released a new beer at the same time, it would be something to celebrate. We tap more than 350 different beers each year at each Taphouse so we know most of the brewers well and managed to convince them to support the idea. It also brings out their competitive streaks and is an opportunity to have some fun.

How many different beers are you expecting to have this year?
We had quite a number of breweries last year who we couldn’t accommodate with 60 taps so this year we are hoping for 100 festival beers.

Are they just from Australia and New Zealand or is the net spread a bit further this year?
The vast majority will be from around Australia with some from New Zealand. We have also set aside about 10 per cent of the taps for some invited breweries from the likes of Italy, the USA, England, Denmark and Japan.

Do you try them all ahead of time?
Unfortunately, there is no time although we might sneak a few samples when testing the tap system at the Royal Exhibition Building the day before GABS opens!

Have you done any homebrewing or thought to brew a beer for the festival yourself?
I’ve been around while others homebrew but to date, I’ve left it to the experts. The Local Taphouse ‘‘Ale Star’’ club members brewed two beers this year, so maybe they’ll have a tap next year!

Will there be any changes in the way this year’s event is run as compared to last year’s?
Most definitely. We got much constructive feedback last year and there are many changes we are trying out this year to improve the event.

I’ve heard people talk about long queues for some sessions last year. Are you doing anything different to address this?
Yes. We have completely redesigned the Container Bars so people can purchase beer quicker. We are also introducing the new GABS ‘‘Beer Market’’ where breweries and related businesses can showcase their products at their own stands.

Finally, do you hear of many people who get through all the beers on offer at GABS?
Last year we heard of a few but it’s not a smart idea to try all beers in one session. This year, to help the more serious beer fans, we have introduced a great value Season Pass which allows you to attend as many sessions as you like.

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