This year will be the third time I’ve attended GABS. Being a bit of an overplanner, I tended to go nuts and work out all the paddles I would try.
These would be structured around getting all five samples from the one bar and then, within each paddle, sorting them from lightest to heaviest, to ensure I was tasting them appropriately.
Then I would revise them, because I found another beer I had to try.
I would link to these posts but, to be frank, they’re a trifle embarassing. But you can search for them yourself if you want. Some of them may even have been tagged ‘‘what a dickhead’’ (that’s a joke: don’t actually go looking for that tag).
In the second session last year I stumbled on the best way to approach GABS. Well best for me anyway. And I will link to this post, because it’s not dickheady in any way. Basically, you forget about the damn tasting paddles and treat GABS like a one big bar (which it kind of is when you think about it) where you check out the taps and then go ‘‘I’ll have one of those’’.
Instead of getting a small tasting cup, you get them to fill your GABS Coopers’-branded glass. Now, I will be doing a bit of research ahead of time. But that will consist of nothing more than looking through the GABS beer list and circling the stuff I want to try.
Some will hate this approach because it means they will surely miss out on trying beers. But I figure, unless you’re going to every session and have an iron liver, you’ll miss out on beers anyway.
Also, when I buy a new beer at a bottle shop or bar I don’t want a little taster, I want a glassful. And it’ll be the same at GABS too. It just seems more fun that way. And just for shits and giggles I might ask Twitter to tell me which beer to drink.
There will be some tasting paddle use – for me it seems the smart way to navigate through the high-alcohol beers at GABS. But the others, well, they’ll be drunk in big glasses.
Really?! I disagree. You get through a lot more beers using the paddle than the glass and with a lot of the beers at GABS; even the good ones, they’re a little too intense for a whole glass, but are still worth the experience.
Good luck to you though. I certainly see the merit in enjoying a full beer over the taster.
My approach is more on enjoying the beers I do drink rather than trying to taste as many as possible.
I went all-paddle for the first time I went in 2013 with the specific aim to drink as many as possible. But it just felt like work rather than fun to me. In 2014, I opted to try drinking full glasses. I found the latter much more enjoyable, so I’ll be doing that again this year.
Except where big beers are concerned. Those high-alcohol ones will be tasted in paddles.
I’m heading to my first GABS this year. Good to see both sides of the argument. I’m thinking I might start with a paddle to get some broad exposure, then get on the glasses, kicking off with my favourite from the paddle