Beer festival

The GABS Top 10 – a review

The lovely Melbourne home of the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular. At night, obviously.

The lovely Melbourne home of the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular. At night, obviously.

About two weeks ago I posted my top 10 must-try list for the festival beers at GABS. Earlier this week I had someone asking me if I was going to give feedback on what I thought of the beers.

I hadn’t planned on doing that, but it’s always nice that someone cares enough about my opinion to ask for it, so here goes.

Bear in mind that some of these will be pretty sketchy. That might be because I was drunk at the time, or because I was too busy talking with people to pay detailed attention to the beer. And also because I wasn’t planning on writing this anyway.

Got it? Good.

1) 4 Hearts Brewing – Wabbit Saison: It’s a beer made with carrots. How can you not want to try that? Even if I told you it was crap, you’d still want to try it. So good for you it’s not crap. Not even close. The carrot is more for colour than flavour and the flavour is of a very drinkable saison.

2) Akasha Brewing Company – Fire Within: I liked Dave Padden’s work at Riverside and this would be the first chance I had to try a beer from his new brewery. It’s a big imperial amber ale, coming in at 8.5 per cent. And it does taste like a high ABV beer, but it’s still tasty. I’d recommend trying it – but maybe opt for a taster rather than a full glass.

3) Bacchus Brewing Company – Atomic Lemon Lime and Bitters: Take a lemon, lime and bitters and then make it sour. That’s what this beer tastes like. Would be sensational on a hot day.

4) BrewCult – Milk and Two Sugars: Every year Hendo brews a beer for GABS that does what it says on the label. And this is no exception. I did write down a fair bit of stuff for this beer in the GABS guide but I’m buggered if I can read it (which it what happens when your notes are part shorthand, part tipsy). I do know it boasts coffee aromas and flavours, with a smidge of milky sweetness. While I would have liked a bit more of that milky sweetness, I’ll still be buying a few bottles of this when it comes out.

5) Bridge Road Brewers – Creek: I actually don’t remember this beer. I know I drank it but I don’t recall much about it. I take that as a good sign because I think Bridge Road make uniformly excellent beers and, if I can’t recall this one, it must have been up to their usual standards. With the knowledge of their quality the only way they could have made an impression on my tipsy self was by being not up to scratch. And that didn’t happen. You follow?

6) HopDog BeerWorks – Taxidermied Pachyderm: Don’t tell Tim Thomas but this one was a bit of a surprise. Tagged a ‘‘barrel-aged Belgo India Rye Brown Ale’’, I was concerned that mish-mash of styles would result in a mish-mash of a beer. Nope. It all works well together and is much smoother than expected.

7) Modus Operandi Brewing Company – L90: A double IPA coming in at 9 per cent, this beer has mangoes and honey in it. I didn’t really detect either of those additions. But I do recall my strong reaction to this beer was ‘‘sticky’’. Which I guess is a good thing in a double IPA – especially one with honey in it.

8) Pikes Beer Company – Tonic Ale: I wanted to try this because it was low in alcohol (just 2.3 per cent) and I like to support lower alcohol options. But I didn’t actually like this one. Which probably has something to do with the fact I don’t like tonic water. Should have seen that one coming, shouldn’t I?

9) Red Island Brewing Company – Quiet Deeds Smoked Hefeweizen: In a word, nice. It’s not a banana lolly style of hefe. And the smokiness is understated, which might not help it stand up against all the wild and whacky beers at GABS. But I reckon that this will still be a winner if and when they can it. I’ll be buying some for sure.

10) Two Birds Brewing – Pina Colada: It pains me to say it, but this one was a bit of a disappointment for me. And that hurts because I LOVE their 2013 GABS beer Taco (even had one while I was at GABS this year – and it was still good). But with this year’s beer, I just couldn’t taste any of the pineapple and coconut that’s supposed to be in it. Without that, it just comes off as an IPA. A nice IPA sure but one that didn’t fulfil the promise of the description.

The real surprise packet wasn’t in my top 10. In fact it was only included because I needed to add one more biggish beer to fill out a tasting paddle from section one of container A. That would be the Big Shed Golden Stout Time, which tastes just like a Golden Gaytime. If I was able to get to GABS in Sydney this Saturday, that would be the first beer I had.

As it is, I just have to hope they’ll bottle it so I can try it again. Sooooooo goooood.

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