It’s that time of year again! 156 of Australia and New Zealand’s best brewers make something they’ve never sold before, and the results are unique, often sweet, and sometimes downright weird. Looking through the official festival guide, I’ve decided what I’m looking most forward to trying tomorrow.
1. Sailor’s Grave (VIC) – Wild Strawberries
Sailor’s Grave is well known for making beers with some pretty special natural ingredients. In the past, they’ve used seaweed, marigold flowers, chestnuts and smoked oysters (all in different beers, obviously), just to name a few. So, they’re sure to have the right idea when it comes to extracting the flavour of harvested wild strawberries into a sour, funky beer. We heard nothing but good things about this beer from Melbourne GABS.
For other fruity sours, try:
- Edge Brewing Project’s “Desert Lime Juice Box”
- Hallertau’s “Acid Haus”
- Hawkers/Wheaty/Liberty’s “Framboise a Trois”
- Ministry of Beer’s “Passion Hop”
- Thirsty Crow’s “James & The Giant Rash”
2. Wayward Brewing Co (NSW)– Tennessee Tonic
Wayward have been starting to play around with barrel-aging some of their beers and the results have been spectacular. This particular one is a kettle sour, with added ginger and apple; aged in Jack Daniel’s barrels. When I’m not drinking beer, I’m drinking whisky sours, and this sounds like the perfect mashup.
For other beers that were inspired by cocktails, try:
- Alibi Brewing’s “It’s a Mad Mad Mad World”
- Foghorn Brewhouse’s “Gin Street”
- Grand Ridge’s “Lager-ita”
- Westside Ale Work’s “!Viva! Margoserita”
- Wolf of the Willow’s “Tom Collins Sour”
3.Shifty Lizard Brewing (SA) – Lizard’s Dinner
I don’t know what would compel anyone to put ground crickets in beer, but there always have to be that one GABS weirdo that has to put in bone marrow, beard yeast or some other disgusting thing into a perfectly good beer. I’m going to try it anyway though, because why not?
For other beers filled with weird shit, try:
- Batch Brewing’s “Tea and Space Cookies”
- Blackman’s Brewery “Escargose”
- Foreigner Brewing’s “Durian Durian”
- Semi Pro Brewing’s “Don’t Be A Jerk”
- Willie the Boatman’s “Miso Thirsty”
The only time “cricket” and “beer” should go together.
4. Little Bang Brewing (SA) – Sasquoctopus
Just like the GABS weirdo with strange ingredients, there’s always one that has to test the limits of the responsible service of alcohol. This is a 20.2% beer (can it still legally be called beer?) made by ice-distilling 10.1% American Barleywine Galactopus. An 85mL taster of this is 1.4 standard drinks.
For other beers with stupidly high ABVs, try:
- Australian Beer Co’s “3yr Aged Bourbon Imperial Stout”
- Number 8 on this list
- Number 9 on this list
5. Bucket Boys Craft Beer Co (NSW) – Wubba Lubba Dub Dub
Strange green colour? Check. Mystery ingredient? Check. Rick and Morty reference? Check! Rumour has it this tastes like a sour candy apple, but I just want to try it for the Instagram shot.
For other coloured beers, try:
- Odyssey’s “Blue Heaven Milkshake”
6. Tooborac Brewery (QLD) – Please Sir, I Want S’more
Dessert style beers are nothing new for GABS and often end up being the winners of the people’s choice, which means there’s an often an excess of fairly average, overly sweet porters and stouts. Then, there are the rare exceptions that are actually quite alright, and this appears to be one of them. Inspired by the American fireside treat, it’s been brewed with marshmallows, chocolate and biscuits.
For other dessert imitations, try:
- There’s about 85 others – so they shouldn’t be hard to find.
7. Burnley Brewing (VIC) – Ice Is Back With A Brand New Invention
NEIPAs are the craze of the year, so there’s plenty to try at this year’s GABS. We’re particularly excited for this one, made with real Piccolina Gelateria vanilla ice cream and served on nitro.
For other unique NEIPAs, try:
- Big Shed Brewing Concern’s “Boozy Froot”
- Dainton Brewery’s “Skittlebrau”
- Feral’s “Shooter McGavin’s Breakfast IPA”
- Mornington Peninsula’s “Squidroot”
8. Akasha Brewing Company (NSW) – The Eagle IIIPA
The team at Akasha likes IPAs. First, they made Korben D IIPA. Then, they made Wooden Leg IIIPA, now they’ve made The Eagle IIIIPA. Personally, I think it should have been called “IVPA” or something, but I’m not going to argue with people who are clearly insane.
For other hop-only IPAs (without any crazy ingredients), try:
- Bad Shepard’s “Citrus n Cedar”
- Chaotic’s “DRIPA”
- Coastal Brewing Company’s “Double Treachery”
- Goose Island’s “Redline IPA”
- Kaiju!’s “Spacium Ray”
- Modus Operandi’s “Consummate Sloganeer”
- Pioneer’s “Pioneering the Voyager”,
- Number 10 on this list
9. Mountain Goat (VIC) – Nitro Burnin’ Funny Cars
Last year, Mountain Goat made a chilli beer called Quetzalazatenango. This year, they made an easier to pronounce beer, but still put chillis in it – chipotle, in fact. It’s whisky infused, barrel aged and served on nitro, sure to give it a smoky and spicy flavour.
For other spicy beers, try:
- Laughing Bone’s “Peppertree Saison”
- Shenanigans’ “Pina Picante”
10. Effect Brewing Co (NZ) – Double Drop Central Otago IIPA
Since GABS launched in Auckland, we’ve been able to see some of NZ’s best brewers this size of the Tasman. But, this one is a more of a patriotic choice, given that I’m actually half New Zealander – a fact that usually only comes out when the All Blacks are playing the Wallabies and I get to pick the side of whoever’s winning (it’s usually the All Blacks). My father grew up in Otago, which is a world-famous wine region, so the beer has been fermented with both wine and ale yeast, dosed with a heap of Kiwi hops.
For other NZ beers, try:
- 8 Wired’s “Stone Free”
- Brother’s Beer’s “Laksa Ale”
- Deep Creek’s “Steam Funk”
- Epic’s “Beer Blanket”
- Funk Estate’s “Tang Town: Turbo Shandy”
- Piha’s “NZ Hangi Beer”
- and a dozen more.