GABS beer festival set to grace Auckland with over 300 types of beer

By Sarah Harris

Wellington brewery Funk Estate founder Jordan Evison ringing the session bell at last year's GABS festival. Photo / Supplied
Wellington brewery Funk Estate founder Jordan Evison ringing the session bell at last year's GABS festival. Photo / Supplied

Beer with a difference will be poured at the upcoming Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular - with drops featuring ingredients as diverse as cognac, tobacco, double smoked bone marrow, raspberries, chillies, salted caramel and kina.

The festival is coming to Auckland's ASB Showgrounds for its second year on June 16 and 17.

It made headlines last year with a bellybutton-fluff beer. Three Australian brewers harvested their bellybutton fluff, cultivated yeast from it and then chose the best one to go with, GABS founder Steve Jeffares explained. Another beer was made with ambergris, otherwise known as whale vomit.

"It wasn't a terrible beer but it kinda went viral," Jeffares told the Weekend Herald regarding the bellybutton beer.

"There are a handful who get super-creative. But the vast majority are much more palatable than those two."

GABS co-founders Steve Jeffares and Guy Greenstone. Photo / Supplied
GABS co-founders Steve Jeffares and Guy Greenstone. Photo / Supplied

Jeffares said more common ingredients included citrus or stone fruit, chilli, chocolate and coffee.

More than 50 breweries and 300 beers will be represented at the festival. There will be 80 festival beers and ciders - drops that have never been brewed before. The beer will be set among food stalls, roaming musicians, entertainment, and a "Craft College" beer school.

Wellington brewery Funk Estate founder Jordan Evison is thrilled to showcase eight beers at the festival. Their festival beer is a pink IPA.

"We just thought it'd be something a bit out there.

"It's about innovating, keep it exciting. It's not an industry that's about coming up with one recipe and thrashing it. Keep inventing pretty much."

The festival started in 2011 in Australia as a way to promote brewers' creativity. As it was a smash hit Jeffares brought it to Auckland for the first time last year.

Beer fanatics can taste a tipple with beer samples served on paddles. Each 85mL glass costs around $2.20 or $11 for five.

"By trying small samples people are more open to taking risks," Jeffares said.

"We work hard to provide an environment for people to try new things. They find new flavours, brewers and beers they haven't contemplated before."

Jeffares said they don't encourage people to try every beer, but some still attempt it. With beers that can range up to 22 per cent alcohol some pints pack a mighty punch.

"It's never a good idea to try every beer."

Saturday evening may be the most popular session with a screening of the Maori All Blacks vs Lions on giant screens throughout the festival hall.

Tickets start at $40 for a single session or $120 for a season pass.

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson

​Quirky beers

"You Don't Have To Be Nuts To Work Here" by Bureaucracy in Hamilton - chestnuts, chillies and plenty of caramel and roast flavours to blend it all together. The result is sweet and nutty with a little bit of heat.

"No Whey? Yes Whey!" by Emporium Brewing in Christchurch/Kaikoura - a Belgian style white sweet stout made from goat's cheese whey, coffee, roasted chocolate nibs and vanilla. The lactose-rich whey adds body to the beer, and some residual sweetness.

"Pink Drink IPA" by Funk Estate in Wellington - a light, hop-driven IPA with tropical/citrus hoppy goodness. They've used a selection of their favourite pink ingredients - hibiscus, rosehips, pink peppercorn and pink grapefruit to result in a deliciously pink drink.

Craft brewing

The brewing time ranges from two weeks to six months
Core ingredients - malt, yeast, hops and water
Alcohol percentage can range from 2 per cent up to around 20 per cent
Brewed on a small scale with batches ranging from 500L to 10,000L

- NZ Herald

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