Ordering a beer sounds straightforward enough but a festival in Melbourne wants to help people make better choices by giving them a chance to try more than 450 beers.

This year's Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular - or GABS for short - in Melbourne has almost 500 beers from across Australia and New Zealand on its menu, including 120 specially brewed beers.

The three-day festival, which began on Friday, is not a swillathon, organisers say.

It's a chance for people to experiment with their tastes and learn about craft beers, and what styles of beers are more suited to their tastes.

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Almost 500 beers from Australia and New Zealand are on the menu. Photo / GABS
Almost 500 beers from Australia and New Zealand are on the menu. Photo / GABS

Whether it's a black IPA with a dark chocolate aftertaste, or a strong pale ale that follows French tradition, there's something for everyone.

There are no "bad" beers here - just beers for different tastes and expectations.

And finding out which beer makes you go back for more - or gag - is part of the learning experience at GABS.

At $11.75 a tasting paddle - which contains five 85ml tasters - it's a lot less scary than committing to a $16 craft beer at the pub.

"For the average person, it's a big step to go and spend their hard-earned money on a craft beer," founder Steve Jeffares told AAP.

The growing number of small batch beers on the Australian market can also confuse people.

"It's bloody overwhelming for them," Jeffares says.

GABS hopes attendees walk away with the tools to make better choices.

"It's about educating people," Jeffares says.

Cider will also be included at the festival, for the first time ever. Photo / GABS
Cider will also be included at the festival, for the first time ever. Photo / GABS

And if they get to taste 10 unique beers under the opulent dome of the Royal Exhibition Building in the process, then so be it.

On top of GABS' beer list, there's also 10 special edition ciders from around Australia.

It's the first time cider has been included at the festival, now in its sixth year.

The festival is travelling to Sydney in a week's time after debuting there last year, and will hold its inaugural Auckland festival in June.

As much as the festival has played a part in expandings people's tastes in beer, it also works the other way around.

Organisers say the festival also inspires brewers to get creative.

"There's been plenty of success stories that were only intended to appear at GABS, but then evolved following the interest and demand generated here," Jeffares says.

"GABS is a forum to shake your shackles off and do something you wouldn't normally do."

The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular in Melbourne runs until Sunday evening.

- AAP