The Weird and Wonderful World of GABS

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Over 170 beers brewed just for a festival, over three cities, two countries and only one beer can be named champion. GABS is back, no doubt bigger and crazier than last year, starting in late May in Melbourne and Sydney and flying over the ditch to Auckland in middle June. If you have never been before, GABS is a wild party of entertainers, great food and more beer than you can possibly try in one sitting (not that we all don’t attempt to).

At the end of each session, punters vote for the beer they believe was their favourite. South Australia has had some great success over the years with our GABS beers and again this year we have thrown down the challenge with some outstanding sounding beers. Big Shed’s Golden Stout Time was conceived for this festival in 2015, is still a part of their core range and is still ridiculously popular today. Pirate Life placed 2nd last year with their 14% triple IPA called Loose Lips Sinks Ships. Prancing Pony’s Imperial Pilsener still stands in their core heritage range today, Mismatch’s Negroni IPA was used in a specialty pack sold at Dan Murphys after the event and Robe Town’s Ambergris Amber received international attention.

But what beers are South Australian brewers bringing to the table this year?

Prancing Pony: Black IPA ‘HUNT FOR THE RED VELVET’

A blend of their Russian Imperial Stout and the world famous Indian Red Ale, forms a Black IPA. According to head brewer Frank Samson, the result is ‘a black forest cake soaked in a cherry liquor.’ No adjuncts were used to create these flavours, as Prancing Pony stick to the water, malt, hops and yeast. A 9.6 percent beast that is said to have a ‘nice reddish dark brown colour.’

Mismatch: New England Double IPA ‘HAZED AND CONFUSED’

With their new brewery being built as I write this, Mismatch continue to experiment with recipes that could one day be a regular core range beer. New England IPAs are a style that has drawn a lot of attention of late and head brewer Ewan Brewerton decided that this was the right time to give one a crack. A hazy hop bomb, jammed packed with some super juicy hop flavours that screams tropical fruit platter.

Big Shed: Green Curry Pale Ale

Moving away from the sweet beers in 2017 and diving head first into an aromatic overload. Think of all the flavours and aromas that come from a green curry and that is exactly what this is. Jasmine rice was thrown into the mash to lighten the body and an easy bitterness from minimal hopping. Then, coriander seed, cumin seeds, garlic, shallots, green chilli, galangal and coriander stems and roots were added to the boil, followed by more green chilli, lemongrass, kaffir lime, basil and coriander leaves were thrown in at flame out to add to the aroma. To finish off the curry, an aromatic tea will be brewed up and injected to boost fresh aromas.

Wheaty Brewing Corps/Hawkers: BAKLAVA BROWN

Jade Flavell retains her collaboration queen crown by teaming up with Mazen Hajjar from Hawkers to create a brown ale with a twist. A boozy, liquid Blaklava brewed with South Australian Orange Blossom and Mallee Honey, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, orange blossom water and pistachio to finish it off. A nutty, spicy brown ale that is sure to satisfy the sweet tooth.


Double Barrel Black is a slightly soured stout of sorts, that has been aged in two different barrel types; port and shiraz. Once the barrel has imparted its wares, the beer was then dry hopped with Ella and another super-secret hop variety. Weighing in a 7 percent, Double Barrel is said to be full of roasty malts and vinous tannins on the palate.

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Barossa Valley: Fortified Imperial Stout

For Barossa Valley’s GABS beer, they decided to collaborate with a few different industries. After wandering Seppeltsfield’s long fortify’s tunnels, Denham D’Silva decided to have a go at fortifying a beer. He worked with Gareth from Steam Exchange, who is now working exclusively on artisanal whiskeys. Gareth provided the grain spirit that was then transferred to the Barossa Gin Company to fortify. The final result is an 18% fortified imperial stout which is a hybrid between beer and whiskey.


At the time of writing, Pirate Life hadn’t returned emails or calls; too busy brewing beer and gallivanting around the world drinking beer. But from what I understand, they are brewing a curdled milk stout with lactose and vanilla beans. Should be interesting.

Robe Town:

Robe Town did not submit a GABS beer this year due to an ingredient they wanted use, was unavailable. However, they are sending a keg of two-year-old aged Solstice Baltic Porter at eight percent over to Melbourne. It will be pouring at the Palace Hotel as a part of Good Beer Week’s Pint of Origin celebrations.

These are the SA beers that have been submitted to GABS for 2017 and it is safe to say, there is crazy stuff being concocted. Who is making the trek to Melbourne, Sydney or Auckland?


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