"Holy crap, that's mingin!" was our unanimous judgement of an unknown festival beer. It could've been Brewdog's B-Side Sour Red Ale, or perhaps Brewcult's Gingerbread Maniac on the neighbouring tap (hey it was late in the night and we'd had a few). The catsick aroma assaulted the back passages of your nostrils, forewarning of the unwelcome taste sensation to follow if you were silly enough to then take a swig. "More Challenging" was the tasting guide's mild description of the offending ale's flavour profile. Clearly the ranking system needs some attention and at least one extra level. Perhaps something like "WTF - This Is Ridiculous!".
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Sydney leg of GABS 2016, the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular. What a cracking event! 120 specialty beers brewed just for the festival, plus god knows how many brews from the "regular" ranges of the many participating craft breweries. Not that "regular" is really an adequate descriptor for what some of these lunatics are brewing...anyone for taco beer?
Clearly with so many beers on offer and only a 5 hour session to enjoy them, we needed a game plan. Tasting paddles made the task somewhat easier, but even with 5 beers per paddle and sharing each paddle between two of us, we only sampled a small(ish) part of the range on offer.
Which was probably just as well when that range included the likes of Pirate Life Brewing's 14% ABV double IPA Loose Lips Sink Ships, remarkably well balanced and dangerously easy drinking. Despite the name, Townshend Brewery's Bazils Brain Basher was also hugely drinkable and reminiscent of my UK favourite, Fuller's ESB.
With hindsight, we went too early on Shenanigan's Brewing's Sabotage chilli, chocolate and coffee stout. Deliciously good, but very long on the chillis and a complete tastebud-toaster. Yeastie Boys' Hellzapoppin' smoke beer also featured chillis, with the bizarre result of a beer that tasted just like drinking bacon. Perfect for Sunday brekkie. By contrast, Batch Brewing Co's Marrickville Pork Roll didn't taste much like pig at all, despite being made with pork broth and yes, more chillis.
Quiet Deed's Happy Ending Pilsner (I didn't ask what was in it) was a nice crisp palate cleanser, before Red Duck's Rundy Bum winter ale smashed me over the head at the next tap along. I think the colocation of these two breweries' entries was just alphabetical, but perhaps they were developing some kind of theme.
I would love to provide a more exhaustive review of the many, many more beers sampled. But I soon developed quite a lean so really can't recall. Just one session at this sprawling extravaganza of extreme brewing really isn't enough...but two might just kill you.
Congratulations GABS 2016, can't wait to see you even bigger & better in 2017. Just think about that ranking system...
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