By Annette Shailer, editor Beer & Brewer
The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, better known as GABS, is heading to New Zealand for the first time, with the organisers hoping to get 30,000 attendees across Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland in 2016.
GABS will be held in Melbourne 20-22 May, Sydney will have an extra day next year with the harbour city hosting the festival 27-28 May and the inaugural Auckland event taking place on held 18 June at the ASB Showgrounds.
“The reason we used ‘Australasian’ in our name in the first place is because we always wanted to have a strong Kiwi contingent at the festival,” GABS co-founder Guy Greenstone told Beer & Brewer.
“And after many trips to Beervana and NZ brewers also making their way over to GABS we’ve developed some great relationships and it just feels like the right next step. Auckland is an awesome city and we believe it’s really thirsty for a premium celebration of Kiwi and other craft beer.
“We’re excited to be a part of a group of excellent beer festivals that include the Great Kiwi Beer Festival in Christchurch, Beervana in Wellington and now us in Auckland.”
GABS features hundreds of beers including 120 exclusive ‘Festival Beers’ brewed specifically for the event, brewery stands, food vendors, beer and food experiences, educational seminars, fun activities and entertainment.
“As always there’ll be some new surprise elements,” Greenstone said of what to expect from GABS in 2016.
“There’ll be more delicious food, over 120 Festival Beers across the three cities (including a whole bunch that will only be in NZ) plus dozens of brewery and industry stands where people get to meet the real people behind their great beers and ciders. More and new amazing entertainment which we’re ramping up a little plus cooking demonstrations, educational ‘Q&Ales’ panel discussions and just a whole heap of fun.”
GABS Melbourne will again be held at the Royal Exhibition Building and GABS Sydney at the Australian Technology Park.
“Last year GABS in Sydney was a huge success and exceeded our expectations. We sold out of one session and all but sold out of the second. So it was a logical step to add another session,” Greenstone said.
“A lot of our attendees in Sydney also asked us to add more sessions because it’s simply not possible to taste all of the ‘Festival Beers’ in just two sessions.”
What began with a beer between friends and the founders of The Local Taphouse beer venues in Melbourne and Sydney has, in just four years, turned into one of the top 20 beer festivals in the world, according to American magazine, Beer Connoisseur, and has now expanded overseas with numbers expected to top 30,000.
“It’s hard to know exactly in Auckland but we’re hoping we might get around 5,000. With the extra session in Sydney this year we’re hoping to get around 9,000 and Melbourne should see over 16,000 again. We should get over 30,000 attendees across the three cities all up,” Greenstone said.