After the very positive response I received to last years GABS Preview I thought we should try and roll it out again this year. Hopefully it'll help some of you who are undecided find something that will suit you.
The idea this year is to pick 6 beers from each of the 6 "sections". This should hopefully account for any late scratchings and still be able to construct a paddle of 5 beers from each section. I'll try and explain my reasons behind selecting each beer, whether it be a style I love or something that sounds so insane I have to try it!
We'll kick this off with Section 1. For me two beers were clear standouts - Bacchus' Atomic Lemon, Lime & Bitters and newcomers Akasha's Fire Within. The sours I've had from Bacchus have all been excellent and who could resist a former Riverside brewers Imperial Amber Ale (444 anyone?). 4 Pines have been impressing me of late, so I'm going to stump for their Brown Ale; Snickers. I'm expecting Bentspoke's Black 'n Sour to be exactly that, whilst 7 Cent's Beer Is So Over sounds like a hipsters paradise and something worth trying. The last spot was a toss up between 6 or 7 beers - but in the end I couldn't go past the AIBA winners from last year (CUB, Thunder Road and 3 Ravens) Girt by Three. I mean who doesn't want to try a 10% Pale Ale brewed by CUB!?! This section is packed with quality options, you can't go wrong here!
Every year when I pickup my GABS Guide, I flick through to find the Doctor's Orders beer. This year it falls in Section 2 and is an immediate selection of mine. Knowing the Doc, it'll be particularly sour and really refresh your palette. Boatrocker's "I Ain't Afraid No Gose" is another must for me (Gose is such an underrated style), whilst it would be hard to pass up Hendo's (Brewcult) Milk and Two Sugars Milk Stout. Schwarzbier's are a favourite of mine so Bright Brewery's Lord Helmet Schwartz will get a run. Byron Bay's Hefen and Hell has a great name and great style idea (Black Hefeweizen) ans finally Western Australia's Cheeky Monkey Brewery Devil Dancer, with it's 6.66% ABV and it's rye based "black red IPA" brewed with Belgian Abbey yeast, gets my final spot in Section 2.
Section 3 is again packed with quality options; two of which weren't certainties for me. The first being Queensland's Green Beacon Brewing Co.'s Cherry Oak Stout, I've heard nothing but good things about these guys (and incidently, or is that coincidently..., their cans have just landed in Melbourne...). Velvet from Homestead Brewery was the other, Cherry Ripe at 9.8% sounds too good to resist! It wouldn't be GABS if I didn't have the HopDog BeerWorks beer, so Taxidermied Pachyderm will get a run, while I'm a sucker for an odd beer style so the Altbier (Mumme) from Indian Ocean will be on my paddle. The last two spots I found impossible to split; pick from offerings from Ekim, Exit, Feral, Fortitude, Funk Estate or Garage Project. None of these brewers will lead you down the wrong path - leave it to what you feel like on the day!
For me, Section 4 was the hardest to pick and subsequently we are ending up with 7 beers in this section. There's so many unmissable brewers in Section 4! Kaiju's 10% Amber Ale, Betelgeuse is a must, as is last year's People's Choice Winner La Sirene Brewing and their Bebe Rouge - a fruity Belgian Red Ale. Moon Dog, Mornington and Mountain Goat are all locks for me almost every year. I'm particularly looking forward to the Russian Imperial Stout from Mountain Goat. For the last two beers I thought I best jump over the ditch to New Zealand for a couple of sour beers. First up is the Moa Feijoa Sour, with how much I enjoyed the 8 Wired Feijoa Sour I thought it was a must try, while Mike's Organic Brewery's offering, an Imperial Porter aged in Pinot Noir barrels with plums and Brettanomyces all added.
I had very few selection dilemmas in Section 5. With the hype surrounding new SA brewery Pirate Life at the moment, there was no way I was missing their Barbe Noire (a Belgian Black Double IPA). Another relatively newcomer on the scene, Nomad, have won me over with their "super hoppy dark IPA' called Massive Foo Fighter. Riverside is always sought after down in Melbourne and their Hefeweizen (Hop Hefner) is a must for me. Two of our buddies from across the ditch are getting a run, ParrotDog's Puffinus Huttoni and Panhead's Bourbon Old Fashion Cocktail Beer. Last but certainly not least is Brutus from Murray's, a 16% monster! It just wouldn't be GABS if I wasn't to try the offering from Murray's....
Three beers from Victorian breweries headline my Section 6. I can't turn down a Dunkelweizen, so Southern Bay's Wolfgang Chang is my first picked. Very rarely are their Pale Lagers at GABS so I'm going to try the Inception from Stomping Ground Brewing - more known for being the guys behind The Local Taphouse - and finally for something a bit different the Two Birds Pina Colada should refresh the palate somewhat. Vale's Pie Cart should be an interesting beer, split green pea and ham Porter..., whilst Yeastie Boys Not Kettle Black is one of those happy brewing mistakes which sometimes turn to gold! Finally I'm looking forward to Van Dieman Brewing's One Night in a Black Tent. I've never had a beer from these Tassie brewers and think it's time to change that.
So there we have it guys, a little insight into what I'm going to be drinking at GABS and how I pick different beers. Hopefully it helps everyone fill that last spot on their paddle. Let me know which beer/beers you're most looking forward to at this years GABS. I'll be there Friday arvo and then may be around later in the weekend, hit me up on Twitter and be sure to come have a beer with me if our sessions cross paths. Enjoy Good Beer Week everybody, it's going to be huge!
Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!