The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Top 10 unusual and exciting beers to try at GABS 2017

There is nothing like the GABS Beer, Cider & Food Fest in the world – – with its combination of the largest number of craft breweries and cider makers in Australasia; curated, high quality food providers and entertainment unlike any other festival, ensuring an atmosphere that keeps people coming back year after year.

But the most unique aspect of GABS is their array of one-off festival beers and ciders created by Australasia’s craft breweries and cider makers only for GABS. This year sees more beers and ciders than ever before, with 170 ‘Festival Beers & Ciders’, offering something for everyone’s palate from the utterly weird to thoroughly wonderful.

The entries this year have been more varied and exciting than ever, so it is difficult to pick a top 10, but here are GABS co-founders Steve Jeffares and Guy Greenstone’s top picks for this year:

Brothers – The Smoking Jacket:

Brewer’s Note: Brew 1000 – Smooth, sultry and a little bit intoxicating. Steeped in hand cut Cuban tobacco, infused with cognac and aged on oak. This velvet stout is low on roast character and silky on the palate. Ingredients: Cuban tobacco, cognac, oak. Brewing process: Aged on tobacco and oak.

Pines – Hidden in Plain Sight:

Brewer’s Note: Combining all the dark arts of brewing history, this beer is the “anticraft”. We made a beer so pale that it glows in the moonlight. Triple filtered including a carbon filtration step to ensure it is as clear as melted snow. We have thrown everything in the book at this one. Tetrahop, PGA, isinglass finings, hop oil and distilled roast essence for a perfectly clear beer that remains hoppy and tastes like a stout. Your senses will be turned upside down with crystal clear ‘black magic.’ Ingredients: Tetrahop, hop oil, isinglass finings, distilled roast essence. Brewing process: We’re going to triple filter, including a carbon filtration step to ensure the beers colour suggests its flavour to be very different to how it looks, to add a truly unique sensation to the experience of drinking this beer.

Aether – Bone & Marrow:

Brewer’s Note: A double Irish red with double smoked bone marrow for double the enjoyment.  Big, malt laden with dried fruit characters leading the way for a luscious, velvet mouth feel fading into a savoury, smoky finish. Big. Rich. Decadent. Ingredients: Um… Yeah so we have gone with double smoked bone marrow to work with one of our favourite Double Irish Red recipes we have been saving for a special occasion such as this one (our first ever GABS). We wanted to stretch our legs and push the food and beer pairing beyond the limits. Some might call it crazy. Not us though. Brewing process:  The use of the (in house) double smoked bone marrow throughout Lauter and also in the boil. We used a mixture of bone marrow removed from the bones and also whole marrow bones to ensure we get all the great flavour and texture of bone marrow without any of the off flavours that come with pushing bones in liquid above 80 degrees.

Merchant Brewing Company – Fruit Tingle:

Brewer’s Note: The Fruit Tingle: the cocktail we love to hate and blamed all those messy nights on has been recreated as a beer.  Purple in colour from a special tea blend; the tart, boozy beer is overloaded with fruit to create tasty flavours of citrus and raspberry, complimented with a fruity dry hop and a small amount of lactose to give hints of sweetness. A dry hopped, flower and fruit infused, lactose, kettle sour. Ingredients:  Special tea blend, dried butterfly pea flowers, raspberries, orange, mandarin, lemon zest and lactose. Brewing process:  Kettle sour with lactobacillus.  Tea blend and fruit added to fermentation. Lactose was added post souring process, to help add some sweetness to final product. Referring to an actual fruit tingle cocktail- there are elements of tartness (from fruit) and sweetness (from sugar present from blue curacao & lemonade).

Mountain Goat – Quetzalacatenango:

Brewer’s Note:  Our brewer Kenny lived in Central America and spent time deep in the jungle in a Guatemalan insane asylum cultivating “the merciless peppers of Quetzalacatenango”. It’s also where he got his inspiration for our 2017 GABS Festival Beer.  American ale and wheat malts provide just enough body to support an intense hop bill full of tropical fruit and citrus character, with the special blend of chillies making their presence known throughout.  This beer is possibly the hottest in the world, and is a nod to Kenny’s time dancing with the space coyote. Ingredients:  Queensland grown Carolina Reaper and Ghost Chilies. Brewing Process:  Extra protection worn when handling chilli paste.

Pact Beer – Who poured the porter in the cookie jar?

Brewer’s Note: This year Pact has teamed up with Melbourne’s Butterbing Cookie Sandwiches to make the ultimate salted caramel porter. Using kilos of actual Butterbings in the boil, we’ve crafted a fantastic liquid dessert that’s good enough to drink! Receive a free Butterbing cookie sandwich with your full glass of beer at selected sessions! Ingredients:  We’ve teamed up with our pals at Melbourne’s Buttering Cookie Sandwiches to put the ever popular salted caramel flavoured butterbings into a classic chocolate porter. Brewing process: All the experts say not to put dairy into your beer. Crushed up cookies? No way. They’re probably right, but this is GABS, and we’re Pact.

Tallboy & Moose – Irish Coffee Carbomb:

Brewer’s Note:  What to do with whisky barrel aged coffee?!? Make beer with it! We’ve taken porous green coffee beans, aged them gently in a Starward whisky barrel, roasted them at Red Bean Coffee Roasters around the corner from our Preston brewery, and blended the resulting coffee into an Irish red ale. The finished product is a complex blend of three friendly beverages that belong together! Ingredients:  The key ingredient here is whisky barrel aged coffee. A unique product based on a very unique and unusual process of aging green (unroasted) coffee beans in a whisky barrel prior to roasting them. Roasting those beans to the right level, complimenting the barrel character, and then deciding the correct brewing methods and rations for a coffee that gets blended into the beer.

Choice Bros – Purple Rain.

Brewer’s Note:  Hoppy Purple Ale using Butterfly Pea Flowers, Citra, Wakatu and Eureka Hop Oil. Ingredients:  Clitoria Ternatea flowers, also known as Butterfly Pea Tea. These have been steeped at the end of the boil to extract the vibrant purple color that the beer takes on. The color changes depending on the acidity.

Garage Project – Bangh Thandi.

Brewer’s Note: Rich, smooth, spiced strong milk stout inspired by the Holi beverage, Bhang Thandi. Brewed with almonds, fennel, Magaz Tari seeds, rose petal, pepper, cardamom, saffron, lactose and organic hemp oil. Ingredients: Yes indeed we are. All of these ingredients are ‘interesting’. This beer is brewed with almonds, fennel, Magaz Tari seeds, rose petal, pepper, cardamon, saffron, lactose and organic hemp oil grown in the Hawkes Bay of New Zealand. Brewing process: We’ll be adding Hemp Seed oil to the mash. The beer will be brewed with Lactose for the milky sweetness and infused with Almonds, Spices and Saffron. The beer will be nitrogenated to give it an extra creamy mouth feel.

Piha Beer – Kina Stout.

Brewer’s Note:  Piha embodies the wild, West Coast of New Zealand and we wanted to bring some of that wild coastline into our beer. To that end we grabbed some traditional kiwi kai, the New Zealand Sea Urchin to throw in our Kina Stout. With a unique silky, salty punch, our Kina Stout is packed with flavour and history. Ingredients: We are using Kina, the New Zealand Sea Urchin, sourced from our spiritual home at Piha on Auckland’s West Coast where our test brewery is located. Kina is a traditional Maori food and has been eaten here since Pre-European times. Tasting of the sea, with a creamy texture, we’re bringing the seafood stout home.

This year sees more innovative and tasty festival beers and ciders than ever before, find the full list here.