Waikato beer makers will be well represented at what is considered one of the greatest beer festivals in the world.
GABS, the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, is coming to Auckland in June.
Many beers and ciders are produced specifically for the event and offer an opportunity for brewers to exercise their inner beer geek, mad scientist, or beer historian.
Good George have made a New England IPA, an intense, citrussy East Coast (USA) styled drop with resin and pithy grapefruit notes.
For something slightly more off the wall, they have also produced the Kiwi Sour, a Berliner Weisse of moderate alcohol, but with unmistakeable ripe kiwifruit sweet and sour notes and a healthy dollop of legendary Nelson Sauvin hops, not to mention some 200kg of fresh NZ Kiwifruit.
Bootleg Brewery has also produced a New England IPA (NEIPA) as their festival entrant.
A slant on their award winning Apehanger, the GRRR’Apehanger, a hazy, unfiltered beer with body adding adjuncts such as oats, wheat, toffee malt and lactose.
Fresh grapefruit and grapefruit zest was added to the boil, giving it a huge lift.
Another beer they have produced for GABS is a Belgian Rum Chocolate Stout.
Produced in the Trappist tradition, with a belt of rum for additional winter warming, it is bound to be a hit – especially when served with the clever Nitro delivery system, which gives the beers a really nice creamy mouth-feel.
Prior to GABS, the Lumsden Freehouse in Newmarket is also running their own festival.
Good George, Bootleg and new kids Brewaucracy from Mahana Road in Hamilton have collaborated on a Lumsden brew called 6 Bridges, an Oat Malt Stout first brewed in Hamilton at the original Waikato Brewery in the 1870s.
According to the excellent book, A Crown for the Lady, the unravelling of a pioneer story by C.V. Innes, the owner of the Royal Tavern, Mr W. Cumming, established a brewery next door on the banks of the Waikato River, just below where the Eastside Tavern now sits.
Presumably this was to make use of the excellent water the river provided.
Cumming had a complicated financial history involving multiple bank loans, mortgages and remortgages, which unfortunately resulted in the sale of his brewery, ultimately to the Innes Family, who established Waikato Draught.
By all reports a much more talented brewer than businessman, Cumming’s Oat Malt Stout was made from a recipe from his native Scotland, and it is exciting that such a beer has been produced by three other pioneering Waikato brewers some 150 years later.
Sadly, Cumming’s life came to a premature end in the Coromandel Peninsula, but his work can be celebrated by raising a glass to him.
Other entrants for GABS include the almost clinically insane Skittle-brau from Dainton brewery in Victoria, Australia.
It’s a beer that does actually contain Skittles, Mint Condition Chocolate-Mint Milk Stout, from the Central NSW Coast’s Six String Brewing and Bruny Island Beer Company’s (Tasmania) Centenary Stout, a raspberry export stout made to celebrate both their 100th brew and their inaugural GABS beer.
There will be some 90 beers available that are GABS specific.
Warkworth’s 8 Wired Brewing have come up with Stone Free, inspired by Jimi Hendrix.
It is a kettle sour fermented with apricots and a solid hit of Riwaka hops.
Kereru Brewing from Upper Hutt have gone ancient Egyptian with their Holy Cow, Strong Red Egyptian Ale.
It’s an interesting melding of classic red beer flavours and exotic date and pomegranate.
Another to enter a red beer are Chaotic Hop Brewing from Auckland, with their DRIPA Double Red IPA, unfiltered and unpasteurised, it is a powerful, muscular red.
The festival also offers excellent street food, entertainment, and even a silent disco.
GABS will be held at the Auckland Showgrounds, June 30 2018
First Published in the Waikato Times June 2018