By Andy Young, The Shout
The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, GABS, is expanding its calendar in 2019 with the popular craft beer festival heading to Brisbane.
Speaking to TheShout about the move, GABS co-founder Steve Jeffares said that having had an eye on expanding into Queensland for a number of years the time, and the venue, was finally right to take the plunge in 2019.
“Brisbane has been on the cards for about three years now after Guy and I went up there and had a look around. GABS has to happen around the time of GABS Melbourne, because of the unique festival beers and ciders that are made just for the event.
“So at that time of year we didn’t feel brave enough to have an outdoor event; and when you need as much space as we do for an event like GABS there’s usually only one or two buildings in a city that are big enough for it.”
Jeffares said that although the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in South Bank initially were not enthusiastic about hosting the event, once the venue understood the reputation of GABS they were much keener to be a part of it this year.
“I was up in Brisbane a few weeks ago looking at the site again and as I standard my standard speech on how GABS is a premium event, the person there stopped me and said ‘you don’t need to convince me, I’ve got 50 people in this office who really want to have GABS here’.
“They really want us now and that was the turning point, so we are really thrilled to have Brisbane added to the roster.”
Billed as a celebration of craft beer creativity and diversity, the centrepiece of the event are the 160+ ‘Festival Beers & Ciders’ made especially for GABS each year by Australia and New Zealand’s leading brewers and cidermakers, of which approximately 100 will be served at the new Brisbane event.
Jeffares also said that the high quality of beers coming out of Queensland and northern NSW at the moment was an influence on the decision to expand to Brisbane.
“That was the tipping point,” he told TheShout, “this wave of new breweries starting in Brisbane started about three or four years ago with Green Beacon and Newstead in particular, but the last year to 18 months has seen a big increase and there is more to come.”
The festival will also aim to make sure the local breweries are well represented, Jeffares added: “It is really important for us with any GABS, that while we want to showcase the best of Australia and New Zealand at each event, we absolutely want each GABS in each city to showcase the best of that region. And we feel now there are plenty of great breweries in Queensland and also northern NSW that we would really love to showcase and really celebrate what’s happening locally.
“This time, for the first time, we are trialling for the trade an opportunity for Queensland brewers to register for stands first. So they will get an hour head start and we do that to provide that opportunity for local brewers to participate in the event.”
The inaugural Queensland event will be held over two five-hour sessions at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, at South Bank, on Saturday 27 April 2019 and Jeffares anticipates between 6,000 and 7,000 attendees in the event’s first year.
In addition to launching in Brisbane, the other Australian events will also be expanding in 2019, with the introduction of a new outdoor food truck park in Melbourne, and a 25 per cent increase in floor space at the Sydney festival, which will make that event the biggest one-day GABS festival ever staged.
Exhibitor registrations for all GABS Beer, Cider & Food Fest events will open on Monday 12 November at 12.00pm AEDT / 11.00am AEST, with all available stands expected to book out very quickly.
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, South Bank
Saturday 27 April 2019
Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton
Fri 17 – Sun 19 May 2019
Sydney Showground, Olympic Park
Sat 1 June 2019
ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane
Sat 29 June 2019