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Sale of GABS to bring a focus on Stomping Ground

The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS) and The Hottest 100 have been acquired by media and marketing entrepreneur Mike Bray and 5th Avenue Investment Group.

Bray has been appointed as managing director of SpecTAPular Enterprises, with Craig Williams, who has led the business since 2017, remains as event director.

GABS was launched in 2011 at The Local Taphouse bars in Melbourne and Sydney by founders Steve Jeffares and Guy Greenstone.

And Jeffares told Beer & Brewer, that while it was an emotional day when the deal was confirmed, he was excited about what Bray and the time will bring to GABS, and about his future work with Stomping Ground.

“It’s an exciting but emotional day, but the event is truly in good hands. We’ve got Craig sticking around and he’s been the rock for the last few years.

“We’ve got to know Mike over the last six months and he convinced us that he was going to have the best interests of the event at heart. We are really excited to see what he can do, because that was one of the motivating factors to this transaction.

“With Stomping Ground demanding so much of our time, I’d been finding it difficult to explore the opportunities that we had in mind for GABS. In particular in exploring other events in Australia and taking the concept overseas. There’s an appetite for that now, so with Mike’s resources, time and direction, we are super excited to see where it can go.”

He added: “We will remain involved as consultants and continue to be very much connected to the event that we have poured our heart and soul into. This opportunity will now allow us to better focus on the growing demands of our burgeoning Stomping Ground brewery in Melbourne.

“That’s kind of what was at the heart of it is that it’s in my DNA to want to be very closely involved with all the projects that we’re working on and, and it was becoming increasingly hard to chase down the ambitions we had for for for GABS.

“Especially while also focusing on what is becoming a brewery that’s certainly exceeding our growth targets. So we will be fully and singularly devoted to doing Stomping Ground now and touching in with with GABS as and when required, but certainly obviously a lot less than what we’ve had to do in the past.

“So it’s all it’s all about Stomping Ground now and that’s really exciting. We’ve got a lot of exciting things planned.”

Reflecting on the growth of GABS, Jeffares said: “Over the last decade, we’ve worked hard with a fantastic team to create a truly unique and innovative festival experience, showcasing the creativity of breweries with more than a thousand ‘Festival Beers & Ciders’ launched for the first time at GABS. In that time, more than 210,000 people, many new to craft beer, have attended our events in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland.

“We’re thrilled to now pass the baton to Mike and his team, ably led by long time event director Craig Williams, and look forward to seeing them taking GABS to even greater heights.

“Guy and I have long held aspirations of taking the GABS experience to even more destinations and audiences. With Mike sharing those ambitions, our incredible team is better placed than ever before to really explore that potential.”

New owner Bray said it was an honour to join the team as GABS prepares to celebrate its tenth anniversary in Melbourne.

“We are extremely excited to continue Steve and Guy’s original vision to become one of the best beer festivals in the world,” he said.

“For us, GABS is about sharing our love of craft beer and cider with as many people as possible. It’s also about shining a light on this incredibly diverse industry, celebrating brewers, educating consumers and bringing them into the world of craft beer and cider.”

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