One of Australia’s largest beer festivals is expanding again, with the team behind GABS announcing the festival will come to Brisbane for the first time in 2019. On April 27, two sessions will be held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on Brisbane’s South Bank, making GABS Brisbane the first of the year.
For Guy Greenstone, who started the festival at St Kilda’s Local Taphouse in 2011 with Steve Jeffares, GABS’ incursion into the Sunshine State has been a long time in the making.
“It’s the realisation of a long-held desire,” Guy says. “We love some of the beers coming out of [Brisbane] and, in a way, it’s one of the more exciting parts of Australia for beer.”
Guy says running The Local Taphouse, which celebrated its tenth anniversary this year, as well as Stomping Ground and GABS, like many in the beer world, he and Steve had been watching the growth of the local beer scene in Brisbane with excitement.
“We just knew it was a market that was really going to get on board and you could just see the explosion that has happened – off a pretty low base – over the last couple of years,” he says.
“Consumers are just right into it and are really up for good beer and there’s so many fantastic breweries that are opening up in South East Queensland.”
Guy says despite wanting to get the festival for the Sunshine State for a few years, finding the right location, one that would suit an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 attendees as well as the unique festival's many attractions, was a challenge.
“Because we want to bring the full GABS experience, we were trying to find the kind of place that could accommodate the right size of people and all the right infrastructure – that’s a challenge.”
For GABS Brisbane, many elements that make the festival what it is will carry over: the festival beers, the panel discussions and the Ale Capones will all be there. But, with so many local breweries, priority will be give to Queensland breweries to become stallholders to allow region's beer scene to be front and centre.
“You never want it to be a festival that’s imposed on a market; one of the really beautiful things about the craft beer industry is how it’s in a lot of ways a grassroots movement,” Guy says.
“Year after year, we get a really good contingent of people who are new to beer or have a passing interest in beer who make it to the festival. There’s a lot of people who live in Brisbane who wouldn’t travel to the other states and this is an opportunity to bring them into the fold.”
As for the other festivals next year, there will be a few other changes too. GABS Sydney will take up more floor space at Olympic Park while the original GABS at Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building will also have an outdoor food park. And, while other international GABS besides Auckland might one day be a reality, for now, it's other parts of Australia that are calling.
“Brisbane was always at the top of the list and then very, very closely followed by Perth,” Guy says.
GABS 2019 locations and dates
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, South Bank.
April 27, 2019.
Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton.
May 17 – 19, 2019.
Sydney Showground, Olympic Park.
June 1, 2019.
ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane.
June 29, 2019.