Top 16 Beers I Sampled at #GABS2016 Auckland

19 June 2016 - Best Beer HQ

The 16 Beers I Sampled at #GABS2016 Auckland

So it’s the day after the inaugural GABS Beer, Cider & Food Fest in Auckland and, well, let’s just say I probably need to dry out for a couple of days after I packed about as much beer tasting into one four-hour session as I possibly could.

That’s right. From about 1-5pm I managed to sample 16 different craft beers from breweries in New Zealand, Australia, the United States of America, and the Unite Kingdom. I’ll write about the festival itself in another blog post – for now I’d better write about the beers I tasted while I still vaguely remember some of them.

The beers I sampled at GABS 2016 in Auckland were:

1. Bacchus Brewing Co. Peanut Brittle Gose

As a proud New Zealander it kills me a little to admit that this beer by Aussie brewery Bacchus might have been one of the best at Auckland GABS 2016. I’ve scribbled next to its description in the festival flyer ‘A+’ so you know it must be good. It nailed the balance between sour and sweet, toffee-caramel and peanut.

Style: Gose
ABV: 4.8%

2. Bach Brewing Tailfin APA

I’ve tried most of this Auckland brewery’s wares at this point, but I’d never had its APA. So I ordered a glass of the stuff, which head brewer Craig Cooper filled to the brim for me. It wasn’t a bad beer at all – though I’m struggling a bit to remember it today (which I’m afraid will be the case with most APAs/IPAs that I had at GABS 2016 unless there was something really distinct about them).

Style: APA
ABV: 6.5%

3. Baylands 550 APA

I’d never heard of this Petone-based brewery before, to be perfectly honest with you, so I figured I had to try at least one of its beers. I remember the 550 APA as being a rather tropical, hoppy concoction that was a welcome relief immediately after one of the lesser sour beers on this list (see below).

Style: APA
ABV: 5.5%

4. Behemoth Brewing Company Golden Pineapple Head IPA

I’ve merely written “loved” next to the description of this beer in the GABS 2016 festival flyer, so I’m guessing it must have been a goody. Extremely tropical.

Style: APA
ABV: 6.6%

5. Brew Dog Albino Squid Assassin

It was fairly pricey for an 85ml taster of this Scottish brewery’s Albino Squid Assassin red-rye IPA, which I chose to sample purely because of its kick-ass name. I remember it being rather good (though I took no notes, which was clever of me).

Style: Red-rye IPA
ABV: 7.4%

6. Brewcult Gingerbread Maniac

Another weird and wonderful beer at GABS 2016 by an Australian brewery – this time a smoothly sweet stout with a gingernut biscuit hit. I liked this festival beer a lot.

Style: Sweet stout
ABV: 8%

7. Croucher Brewing Co. Black Forest Sour

A lot of the talk around GABS 2016 Auckland seemed to be about sour beers and how difficult they are to get right. I sampled a range of them and, well, this one from Croucher was NOT one of my favourites. In fact, I said to my mate Matt, who was sampling beers with me, that drinking this black forest sour was rather like drinking a glass of red wine that had gone vinegary and bad. I was not a fan.

Style: Soured fruit beer
ABV: 7.5%

Top 16 Beers I Sampled at #GABS2016 Auckland

My happy place

8. Eagle Brewing Jawa Juice

I’m a big Star Wars fan so I had to get an 85ml sample of this bitter number by Christchurch brewery Eagle Brewing. Conversely, my buddy Matt (also a Star Wars fan) didn’t like the name of it; “it sounds like you’re sucking off a Jawa,” he said.

Style: “Intergalactic” Brown Ale
ABV: 6.2%

9. Emerson’s Mexican Chocolate Porter

I liked Mexican food, so I naturally gravitated towards this one from Emerson’s. As I’ve noted, this rather full-bodied, spicy and chocolatey porter “warmed my cockles”. Whatever that means.

Style: Porter
ABV: 8%

10. Lakeman DBIPA

Lakeman is another Kiwi craft brewery that I’d never heard of before. I opted for an 85ml serve of the Taupo-based brewery’s double black IPA, which I really enjoyed.

Style: Black IPA
ABV: 9%

11. Mata Caribbean Queen

The beer that tasted like a Bounty chocolate bar was another one of my highlights of GABS 2016. To be fair, though, I’m a huge fan of coconut and this rich chocolate beer totally delivered on that front. It just got better as my glass warmed up, too. I’d definitely buy a bottle of Caribbean Queen if I ever saw it in my local supermarket. Who knows? Maybe Mrs Best Beer HQ would even like it, and she doesn’t “do” beer.

Style: Porter
ABV: 5.5%

12. Mismatch Brewing Company Negroni IPA

When you’re sampling so many beers in such a short period of time, it’s tough to keep track of which one was which. Unfortunately, this beer is another one of those very samey, very forgettable IPAs that I enjoyed at GABS 2016 but I can’t tell you anything about now – except this one had a bit of orange peel in it and kind of tasted like the beer you chase down a shot of Sambuca with.

Style: IPA
ABV: 7%

13. Mornington Peninsula Brewery Princess Peach (India Peach Saison)

I visited the Mornington Peninsula Brewery on a recent trip to Melbourne and loved it, so I had to try its festival beer – an IPA/Saison hybrid. I really enjoyed this beer, which is both hoppy and peachy, though my buddy Matt seemed less enthused.

Style: Saison/IPA
ABV: 6.2%

14. Mount Brewing Co. Chocolate Orange Stout

At first this beer didn’t taste half as much like choc-orange as I would have liked, and then it started to grow on me. The cumulative effect was like drinking dark-chocolate Jaffas.

Style: Sweet stout
ABV: 5.5%

15. Sixpoint Brewery GaLacto

For the life of me I can’t remember what American brewery Sixpoint’s take on the classic Belgian farmhouse beer tasted like. I remember enjoying it, so that’s got to count for something, right? Next year I must take better notes.

Style:  Saison/Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 5.3%

16. Yeastie Boys Hellzapoppin’

Now this is a memorable beer – if only because it reminded me of hickory-smoked chicken wings that have been left in the oven too long and haven’t burnt on top. This beer, which features Manuka-smoked malt and fire dragon chillies, was smokier than a forest fire.

Style: Smoked beer (non Raunchbier)
ABV: 6.5%

Stay tuned for more from Auckland’s inaugural GABS 2016 on this blog later in the week.

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