Wine tasting, with all its swirling, sniffing and spitting, is usually considered to be classy boozing. But some discerning drinkers believe that actually, beer is the more cultured drop. “Beer is intrinsically linked with human history,” explains Guy Greenstone. “We’ve been drinking beer for more than a thousand years.”
In honour of this ancient ale – and some of its more contemporary iterations – Greenstone and his partner Steve Jeffares founded the Great Australian Beer Spectapular. Held every year in Carlton’s august Royal Exhibition Hall, the event sees more than a hundred producers create a brew especially for the event.
The festival began in 2012 on a much smaller scale at the Local Taphouse, Greenstone and Jeffares’ craft-beer bar in St Kilda. The pair asked their favourite brewers to put together something unusual just for the true believers. Though they were unsure as to how the event would be received, the boys were reassured when punters waited for hours just to sample a pint. “We were just really lucky the idea resonated with people,” says Jeffares.
This year, beer lovers are expected in their thousands to try one-off brews from cult craft brewers including Moon Dog, Two Birds Brewing, Feral Brewing, Brew Cult, Kooinda Boutique Brewery, Young Henry’s Brewery, Japan’s crazy Hitachino Nest Beer and New Zealand’s outrageously tasty ParrotDog.
Greenstone acknowledges there are some pretty ballsy beers on offer, but promises everything is drinkable. “The skill of the brewer is to think outside of the box, but to brew a beer that you can enjoy, that’s got balance, that’s got flavour,” he says. “There’s no point putting something out there that’s so crazy you can’t drink it.”