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GABS organisers still hold hope for Perth event

Australia’s premier beer festival is coming to Perth – just not yet.

As much as Great Australasian Beer Spectapular co-owner Steve Jeffares wants to bring his outstanding event to the west coast, an old problem with the WA city means the Sandgropers will have to be a bit more patient in their wait for a taste of brew-lovers heaven.

Jeffares and GABS event director Craig Williams were in Perth last weekend on a reconnaissance mission to find a suitable venue for the extravaganza which has become a major drawcard for beer aficionados in Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland.

However, as many other event promoters have discovered, the isolated metropolis lacks a suitable venue to stage such a unique festival.

So Brisbane has won the race to join the other three cities that have already relished the occasion. Queenslanders will get to enjoy two five-hour GABS sessions on April 27, 2019.

The “mothership” event will occur at the historic Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building between May 17-19 and, as usual, will be one of the highlights of the Good Beer Week.

GABS will then move to New South Wales for a one-day offering at the Sydney Showground on June before wrapping at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds on June 29.

While the Perth Convention and Entertainment Centre has the room for such an indoor festival it is just a big barn that holds little appeal and would struggle to create the atmosphere synonymous with the Spectapular.

And the Claremont Showground doesn’t have a facility big enough to ensure all the container bars and stalls would operate under one roof.

But Jeffares told The Sip that Perth was still on the GABS agenda and he and business partner Guy Greenstone would continue to seek an opportunity in WA. And it might take a slight change to normal programming to give the city with its chance.

“Craig and I went from Brisbane to Perth last Friday and we would love to have the west in the mix,” Jeffares said. “But we’re not confident that we have a building that is not only big enough but is suitable enough.

“We’re confident in our ability to dress a space to create that GABS atmosphere and Auckland was proof of that pudding.

“It is possible, and we have certainly mooted for a while, to have a summer version of GABS. That has been on and off the agenda for two or three years. I would say if we do get to Perth it would be one of those summer extension events we door outdoors.

“We are interested enough to make the trip and look at what was available, and we were quite willing to introduce Perth, but it has to feel right. We need the building to create the unique GABS experience.

“So we thought let’s add Brisbane this year and it gives us a bit more time to explore opportunities in Perth. We can’t wait to get over there.”

A strong crew of West Aussies have headed to GABS Melbourne since the festival started in 2011.

While the 160-plus unique beers and ciders on offer at the event are undoubtedly a drawcard, GABS has become more than just a brewing feature.

The atmosphere created through the food offerings, entertainment, panel discussions, stalls, games and camaraderie among Australia’s leading breweries has made the festival a mature byt fun extravaganza.

GABS’ solid record as a respectable festival meant organisers didn’t have to work too hard to persuade the management of the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre right on the bank of the Brisbane River to agree to be an event host.

WA breweries that want to participate in any or all of the GABS events across Australasia can lodge their entries on Monday November 12. But be quick as available spots disappear faster than a middy on a hot day.


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