Another year, another stinging hangover from the best beer festival in the country. I\u2019m referring of course to GABS (or The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, for those of you not fond of brevity), the grand affair that pulls in breweries from Australia, NZ and beyond. Over 170 exhibitors joined forces beneath The Dome at Sydney Showground on Saturday to pool resources and show off their brews, including everything from the refined and elegant to the plain whacky, as well as over 180 specialty \u2018festival brews\u2019 made just for GABS.\r\nCheck out our Brews & Bottles Series.\r\nThe festival features live music, performance, a huge selection of food (including one of our favourites, short rib sandwiches from Bovine & Swine, if you've not tried one yet sort yourself out) - all designed to soak up the booze and get you back in the game. For some unbeknownst reason, there's also a giant ferris wheel.\r\n\r\nWe tasted mead that came in at 15%, whisky and beer in the same tin cup, many a cider, IPA and stout and a few other things we're a bit sketchy on the details of... We made it our mission to try everything, but given the physical impossibility of such a goal, just tried most of it, and had a chat with five of our favourites from the day about why they love GABS, what they were offering and what makes their beer special.\r\n\r\n\r\nBalter - XPA\r\nNot a festival brew, just one of the many tasty\u00a0stablemates from the fledgling Queensland brewery, which is co-owned by surf legend Mick Fanning. This beer is one of our absolute favourites - light, refreshing and floral, but with\u00a0enough pazazz to keep your tastebuds interested.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe come to GABS because it\u2019s full of people who simply love beer. We're not about making beer that just caters for beer snobs or beer nerds, even though they enjoy the beer, good beer is for everybody and that\u2019s why GABS is important for a brewery like Balter. Here we can get to be on the front line and just pour beer for good folks and hopefully put a grin on their head.\u201d Says Balter co-founder and head of branding and marketing Stirling Howland.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe didn\u2019t do a festival beer this year, we\u2019re just over a year old so we\u2019re just focusing on doing our beers really, really well. The gimmicks and all the beers are cool and fine but right now we\u2019ve just gotta make our beers as good as we can so we can share with people what Balter is about."\r\n\r\n\u201cScotty\u2019s ability as a brewer is he creates insanely balanced and well-integrated beers. If there\u2019s alcohol he\u2019ll hide it, if there\u2019s crazy bitterness he\u2019ll balance it against all the other counterpoints. Our beer also probably reflects where we\u2019re from in Queensland \u2013 it\u2019s a hot, hot state so uplifting and bright styles of beer go down a treat.\u201d\r\n\r\nUplifting and bright it is - this is the perfect one for your next Sunday session when the weather warms up.\r\nBalter\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\nFrenchies Bistro & Brewery - Kiss From A. Rose\r\nA Bier de Garde (strong, golden style of pale ale from the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France) which has been fortified even further thanks to the addition of Archie Rose\u2019s White Rye. Despite the 10.2% ABV, this beer came through as very light and refreshing with a lovely viscosity and enough acidity on the finish to cut through the heavy hoppy, boozy flavours.\r\n\r\nHead brewer and one half of the Frenchies venture Vincent de Soyres says: \u201cWe made this beer thinking okay, we wanted to marry it with the white rye from Archie Rose because they\u2019re our neighbours, they\u2019re right next door, so we designed it (their Bier de Garde) around their white rye. We made the beer, then we added the white rye to make it over 10%.\u201d\r\n\r\nOn a hot day, these would be lethal, and we're fine with that.\r\nFrenchies\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\nGarage Project \u2013 Bhang Thandai\r\nIt\u2019s like a party in your mouth, and literally f*cking everybody's been invited, told their mates, shared it on Facebook and didn\u2019t bother RSVPing. But in a good way. 7.7% booze is the last thing you\u2019re thinking about, trying to decipher the eclectic mix of flavours in this thick, black liquid is another story. We loved this beer for its straight up weirdness, and would definitely try it again. And again. And again.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe love coming to GABS, it\u2019s a great festival.\u201d Says Garage Project\u2019s events manager Mattie. \u201cThe beer we brewed for today is called \u2018Bang Thandai\u2019, based on a traditional drink poured at the Holi festival in India. It\u2019s made generally kinda similar to a chai, but made with cannabis. Obviously we can\u2019t put cannabis in our beer, so we\u2019ve used hemp seed oil. There\u2019s also green cardamom, saffron, almonds, aniseed, pepper and other delicious things, and it\u2019s poured on nitro.\u201d\r\n\r\nDespite it being a mouthful, one wasn't enough.\r\nGarage Project\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\nT-Bone Brewing Co \u2013 Choc-Milk Stout\r\nExactly what it says on the label. Sweet milk stout made with milk sugar, vanilla and cacao nibs. Delicious. This beer was featured as part of The Tasmanian Beer Trail, which brought some of Tassie\u2019s best small breweries to the one stall at GABS this year. And they had beer pong.\r\n\r\nBrendan Parnell from Hobart Brewing Company was keen to share his insights. \u201cWe\u2019ve got a brewery on Hobart Waterfront and in Tassie there\u2019s been a whole heap of breweries open in the past 18 months to 2 two years. There\u2019s 5 in Hobart now and another 5 surrounding Hobart. There\u2019s a few of us now who are selling up here GABS \u2013 it\u2019s a great opportunity for people in Sydney to see what we\u2019re doing.\r\n\r\n\u00a0\u201cThe chocolate milk stout is quite different \u2013 it\u2019s had lactose added and really does taste \u00a0chocolatey and milky. And so\u2019s the 9.1% double IPA brewed on an island off an island off an island \u2013 down on Bruny Island.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe Apple Isle produces some of the best booze in the country, and The Tasmanian Beer Trail is only testament to that.\r\nThe Tasmanian Beer Trail\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\nYoung Henrys \u2013 Blanche Deveraux\r\nA French earl grey-infused Vienna lager finished with rose and marigold petals. The bergamot really shone through the hops, and made it super perfumey. We enjoyed it, but this could be a really polarizing beer, given the amount of flavour. Great food beer if you were eating something super buttery and didn\u2019t feel like wine.\r\n\r\n\u201cGABS is THE beer festival in Australia. It\u2019s the one everybody wants to go to and the reason they all want to go to it is that it\u2019s so f*cking awesome. You\u2019ve got the brass band, every brewery\u2019s here, over 150 unique beers, no other festival does that. That\u2019s probably why GABS is GABS and why we want to come each year\u201d, says Wombat, Deputy Head of Hi-Fives for Young Henrys.\r\n\r\nThis brewery is a staple for\u00a0just about every tapped venue in the country now it seems, thanks to their consistent, easy drinking go-to brews, but it's always interesting to see what they produce when they're experimenting. This was just one of many weird and delicious brews on the YH taps this year.\r\nYoung Henry's\r\nCheck out gabs\r\nHave you subscribed to Man of Many? You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.