How To Win People’s Choice at GABS Festival

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In this article, I’m going to show you how to win People’s Choice at GABS Festival.

Each year in May and June, the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular hits Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland.

In terms of the type of beer festival it is, it is truly unique in the world beer scene.

Born in 2011 at The Local Taphouse in Melbourne, the idea was to create a beer festival where each brewery had to create a brand new beer and debut it at GABS.

The idea was an instant hit.

Now in its 8th year, GABS Festival moved from its pub roots to The Royal Exhibition Centre in Melbourne and has also expanded to Sydney and Auckland, NZ.

This year will see some 170 “Festival Beers” all with their first pour at GABS.

A typical GABS punter.

The punters at the festival can use an app on their phone or the GABS website to vote for People’s Choice.

GABS People’s Choice, like the Hottest 100 Beers, is definitely a popularity contest.

In 2015, I was fortunate enough to brew an Imperial Milk Stout with Coffee called “Milk and Two Sugars” which went on to win People’s Choice at GABS.

I really liked my hair style back then.

There is no doubt that winning People’s Choice was a massive marketing win for BrewCult and launched the brand to national distribution.

Hoppy Beers Rarely Win GABS People’s Choice

If you’re thinking of an idea as to what sort of beer to brew at GABS, then you really need to dig deep into that creative part of your brain.

If you’re thinking of brewing an IPA, IIPA, IIIPA or NEIPA then it’s unlikely that it’ll garnish enough votes to count.

The reasons are many.  For example:

  • IPA needs to be fresh to have any wow factor so you need to ask yourself if your beer will still be fresh by the time it arrives across the ditch (depending upon whether you’re an Aussie or Kiwi brewer).
  • The punters can buy an IPA any day of the week. GABS is about seeking out new beer experiences.  Why would they try your IPA when there are so many other new and interesting beers available?
  • It is difficult to get a massive aroma kick from hops to fire in a 60mL plastic cup.
Yeah you can brew an IPA for gabs but nah.

That’s not to say that IPAs don’t work at GABS at all – Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta is a classic example – you’re just going to have a hard time impressing the punters with one.

Get On The Punters’ “Must Try” List. Create A Beer With Some Serious Buzz

Once the list of festival beers has been released by GABS Festival then you’re free to promote your beer.

But don’t break the embargo and release your beer before GABS – otherwise your beer will be scratched.

Firstly, you need to have a beer with a story.

That might be an interesting ingredient, brewing technique or some other aspect of the beer that makes it interesting.

Use your social media following to create a buzz around your beer.

A great example of a good beer idea with a huge buzz was “Belly Button Beer” by 7cent Brewery.

The 7cent boys created a beer fermented with yeast harvested from brewer Bakes’ belly button.

They also created some buzz by creating a cool video to go with the beer.

I highly recommend creating some video content about your beer.

If you pass the video on to the GABS Festival organisers, they’ll likely play it on the big screens at the festival.

This will help you get more votes.

Just remember that video played at GABS itself is likely to be played without sound, so take that into consideration when producing video content.

The 7cent video had great content and high production value and was picked up by national and even international press!

You can’t beat that sort of buzz.

If you are going to come even close to winning People’s Choice at GABS, then you must be on the punters’ “must try” list.

The heat you put into your Festival Beer should ensure that punters will at least try your beer in the 170 beers on offer.

Impress The Punters In 60mL Or Less

Once you’ve created your beer, you need to understand how it is consumed.

Although you can buy a full size serve of each festival beer, know this.

Your beer will mostly be consumed in a 60mL plastic cup as part of several tasting paddles that the punter will buy throughout the day.

Think about that for a second.

A punter is likely to have 4-6 paddles per session and they’re trying everything from IPA to sours to brett beers and everything in between.

How are you supposed to stand out amongst the crowd?

Simple. You need to wow every punter in 60mL or less.

This is all you’ve got to impress a punter.

In my experience, the best way to do that is to do what your beer says on the tin.

That means, creating a beer and giving it a direct name that reflects the experience that the punter is likely to get.

Give your beer a direct name about what to expect and do it in a witty way, if possible.

Don’t even attempt to be obscure about the beer’s name.

Then ensure that it has big aroma and flavour to impress in 60mL.

You’re only job then is to meet the punter’s expectation and not disappoint.

Get Your Punters to Actually Vote (…And Vote For Your Beer)

So you’ve managed to get on to your punter’s “must try” list and they’ve actually made it to GABS and tried your beer.

And you’ve even managed to impress that punter with your amazing creation.

Now you need to get that punter to vote.

But how do you actually get the punters to vote and better still, vote for your beer?

In order to vote, punters need the GABS app on their phone or they can vote online via the GABS website.

Having a stand at GABS works great because it’s a brand activation where punters can interact directly with you.

Use that opportunity to encourage them to download the app and vote for your beer.

Better still, have an iPad handy to quickly whip out and get them to vote.

Getting out and interact amongst the crowd at GABS works well too – just don’t be a vote pest.

Don’t be _that_ brewer.

Finally, you can use your social media channels to encourage a vote in your favour.

Just don’t offer incentives for votes as I’m pretty sure that the same rules for GABS Hottest 100 apply here too.


There’s no doubt that winning GABS Festival People’s Choice would be an awesome lift to your brand.

So remember the following points:

  1. Create an amazing beer that will impress in a 60mL plastic cup.
  2. Give it a witty name that says what it does on the tin.
  3. Generate some hype in your beer and tell its story to get on the punters’ “must try” list.
  4. Actually get people to try your GABS Festival beer.
  5. Actually get your fans to vote – and vote for your GABS beer.
  6. Profit

See you all at GABS.

Hit me up and say hi if you see me 🙂

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