Lists, best of’s, and worst of’s – the end of the year provides a time to reflect on what has been, and what might have been. Australian beer is no different in this respect, with GABS offering an opportunity for punters to vote for their favourite beers as part of the Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers poll. It’s come in for criticism recently, with some of the larger, arguably ‘non crafty’ players being included. They’ve been the benefactor of votes in the past based largely on the fact their ability to get the drinks on shelves and their distribution footprint is far greater than the smaller breweries, regardless of the quality produced. It remains to be seen whether this also occurs this year too – my thoughts are it will.
I’ve opted to use the same criteria as I did for my vote last year – I’ve rated it at least four and a quarter stars on UnTapped, only beers I’ve consumed in the 2016 calendar year, and no festival beers unless consumed at another time. The app only let me scroll so far, but still gave me 13 beers to choose from, which is more than enough to whittle down to five.
Though a difficult decision in the past, I feel there were some stand-outs beers of 2016 for me:
- Bacchus Brewing Co – Peanut Brittle Gose: A gose is not a style I’m a massive fan of, but as GABS People’s Choice winner this year, it was bound to be good. I purchased it as a dessert beer for Christmas Day, and it didn’t disappoint (luckily, because at $19 a pop she’s not cheap). It had the gose saltiness, but this buttery and nutty flavour which rounded it out perfectly.
- Feral Brewing Company – Watermelon Warhead: Not a new beer by any means, but I was able to get my mittens on it for the first time at the Pourhouse in Maitland. Light, not overwhelmingly sour, and with a beautiful watermelon flavour swimming all the way through, this berliner weisse style beer is fantastic!
- Feral Brewing Company – War Hog: The can was a vessel which has picked up a big head of steam this year, but this is the only one in my top five. A hop bomb with a juicy mouthfeel, this was an awesomely refreshing drop.
- Akasha Brewing Company – Korben D. Double IPA: Shared a long neck of this with the better half, who also enjoyed it. Great flavour and wonderfully balanced for a DIPA, a style which can occasionally be overwhelmed by hops. Not this one. Haven’t spotted it since this single purchase, but not for a lack of trying.
- Wild Thing – Murray’s Craft Brewing Co: I had to get at least one local beer on the list. It’s a big, black beer, perfect for the cool months. I’m already looking forward to 2017’s version and its associated variants being released over the coming months.
Honourable mentions – Feral’s Hop Hog, still a great beer, but either my tastes have changed or other beers are getting ahead; FogHorn Brewhouse’s Young Americans IPA, another local beer; Golden Stout Time out of Adelaide’s Big Shed Brewing Concern; and Sonic Prayer by Modus Operandi – a beer which first appeared in the latter half of the year, should get a spot in the top 50 based on the public’s response.