December. The month conjures images of Christmas, hot weather, and of course, voting for the Hottest 100 beers.
The annual popularity contest polls the nation and has been presenting the results of Australia’s favourite craft brews every Australia Day since 2008. While some cry foul that the larger brands get more recognition in the poll for reasons of distribution or advertising, and others question the definition of “craft” and whether certain entries should even be considered, it’s hard to deny that the results do reflect a snapshot in time for good beer in Australia.
I, for one, could care less about definitions and conspiracy theories (except for the #votehammerhead debacle of 2014). I just place my vote like any patriotic beer drinker would, and anxiously await to see who the movers and shakers are on the 26th of January.
It seems that each year I take a different approach to my voting strategy. One year saw me voting only local, one year saw me picking through the best of my Untappd check-ins. This year, however, my votes will be cast towards beer that I can happily drink again and again. Beers that make me pull them off the shelf of my favourite bottle shop every time I go in.
So without further ado, here are where my ballots landed this year, in no particular order.
Newstead Two to the Valley IPA
What can I say about this beer that I haven’t said already countless times before? Newstead Brewing’s constant tweaking of this recipe has made a juicy, punchy IPA that I, without fail, end up bringing home a growler of every time I make my way to the brewery.
Wolf of the Willows IPA
This beer took me by storm. I first had this while doing a blind IPA tasting with Chasing Ale; a piney, resinous India Pale that was hiding amongst a sea of passion fruit and citrus based counterparts. The first words that came out of my mouth after imbibing was “Wow”. If WotW IPA is on tap or bottle anywhere, my wallet comes out.
Currumbin Valley Look Out IIPA
Currumbin Valley is VERY new to the scene here, and to fire out of the gates with a DIPA is ballsy. The scary thing is this 8% beast drinks like a 6%, deceptively lulling you into a session that ends much sooner than you anticipate. “Look Out” is an appropriate name.
Black Hops Brewing Hornet
The Black Hops crew put out a solid White IPA with their “Flashbang”, but anticipation ran high in SEQ when the Hornet was announced. This was Black Hop’s first full-fledged IPA, and it did not disappoint. Great balance in this aggressively bitter beer.
Boatrocker Miss Pinky
Boatrocker’s Miss Pinky is a beer that is hard to sell to a “normal” beer consumer, with its colour, name, and description being a stopping point for many of the people that walk into the establishment I work at. That is, until they try it. The 3.3% Berliner-Weisse is crisp, light-bodied, a bit sour, a bit dry, and super refreshing. This is my #1 summer beer this year.
Honourable mention: Modus Operandi Sonic Prayer, Mismatch Negroni IPA
Movers and Shakers
I have a couple predictions on what we may see in this year’s poll:
- We’re going to see Balter Brewing’s XPA land in the top 5 this year. The speed and force in which this beer has come onto the market, it would be odd if it wasn’t on most people’s minds come voting time.
- Pirate Life saw a big year last year taking 2 out of the 5 top spots. I think they will still hold a solid spot on the top 100, but will slip quite considerably as the initial hype of the launch has cooled down.
- Stone & Wood and Feral will duke it out for the top two positions once again. We’re not quite at a point where these two pinnacles of Australian beer can be knocked off their perch, but I would be pleased to see myself wrong. I’m leaning towards Stone & Wood to take the gong for top beer.
- Boatrocker Miss Pinky will rank very highly, perhaps in the top 15. It’s a non-pale/IPA style that’s on everyone’s lips (figuratively and elsewise).
- I expect to see a few more Gose’s to show up. Maybe not this year, but next year perhaps. With more and more breweries taking the leap into the sour/salty style, and great examples of it such as the 4 Pines “Guava Gose” and Green Beacon’s “Blood Orange” Gose, it would be remiss to not have this style represented.
- Finally, and this is more of a hope then a prediction, but more QLD breweries making the top 100 would be lovely.
There we go. In a little under 5 weeks, we’ll get to see where my votes and thoughts land on the 100 entry long list. What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with any of my predictions?
Voting is still live until the 20th of January, so be sure to go and vote for your favourites at http://gabsfestival.com/aussie-hottest-100/