It’s the time when everyone in Australia starts reminiscing over the previous year, contemplating all the things that made them excited. These thoughts become lists, and these lists then turn into votes for Australia’s best of 2012, which is then counted down on the best day of the year – Australia Day. Granted, most people focus on their top songs, which go towards the Triple J Hottest 100. But the diehard beer fans out there are also furiously reviewing their Untappd check-ins and notes scribbled on coasters to determine their top 5 Australian beers of 2012, in order to cast their vote in the Local Taphouse’s Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beer.
This year I set myself a few criteria to help whittle down my selections:
– I had to have drunk it at sometime through 2012 (obviously)
– I had to have tried the brew on more than one occasion; this rules out any decisions made while star struck (i.e. wow, the new beer by ‘insert fantastic Aussie brewery here’, awesome!), and (hopefully) rules out any decisions made while inebriated. It also reflects the next selection criteria…
– It had to be easily available to me. There’s no point in voting for a beer that I was only able try once on tap somewhere in Melbourne. If I couldn’t get it locally, then it didn’t make the cut.
Here are my votes for 2012:
5. Mad Brewers: Hoppy Hefe, Malt Shovel Brewery
I first tried this on tap at the Fox Hotels Australia Day craft beer event. It blew me away with complex fruit flavours from both the American style hops and the German wheat beer body. It became my go to beer to serve to non-craft beer drinkers, due to it being so different, so approachable, and so readily available. This is also the first beer that I ‘cellared’ (by which I mean stored a few in our spare room cupboard) so that I could enjoy it over the Christmas period. The beer is all gone now, enjoyed during the most recent test match; it aged well, and was a great addition to my summer of cricket.
4. Cross Breed: Gypsy & The Goat, Mountain Goat and Mikkeller
I was lucky enough to be in Canberra shortly after this beer was released, so I was able to find it in the bottle shop behind my hotel. And what a find it was! I was already beginning to fall in love with black IPA’s, but the addition of the peppery/berryish pepperberries took this beer to another level. Pepperberry is a native Aussie bush tucker food that added a really nice freshness to this dark brew. This was one of a number of collaborative brews born from the visit of gypsy brewer Mikkel Borg Bjergsø of Mikkeller fame, all of which rated quite highly on my shortlist (I guess everything he touches turns to gold – or maybe black gold?)
3. Rare Breed: Rye IPA, Mountain Goat
I also had this for the first time while I was in Canberra (not a bad beer city at all) and it opened my eyes to just how good rye makes beer taste, especially IPA’s. Spicy and hoppy and spicy, it’s made rye one of my favourite ale ingredients. When I found it on sale at a bottle shop in Brisbane, I lost my mind and bought every bottle the shop had left (which was only 4 bottles, but I would’ve bought more if possible) This is another brew that I took to a few dinner parties, this time to serve to other curious beer folk and spread the goodness of rye.
2. India Pale Ale, Mountain Goat
Yep, three Mountain Goat beers in my top 5 – seems I had a bit of a love affair with them last year. This isn’t a new beer, but it’s newly available in stubbies with distribution that sees it gracing the shelves of my local Dan Murphy’s. This puts it within walking distance of my front door, meaning I have access to a fantastic Aussie IPA whenever I want. When I’m heading to a party/festival/dinner/…well any event that involves beer, this is the beer that I’m likely to be carrying. That is, unless I’ve managed to get a few bottles of my number 1 choice…
1. FIGJAM IPA, Burleigh Brewing Co.
This beer and the Mountainn Goat IPA are on par in my books. What puts this one over the line to take out my top spot is the fact that it’s locally brewed for local conditions. Many times over this summer, while I’ve had the hot Queensland sunn beating down on me, it’s been this ale that I turned to as my salvation. I could go into detail about what makes it so good, or you could just read my drinking notes here.
So that’s my top 5. Special mention must also go to:
– Little Creatures and their ‘Wet Hopped Pale Ale’
– Bridge Road Brewery with their collaborative efforts with both Mikkeller (the ‘Dark Harvest’) and with Archive Beer Boutique (the bar series ‘Tennessee Stud’)
– James Squire with their thrice hopped red ale the ‘Highwayman’ and the ‘Blackmail’ Black Rye IPA (seriously, these should be released as single batch bottles, it’s a crime to keep them hidden in the Portland Hotel)
In my research I realised that there are a lot of fantastic sounding beers that don’t make it this far north. As such I’ve not been lucky enough (or dedicated enough maybe) to get my hands on them. So if anyone reads my top 5 and thinks that I’ve omitted some fantastic beers, by all means let me know in the comments below. If it’s a great beer and not mentioned here, there’s a good chance that I missed it and need to track it down.
Votes close at 2330 on 15/01/2013…which is TONIGHT! So if you haven’t voted yet, head to the Crafty Pint website and make your opinion count. The Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers will be unveiled on Australia Day.
Just for shits and giggles, here’s my Triple J Hottest 100 vote also:
10. PSY – Gangnam Style (yeah, I went there)
9. NAS ft Rick Ross – Accident Murderers
8. Rudimental ft John Newman – Feel the Love
7. Icona Pop ft Charli XCX – I Love It
6. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft Wanz – Thrift Shop
5. Knife Party – Internet Friends
4. The Bloody Beetroots – Rocksteady
3. Deadmau5 – The Veldt
2. The Bloody Beetroots ft Greta Svabo Bech – Chronicles of a Fallen Love
1. Skrillex ft Sirah – Bangarang