The second wave of Australian craft beer is still holding shore. But the third wave is breaking and it is being ridden by a group of surfers and a team of pirates.
Stone and Wood, a fleet leader for independent brewers for more than a decade, again topped the mast in the GABSFest Hottest 100 Craft Beers of 2016 – the national poll conducted by the team behind Australia’s biggest industry festival – with its much loved Pacific Ale.
And its old rival Feral from WA was again in contention for the post until Hop Hog settled for third.
Pacific Ale and Hop Hog had traded the premier position over the past few years. It was a mark of honour to the two breweries that started in the early to mid 2000s and along with Little Creatures kickstarted a craft beer movement that was ignited in the early 1980s but had stalled a decade later.
However, newcomers are well on their way.
Pirate Life, which burst onto the H100 list last year with a third placing for its Imperial India Pale Ale and fourth for Pale Ale, went one run higher. The 8.8 per cent IIPA was runner-up in the latest count.
It was among three in the top seven for the Adelaide-based brewery with the 2016-released India Pale Ale at No.5 and Pale Ale at No.7.
Pirate Life, spearheaded by Jack Cameron and Jared Proudfoot, only began operation 23 months ago.
Balter, financially backed by surfing stars Joel Parkinson, Josh Kerr, Bede Durbidge and Mick Fanning, started last year. Its Balter XPA bolted into fourth place on debut in the H100. Fanning was earlier named in the Australia Day honours.
Then there was BentSpoke in Canberra. The little-known operation poured its first beer in 2014. It had its Barley Griffin Australian Pale Ale at 19 with the Crankshaft American India Pale Ale at No.8. Crankshaft leapt 80 spots.
Balter XPA, Pirate Life IPA and Gage Roads Little Dove (No.5) were new entries in 2016.
IPAs and Pale Ales, as expected and as normal, dominated the votes. And it is astonishing an 500ml black can with 3.5 standard drinks inside from Pirate Life can almost get the gold. It shows Australian craft beer drinkers’ tastes.
James Squire’s 150 Lashes (14) and Little Creatures Pale Ale (15) fell from the top 10.
There were some surprises. The absence of a Coopers brew in the H100 was startling. Yet Coopers didn’t forward their beer names to the poll organisers.
Mountain Goat, had been a perennial high finisher, yet its first entrance was at No.36 for its Summer Ale.
Riverside’s 777 was No.26 last year. It was 115 in 2016.
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