There is a saying in politics “the voters are always right”.
It is the same in popularity polls. No-one can deny the evidence that comes from the result.
That is the case with the GABS Hottest 100 Australian craft beers of 2018.
With 31,000 individual respondents it was a fair snapshot on drinkers’ preferences. It provided some fascinating data. And it was a bit of fun.
Yet it again showed that the majority of WA brewers are going to struggle to get on to the list because of the State’s population size and the tyranny of distance between the west and east coasts.
The official infographic on the Crafty Pint claimed there were nine WA beers that made the grade.
But there was an asterisk. And it is significant because in reality Colonial’s Pale Ale (no.60) and Little Creatures Pale Ale (no.62) got to their placings on the back of being brewed in Melbourne and Geelong. That allowed those beers to be exposed on the eastern seaboard and attracting votes from consumers in Victoria, New South Wales and Victoria.
Speaking of distribution, it is also highly crucial in dissecting WA beer’s Hottest 100 fortunes that of the other seven Sandgroper brews, six came from Feral (Biggie Juice, no.100 and Hop Hog, no.53), Gage Roads (Atomic, no.66, Little Dove no.57 and Single Fin, No.10) and Colonial (South West Sour at no.96) which have very strong sales arms in the eastern States.
It was the interstaters' input that helped them make the list.
The only small WA brewery to get a look in was Nail with VPA at no.72.
Whether you agree with the sentiments or not, Feral, too, has dropped support in the wake of its sale to Coca Cola Amatil and its loss of independence.
With 72 WA breweries the votes from locals in the Hottest 100 seemed to be spread too thin. While Queensland’s 10 Toes and The Welder’s Dog from Armidale in NSW had strong recognition it was no doubt the ability to garner the community spirit in their regions that got them over the line.
There wasn’t the same passion for individual WA breweries as few have distinct areas of dominance. When you think Darwin's One Mile had virtually the whole of Northern Territory behind it there was definitely a voting advantage. And so it had four entries in the top 100.
While Rocky Ridge produced some outstanding brews in 2018 its high turnover of beers meant its support, too, would have been split over many, not a few, labels.
This isn’t a complaint about the poll. It is a national exercise and West Australians have regularly found they struggle to be competitive in these types of votes. It is a natural phenomenon.
There shouldn’t be any whingeing at Balter XPA topping the list. As an Australia-wide sold beer it has plenty of supporters in these parts.
But WA beer drinkers should invoke the parochial clause, so often used to boost our spirits in these circumstances.
We know the State has plenty of outstanding breweries pushing out super beers. Many more Sandgropers are enjoying them. And they will continue to do so.
Thus we can be proud of what we have to drink in our own backyard – even if it takes those from the east a little longer to catch up with us.