It is that time of year when beer drinkers reflect on their favourite tastes of the past 12 months.
Nothing is different at The Sip headquarters. Our team is in the privileged position of being able to sample many of WA's best brews - so whitling down a list of the best beers to just six is no easy task.
But we love a challenge. And as the true independent chronicle for WA brewing it was our team's duty to provide a list worthy of debate. The rule was the beer recipe had to be new in 2018.
So here it is. And if you want to hear more please download the latest episode of The Sip Beer Laboratory podcast in which we go into greater depth and get some other views on the best new beers over the calendar.
1. NAIL – SUPER VPA (8.5%)
Maybe Superman was on steroids. Brewer John Stallwood has taken his VPA (6.5%) and given it an injection of beer testosterone to develop one of the most dangerous yet delectable drinks of the year. It takes a superhuman effort to make this brew. Two people shave 100kg lemon and limes – about 1000 all up – to give Super VPA the citrus zest that has made it so popular. That takes about three to four hours each brew. There is also enough El Dorado hops to stop a speeding train. The green goodness enhances the fruity aroma of the beer. This is a limited release and will likely be gone by the end of January. But there is a chance there might be a sighting of Super VPA flying over the horizon in mid-winter. Those at the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular 2016 got a sneak tasting of the recipe but it was tweaked for launch in cans in late September. Get this one while it lasts.
2. FERAL – SHOOTER McGAVIN’S BREAKFAST IPA (7.1%)
Another WA beer that was first fired at GABS. This was Feral’s unique beer at this year’s festival – and The Sip drank plenty of it with the help of a couple of identities from one of the nation's biggest AFL player management agencies. So what is a Breakfast IPA? We’ve heard of Breakfast Stouts but is this the same theory? Sort of. Grains of nutra, flakes of corn, bix of wheet, bubbles of rice and bran of all have been thrown into the mash. A couple of big spoonfuls of lactose have also made their way into the brew. The result is a very hazy, light-coloured concoction. This gives off a stonefruit sensation and there may even be a little bit of cereal at the bottom of the glass. Named in honour of the line uttered by the first loser in the Happy Gilmore film, “I eat pieces of ^&*! like you for breakfast.”
3. BOSTON BREWING – DEVILSLIDE RED IPA (7.4%)
This refers to the trail near Porongorup a short drive up the road from the Boston brewery in Denmark. WA that is! It might be an India Pale Ale but it is the malt that makes this beer so enjoyable. Bread-like, definitely with a tinge of biscuit and a bit of toffee coming through early on the palate before the heavy bitterness of the style shines on the swallow. Pine is detectable late in the sip. Another of the core range that has made Boston a growing favourite in WA and South Australia.
4. COLONIAL – SOUTH WEST SOUR (4.5%)
If sour was a colour it would be what decorates this can. It could be puce but possibly mauve - we think. Sours have been the beer de force over the past 18 months but what makes this brew stand out is the lactobacillus injected in production. Combined with the Ale yeast this provides an almost yoghurt taste that smoothens the sourness exacerbated by the pineapple extracted from the hops. Perfectly balanced. It was great when released in February and has remained immensely popular. A Margaret River speciality from Ash Hazell and his WA team.
5. ARTISAN – RE-UNFORBIDDEN (6.5%)
The Sip has a secret. The team likes fig – a lot. So when combined with one of its favourite styles – anything to do with Belgium – it is mouth marriage made in a mash for the crew. Australia’s first Cicerone, Brian Fitzgerald, is a master of Belgian-style beer and he has used dried figs and dates to enhance the Red Witbier called Unforbidden he had in kegs last year. While the fruits shine, so, too, does the malt and spice. It is very easy to make a bad Belgian. We’re yet to have one from Artisan.
6. INDIAN OCEAN – PLUMED SERPENT CHOCOLATE STOUT (7.5%)
Named after the mythical figure from ancient Aztec and Mayan culture, this was a short-term release from the team at Mindarie. And it went faster than a snake’s tongue. Chocolate is the key to this Stout but there isn’t so much as to think you’re munching on a Cadbury’s. There is a slight roasted nut element but a slightly bitter coffee edge that goes so well with a Stout base.