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2018 Hottest 100 Australian Craft Beers – Our Thoughts

2018 Hottest 100 Australian Craft Beers – Our Thoughts

29th Jan 2019

Well another Hottest 100 Australian Craft Beers poll has come and gone – congratulations to GABS Festival for another incredibly well-run poll.

For the first time this year GABS also released the total number of people who entered their favourite beers of 2018. In total a whopping 31,000 took part – a big, big number.

We had over 18,000 take part in our 2018 Australian Craft Beer Survey – it’s exciting to see that GABS almost doubled that.

Comparison’s to 2008 Hottest 100 Australian Craft Beers

Below is the result of the 2008 edition of the poll.

1: PALE ALE (Australian Pale Ale) Little Creatures (WA)

2: ICON 2 IPA (Double IPA) Murray's Craft Brewing Co (NSW)

3: HIGHTAIL ALE (American Amber Ale) Mountain Goat Beer (VIC)

4: RESERVE LAGER (Pale Lager) Knappstein Enterprise Brewery (SA)

5: BRIGHT ALE (Australian Pale Ale) Little Creatures (WA)

6: GOLDEN ALE (Golden Ale) James Squire (NSW)

7: SPARKLING ALE (Australian Sparkling Ale) Coopers Brewery (SA)

8: PALE ALE (Australian Pale Ale) Coopers Brewery (SA)

9: MT MACEDON PALE ALE (American Pale Ale) Holgate Brewhouse (VIC)

10: AMBER ALE (English Brown Ale) James Squire (NSW)

11: BEAST IPA (American IPA) Jamieson Brewery (VIC)

12: NIRVANA PALE ALE (American Pale Ale) Murray's Craft Brewing Co (NSW)

13: ESB (ESB (Extra Special Bitter)) Holgate Brewhouse (VIC)

14: ESB (ESB (Extra Special Bitter)) Hargreaves Hill Brewing Co (VIC)

15: GRAND CRU (Belgian Tripel) Murray's Craft Brewing Co (NSW)

16: STOUT (Stout) Nail Brewing (WA)

17: ALPHA PALE ALE (American Pale Ale) Matilda Bay Brewing Company (VIC)

18: HOPINATOR (Double IPA) Holgate Brewhouse (VIC)

18: IMPERIAL STOUT (Russian Imperial Stout) Red Hill Brewery (VIC)

20: PALE ALE (American Pale Ale) Moo Brew (TAS)

21: PILSNER (Classic Pilsner) James Squire (NSW)

22: CHEVALIER SAISON (Saison/Farmhouse Ale) Bridge Road Brewers (VIC)

23: BEST EXTRA STOUT (Stout) Coopers Brewery (SA)

24: IPA (American IPA) James Squire (NSW)

25: ALE (Australian Pale Ale) Nail Brewing (WA)

26: ANNIVERSARY ALE (Wheatwine) Murray's Craft Brewing Co (NSW)

27: WHITE (Witbier) Feral Brewing Company (WA)

28: PALE ALE (American Pale Ale) Hargreaves Hill Brewing Co (VIC)

28: PILSNER (Classic Pilsner) Holgate Brewhouse (VIC)

30: CHOCOLATE PORTER (Porter) Holgate Brewhouse (VIC)

30: PILSNER (Classic Pilsner) Murray's Craft Brewing Co (NSW)

32: BLACK WATTLE ALE (Specialty Beer) Barons (NSW)

33: RED BACK WHEAT BEER (Kristallweizen) Matilda Bay Brewing Company (VIC)

34: SASSY BLONDE (Blonde Ale) Murray's Craft Brewing Co (NSW)

35: BEST EXTRA PORTER (Porter) Murray's Craft Brewing Co (NSW)

36: PREMIUM LAGER (Lager) Bluetongue Brewery (NSW)

36: PALE ALE (American Pale Ale) Mountain Goat Beer (VIC)

36: SAISON (Saison/Farmhouse Ale) Temple Brewing Company (VIC)

39: DUKE PALE ALE (American Pale Ale) Burleigh Brewing Co (QLD)

39: VINTAGE ALE (British Strong Ale) Coopers Brewery (SA)

41: BIG REG (Vienna Lager) Holgate Brewhouse (VIC)

42: IPA (American IPA) Mountain Goat Beer (VIC)

43: BOHEMIAN PILZNER (Bohemian/Czech Pilsener) Matilda Bay Brewing Company (VIC)

43: WILD THING (Imperial Stout) Murray's Craft Brewing Co (NSW)

43: SCOTCH ALE (Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy) Red Hill Brewery (VIC)

43: WEIZENBOCK (Weizenbock) Red Hill Brewery (VIC)

43: BALTIC PORTER (Baltic Porter) Redoak (NSW)

48: STAIRCASE PORTER (Porter) Bright Brewery (VIC)

49: GROWLER (American Brown Ale) 2 Brothers Brewery (VIC)

49: BOHEMIAN PILSNER (Bohemian/Czech Pilsener) Red Hill Brewery (VIC)

51: BREWERS BLING (American IPA) Bridge Road Brewers (VIC)

52: FAINTERS DOUBLE (Belgian Dubbel) Bright Brewery (VIC)

53: IPA (American IPA) Colonial Brewing Co (WA)

53: ALE (Fruit Beer) Pepperjack (VIC)

55: IPA (American IPA) Gage Roads Brewing Co (WA)

56: HOP HARVEST (ESB (Extra Special Bitter)) Red Hill Brewery (VIC)

57: ROGERS (American Amber Ale) Little Creatures (WA)

58: ROOFTOP RED (Vienna Lager) Matilda Bay Brewing Company (VIC)

58: PALE ALE (American Pale Ale) Temple Brewing Company (VIC)

60: BLACK (Stout) 3 Ravens Brewery (VIC)

60: RAZOR WITBIER (Witbier) Bright Brewery (VIC)

62: DUKE HEFEWEIZEN (Hefeweizen) Burleigh Brewing Co (QLD)

62: PORTER (Porter) James Squire (NSW)

62: FANCY PANTS (American Amber Ale) Mountain Goat Beer (VIC)

62: SUREFOOT STOUT (Stout) Mountain Goat Beer (VIC)

66: PREMIUM LAGER (Pale Lager) James Boag's (TAS)

67: DARK (Rauchbier) 3 Ravens Brewery (VIC)

67: WHITE ALE (Witbier) Holgate Brewhouse (VIC)

69: GIPPSLAND GOLD (English Pale Ale) Grand Ridge Brewery (VIC)

69: DARK ALE (Dark Mild) Moo Brew (TAS)

71: BLONDE (Blonde Ale) 3 Ravens Brewery (VIC)

72: HOP HOG (American Pale Ale) Feral Brewing Company (WA)

72: STORM CLOUDY ALE (American Pale Ale) Mildura Brewery (VIC)

72: IPA (American IPA) Steam Exchange Brewery (SA)

75: SON OF A BEAST DIPA (Double American IPA) Jamieson Brewery (VIC)

75: STOUT (Stout) Northern Rivers Brewing Co (NSW)

77: 55 (American Pale Ale) 3 Ravens Brewery (VIC)

77: MOONSHINE (Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy) Grand Ridge Brewery (VIC)

77: DOUBLE TROUBLE (Belgian Dubbel) Holgate Brewhouse (VIC)

80: PALE ALE (American Pale Ale) Bridge Road Brewers (VIC)

80: STOUT (Stout) Southwark Brewery (SA)

82: CHEVALIER BIERE DE GARDE (Bière de Garde) Bridge Road Brewers (VIC)

82: BLOWHARD PALE (American Pale Ale) Bright Brewery (VIC)

82: PILSNER (Classic Pilsner) Little Creatures (WA)

82: RAUCHBIER MÄRZEN (Rauchbier) Redoak (NSW)

86: ESB (ESB (Extra Special Bitter)) Barons (NSW)

86: HELLFIRE (ESB (Extra Special Bitter)) Bright Brewery (VIC)

86: NEW NORCIA ABBEY ALE (Belgian Golden Strong Ale) Malt Shovel Brewery (NSW)

86: ESB (ESB (Extra Special Bitter)) Redoak (NSW)

86: CRACKENBACK PALE ALE (American Pale Ale) Snowy Mountains Brewery (NSW)

91: DARK ALE (English Brown Ale) Coopers Brewery (SA)

91: CROWN LAGER (Pale Lager) Carlton & United Breweries (VIC)

91: RAZORBACK (Barley Wine) Feral Brewing Company (WA)

91: HAHN PREMIUM (Classic Pilsner) Hahn Brewery (NSW)

91: SPECIAL BITTER (ESB (Extra Special Bitter)) Temple Brewing Company (VIC)

96: PALE ALE (Australian Pale Ale) Red Duck (VIC)

97: SMOKED APA (American Pale Ale) Hunter Beer Co (NSW)

97: RED ANGUS PILSENER (Classic Pilsner) William Bull Brewery (NSW)

99: CHRISTMAS ALE (Christmas/Winter Specialty Spiced Beer) Red Hill Brewery (VIC)

99: OLD (Dark Ale) Tooheys (NSW)

The annual poll now has now been run 11 times, first starting in 2008. When you look at the original beers that featured in the 2008 poll, there has been a lot that has changed.

In total there were 41 different breweries that polled in the 2008 Hottest 100 Australian Craft Beers:

- 8 breweries are no longer around (Barons, Snowy Mountains Brewery, Northern River Brewery, William Bull Brewery, Jamieson Brewery, Pepperjack, Knappstein Enterprise Brewery, Bluetongue Brewery) while Matilda Bay has morphed into Yak Ales.

- 3 breweries were purchased by Big Beer (Little Creatures purchased by Lion, Mountain Goat by Asahi, Feral by Coca Cola).

There were four entries for what we now consider very mainstream beer: 66. James Boags Premium, 91. Hahn Premium/Crown Lager and 99. Tooheys Old – add to that 36. Bluetongue Premium Lager if it was still around.

Of those beers that did poll 26 are no longer in existence to our knowledge (and possibly more), while a number will have seen their recipe change pretty significantly over the past 10 years.

The widespread distribution of Feral Hop Hog hadn’t yet started – polling at 72 in 2008 before moving up to 7 th the following year and taking out top gong in 2012.

Similarly, Stone & Wood’s Pacific Ale was unknown. It’s first polling was in 2009 at number 14 under the name Draught Ale. The next year it moved up to 3rd and then 1st in 2011.

5 Key Factors Which Determine Hottest 100 Success

Each year social media is full of complaints that Brewery X was robbed of a placing in the Hottest 100 poll and that the results are crazy.

We must always remember that this is a popularity vote, particularly when you have 31,000 people voting. It’s not going to be the best beer that makes the poll (we would imagine Beer Judges would find it difficult to call this Australia’s best beers). There are a number of factors that influence whether a beer makes the list. We’ve written about this before, but here are 5 key factors which determine Hottest 100 success – you don’t need all of these, but you do to make it to the position of top dog.

1. Make Quality Beer

This sounds like a no-brainer, but as much as everything, it is about creating a beer that is consistent every time someone drinks it. A beer that people love and have amazing memories with.

2. Distribution

Put simply if a beer doesn’t have widespread distribution it’s always going to have a hard time placing, as the number of people that have tried and know about a beer is so much smaller

3. Brewery Database & Activity

To succeed in the Hottest 100 you need a massive database and a way to connect to them via email and social media. As an example, Balter has an Instagram following of just under 60,000 and a Facebook following of just under 20,000.

But a database is simply not enough; you need to have a call to arms, not just once, but multiple times in the hope that fans of a brewery will place their votes.

4. Be Loved

Making great beer is a great start to getting consumers to consider a brewery for their vote, but with the quality of Australian beer increasing all the time, it is hard for one brewery to stand out from another based purely on what they taste like. Drinkers want to buy into a brewery and what they represent – both Balter and Stone & Wood do this amazingly well; they have created values and an ethos that resonates very strongly with Australian craft beer drinkers.

5. Be Independent

Again, not a critical factor as a number of non-independent beers made the list, but if you aren’t independent, you’re already at a disadvantage. As an example, Pirate Life IIPA was second in 2016, this year after being purchased in 2017 it was 79 th.

For 2018 88% of the beers that made the list were from independent breweries – up from 71% in 2017.

The Support of The Local Community

One thing that was mind-blowing this year was how five breweries came out of relative obscurity to claim a place in this years Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers poll; One Mile Brewery from Darwin; Your Mates, 10 Toes, and Brouhaha from the Sunshine Coast; and The Welder’s Dog from regional NSW (Armidale & Tamworth).

These breweries would have almost zero distribution outside of their local area, but they have been able to unite the community and their fan base into voting with their hearts. A great example of this is One Mile Brewery who called all Territorians to arms via the NT News to help put Darwin on the map as the nation’s crafty capital.

The Statistics

Having pioneered the Australian Craft Beer Survey where we literally sleep with the numbers, we couldn’t help but add some stats to this blog piece.

- 46 brewers/brewing companies made the Hottest 100 Aussie Beers List

- 8 brewers/brewing companies made the list for the first time

- 77 of the beers have featured in packaged or keg format at Beer Cartel previously

- 77 of the beers are available in cans

- Balter (QLD) and Capital (ACT) had the most beers on the list with 6 each

- BentSpoke (ACT) and Young Henrys (NSW) were next with 5 beers each

Looking at the performance of individual states ACT is a massive overachiever:

1. NSW: 26 beers on list from 13 breweries

2. QLD: 22 beers on list from 9 breweries

3. VIC: 19 beers from 13 breweries

4. ACT: 11 beers from 2 breweries

5. SA: 9 beers from 3 breweries

6. WA: 9 beers from 5 breweries

7. NT: 4 beers from 1 brewery

Buy the Hottest 100 Beers of 2018 Here.