We’ve written about beer lists before and how they can really divide (and anger) its intended audience. We all know beer and tastes are very subjective so it should come as no real surprise that this year's Hottest 100 Australian Craft Beers of 2015, released on Australia Day and organised by the team behind The Local Taphouse and The Great Australasian Spectapular (GABS), and voted on by the beer drinking public, had a mixed bag of responses.
Just so we are all on the same page the top 10 beers were:
1. Stone & Wood Pacific Ale
2. Feral Brewing Hop Hog
3. Pirate Life IIPA
4. Pirate Life Pale Ale
5. Little Creatures Pale Ale
6. James Squire 150 Lashes Pale Ale
7. 4 Pines Pale Ale
8. 4 Pines Kolsch
9. Modus Operandi Former Tenant Red IPA
10. Feral Brewing Karma Citra Black IPA
So what was so controversial?
1. Brewing giant Lion Nathan (across all their beer brands) had 13 beers place in the top 100, with James Squires 150 Lashes placing 6th.
2. Many of the beers that placed in last years top 100 didn't even get a look in.
Some things to consider:
Beers on the list. Each brewery was responsible for submitting their beers to the list for voting. Some brewers were late in adding their beers, i.e. after voting began. You've gotta be in it to win it.
Distribution is everything. We call it “brand in hand”. If someone hasn't tried your beer or it’s not easily accessible its not likely to get many votes. Pirate Life, who polled very well, held approximately 140 events in the last few months of 2015.
Brew what people like to drink. We love Barrel Aged Stouts and the like but the reality is Pale Ales and IPAs are the beers that people enjoy. It’s what voters will be drinking the most of and as a result will be the styles that dominate the top 10.
Release Dates. A limited release beer that is released at the start of the year is less likely to poll than a new beer released at the end of the year.
Social media/marketing presence. Beers that have a greater social media/marketing presence will poll better. Some brewers spruik better than others.
Fundamentally, a broad public vote is a popularity vote based on a number of factors. To be honest we don’t really mind the big craft brewers placing as it means less people are drinking VB and Toohey’s Extra Dry and more people are drinking “gateway” craft beers.