The rise of Queensland as a craft beer powerhouse, the increasing popularity of independently owned breweries, and the importance of ‘localism’ are some of the key trends revealed in Australia’s biggest craft beer poll.
Now in its eleventh year, the GABS Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers poll shines a powerful spotlight on the trends, brands and breweries shaping the booming craft beer industry. Described by Australian Brews News as”the largest and most influential people’s choice poll in the land,” the 2018 edition saw a record 31,000 beer lovers place more than 155,000 votes for their favourite craft beers of the year, then celebrate the live countdown on Sunday 27 January, many at the 45 official events held around the country.
From a field comprising some 2,350 beers from more than 260 breweries, Gold Coast brewery Balter claimed the title of Australia’s favourite craft beer for the second year running with their ‘XPA’ (Extra Pale Ale). Part-owned by champion surfers Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Josh Kerr and Bede Durbidge, Balter has proven to be a dominant force in the craft beer landscape, as evidenced with an impressive three beers in the top 10, including their IIPA (Double IPA) and IPA (India Pale Ale) in 6th & 7th position respectively.
Balter’s IIPA was one of 21 beers released in the last twelve months to make the list, demonstrating the impact that a popular release can have in the fast moving craft beer sector. The New England IPA, or ‘Hazy IPA’, style was prevalent amongst these new entries, and doubled its presence overall with beers including Hop Nation’s ‘Jedi Juice’ (#9), Dainton’s ‘Blood Orange New England Rye IPA’ (#36) and CoConspirators’ The Matriarch (#63).
In second position was Stone & Wood’s Pacific Ale. Celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2018, the iconic beer from Byron Bay has now appeared on the Hottest 100 podium for nine consecutive years, making it the most loved beer in the poll’s history. Also returning to the podium was Crankshaft from BentSpoke in third place, topping a charge of five beers from the popular Canberra brewery, all placing within the top quarter of the list.
Localism appears to be an influential factor throughout the results, with craft beer drinkers increasingly supporting beers and breweries from their immediate region. This year’s list features the very first Northern Territory brewery to appear, with fans and local media getting behind Darwin’s One Mile Brewery to rocket four of their beers into the big league. The Sunshine Coast also voted with a parochial view, elevating popular local breweries Your Mates, 10 Toes , and Brouhaha into the list, and regional NSW favourite The Welder’s Dog rallied strong support to place four of its beers, including the first ever Ginger Beer to make the Hottest 100.
On the broader scale, Queensland continues to emerge as a craft beer juggernaut, with 22 beers from nine breweries (up from 15 beers and 5 breweries in 2017). While New South Wales maintained its overall presence on the list (26 beers from 13 breweries), Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia dropped in representation from last year.
In May 2018, the Independent Brewers Association launched an ‘Independent Seal’ to help educate craft beer drinkers about brewery ownership. The campaign seems to have had an impact in this year’s Hottest 100, with 88 per cent of the beers listed made by independently owned breweries (up from 71 per cent in 2017). Lion owned ‘Furphy Refreshing Ale’ is the highest placed non-independent beer at #25, and was the only non-independent beer to improve its position on the previous year.
The results also show a strong resurgence from Coopers , South Australia’s oldest family owned brewery. In
2017, their ‘Sparkling Ale’ was the sole entry at #97. That beer made the biggest jump of this year’s list,moving 51 places to #46. In addition, their ‘Original Pale Ale’ came in at #17 and ‘Session Ale’ at #22.
Created by the team behind GABS Beer, Cider & Food Fest , The Local Taphouse , and Stomping Ground Brewing Co (the latter being ineligible for votes due to some common ownership), the GABS Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers poll is a proven sales driver for the craft beer industry, with many listed breweries enjoying a boost in brand awareness and sales, as retailers, bars and beer fans use the results when deciding what to buy.
On the remarkable growth of the poll, GABS Co-Founder Steve Jeffares stated “I think it’s just become this wonderful tradition that’s grown alongside the craft beer industry, allowing beer lovers to reflect on their favourite beers of the year and give a vote to the brewers who made them. With breweries opening in all corners of the country, pushing the boundaries of style, technique and creativity, there’s really never been a better time to be a craft beer drinker.”
“And with such a huge number of votes behind it, this year’s list is again very revealing about what people are drinking and enjoying, whether that’s a more mainstream Pale Ale or a Strawberry Rhubarb Sour from their favourite Sunshine Coast local”.
- More than 2,350 beers nominated (from 260 breweries) in the poll
- Record 31,000 votes received and 155,000+ individual beer votes
- 45 events held at bars, brewpubs and craft beer venues around Australia to celebrate the countdown
- 46 brewers are represented in the list
- Balter (QLD) and Capital (ACT) share the most beers in the list with six each
- BentSpoke (ACT) and Young Henrys (NSW) each have five beers in the list
State by State
- ACT: 11 beers from two breweries
- NSW: 26 beers from 13 breweries
- QLD: 22 beers from nine breweries
- SA: nine beers from three breweries
- VIC: 19 beers from 13 breweries
- WA: 6 beers from three breweries
- WA/VIC: three beers from two breweries