We have a new number one! After two years in the hottest of hot seats, Stone & Wood Pacific Ale has stepped aside and Balter XPA, brewed just a short drive up the coast, has taken top spot after debuting at number four last year.
It's yet another triumph for the Gold Coast brewery that launched with quite the fanfare thanks to its quartet of famous surfing co-owners but which has since become known in beer circles as much for the quality of its beers, taking home trophy after trophy for its beers and as a brewery too.
The tenth running of the GABS Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers attracted another record vote – we're told it's up 33 percent on 2016 although total votes are being kept close to the organisers' collective chest. Once more, hop forward beers dominated, while the march of beers in cans shows no sign of slowing, the geographical spread across Australia of beers in the 100 continued and NEIPAs made their expected impact – and then some – with seven in the top 100, including Hop Nation's Jedi Juice at number eight.
The Gold Coast's brewers recorded a staggering ten beers in the top 100, while ACT scored seven, including BentSpoke's Crankshaft in number three.
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The Hottest 100
With growing focus on ownership and independence in the local craft beer world, it was interesting to note that the three most recent big brewery acquisitions, 4 Pines, Feral and Pirate Life, all saw their highest ranked beer appear lower than last year, although with seven beers in the top 100 – more than any other – there was plenty of cause for celebration for South Australia's Pirate Life.
More than 2,000 beers were nominated in total by more than 250 brewing companies in a poll that H100 founder Steve Jeffares described as "possibly one of the most exciting yet."
Of the poll's growth from a bit of fun at his first pub to a national event, Steve says: "To be honest, it's hard for [business partner] Guy [Greenstone] and I to fathom how a poll that started at The Local Taphouse ten years ago as an impromptu and fun 'beer' riff on Triple J's Hottest 100 has grown to be celebrated, and in some quarters furiously debated, by so many beer fans around the country.
"I believe that the last decade will go down in history as a golden era for beer in Australia and looking back over a decade of Hottest 100 poll results – and Crafty Pint infographics! – gives a fascinating insight into each year's trendsetting breweries, beers and styles. The most satisfying thing for me personally about the GABS Hottest 100 is hearing from so many people seeking out beers on the lists they haven't tried before.
"With Stomping Ground now taking up an increasing amount of our time, Craig Williams (GABS Event Director) deserves credit for helping us take both the festivals and Hottest 100 to the next level." (At Crafty Pint, we'll second that – as much as anything for the messages of reassurance we've been sending back and forth over the past few days of insanity!)
When asked about highlights or surprises from this year's poll, Steve says: "I was expecting the New England IPA craze to impact the results this year but I was surprised as many as seven made the list. That one of them – Hop Nation's Jedi Juice, launched as a GABS 2017 Festival Beer - made the top 10 was especially gratifying.
"Pirate Life's GABS Festival Beer Vanilla Malt Thickshake made my personal top five this year but I am always very impressed when one-off beers like that, which are available for such a brief time, make the list. And the likes of Thirsty Crow's Vanilla Milk Stout again polling well against the tsunami of hoppy beers deserves plenty of plaudits."
In terms of this year's biggest climbers, they are:
- Akasha Hopsmith IPA – up 46
- KAIJU! Krush – up 45
- Bridge Road Brewers Bling IPA – up 44
- Gage Roads Single Fin – up 21
- Green Beacon Windjammer IPA – up 20
- Nail Brewing VPA – up 18
- Modus Operandi Session IPA – up 14