My last post dealt with great ‘gateway’ beers for introducing drinkers to new styles and leading them towards bigger and bolder beers. In this post I look at the next beers that drinkers might progress to. Starting with a ‘gateway’ beer, each further beer step represents an increase in the challenge presented to the beer drinker, taking into account factors like costs and the alc.%, but mostly the beer’s bitterness, flavour and complexity.
One could always argue with my order (please do), and the path to better beer drinking is rarely linear (nor should it be) but hopefully these lists can provide a pathway that may guide a beer drinker as they seek out bolder beers. Also, these are all terrific beers.
The pale ale has become the standard style produced in Australian craft beer. It is a logical first step forward for mass-lager drinkers and there are many choices for the beer drinker now in terms of good local pale ales. There are also more challenging Indian Pale Ales (IPA) to progress towards but can take one a little while to become accustomed to the strong aromas and bitterness associated with such highly hopped beers, so here’s a few easy steps. Most Australian pales ales are in the American-style, hop-forward rather than malt-forward and you are likely to find an array of floral and fruity aromas, and maybe some grass and pine.
1. Moo Brew Pale
I initially had this as a ‘gateway’ beer but after drinking it again, I bumped it up a step, as this one has a fair whack of hops.
3. Feral Hop Hog IPA
This may just be my favourite go-to Australian beer. A champion beer and the perfect intro to IPAs.
4. Jamiesons Beast IPA
Recently drank and thought this may be the best IPA in Australia. Not just your standard fruity hops aromatics but also piney notes, marmalade even. A beast of a beer.
5. 8 Wired Hopwired IPA
You can smell this one coming with huge aromas of tropical fruits. This is the most exciting brewery out there to my mind but also check out Epic’s Armageddon and Hop Zombie, more hugely hopped beers from world-class breweries just across the Tasman.
I’m mixing styles and countries here with this list of Belgian witbiers and German hefeweizens, but I feel like these two styles are comparable in the way that they both can be very approachable and sessionable, yet offer up some intriguing flavours. Aromas you are likely to find in these styles include: coriander, orange peel, bubble gum, and candy.
1. Feral White
Not Feral’s best or most interesting beer but a sessionable and solid one with some subtle coriander and orange peel flavours.
2. Burleigh Brewing Hefeweizen
It’s hard for Australian brewers to measure up to German brewers who have been producing the style for hundreds of years but this is a valiant attempt with a strong bananas aroma.
3. Hitachino White
The Japanese craft brewer ramp up the flavour and deliver a particularly tasty and complex version of the Belgian witbier.
4. Hoegaarden Grand Cru
Many Aussie drinkers are familiar with the White, as a cloudy, refreshing full-flavoured beer but how about trying its bolder sibling the Grand Cru, which is a kind of cross between a witbier and a Belgian strong ale.
5. Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen
The oldest continuous commercial brewery in the World set a gold standard and this beer is unlikely to disappoint. Also try their dunkel, a dark wheat beer.
English bitters mostly bring a focus on the malt characteristics so you might find sweetness, caramel, toffee and bready flavours. These are some particularly good interpretations of the style.
1. Murrays Punch & Judy Ale
Punch & Judy packs a lot of punch for a low abv (3.9%). Not a traditional bitter as there is a fair whack of fruity hops aromas in it.
2. Holgate ESB
Particularly great on hand pump at the Royston or the brewery, has a sweet caramel taste and goes down nicely on a cold night.
3. 3 Ravens USB
This seasonal went down a treat, an amped up version of their English ale with more malt and higher abv.
4. Mountain Goat Double Hightail Ale
Doubled up on their flagship hightail ale to great results. Hoppy but there’s the malt characteristics of caramel and toffee too.
5. Fuller’s ESB
Bitters are an English style so we to return to the source country, where Fuller’s is one of the most highly regarded.
Lagers can be tasty as well. These ones utilise the crisp clean characteristics of the lager yeast but don’t sacrifice on taste, employing various hops and malts to give the drinker a satisfying lager experience that will have them pouring their cartons on VB down the drain.
1. Boatrocker Hoppbier Beer Garden Pilsner
Really like what these guys have done here, an interesting lager with fruity new-world hops. This one was a Gold medal winner at AIBA 2011.
2. Red Hill Bohemian Pilsener
Some Red Hill beers are a little too smooth for my liking, but this one hits the spot, and is a good shot at the Czech-style beer.
3. Rogue Hop Harringtons
Impressed by this one at the last Taphouse SpecTAPular, which has added some NZ hops to the traditional pilsener but maintains a nice crisp and bitter finish.
4. Brooklyn Lager
My favourite lager right now, malty, hoppy, a bit of spice and goes well with most food (particularly curries, stir-fries).
5. Emersons Pilsener
They set a high standard across the Tasman. This is one lager worth going out of your way to drink.
In my next post, I’ll look at some more challenging beer styles, with five steps to Beer Nirvana for Amber/Brown Ales, Belgian Ales, and Porters/Stouts.