2012 – a good year for Australian beer?

2012 didn’t feel like a watershed year for craft beer as much as just another step forward, more of an evolution than a revolution, and perhaps that’s a sign of how far things have come.

While this blog focused more on his beer drinking experiences abroad in 2012, both in the teeny-weeny beer market of the USA and that famous craft beer mecca of Vanuatu (or is that the other way round?), there were plenty of good beers to be enjoyed and good places to drink in Australia too.

Here are ten things I loved about Australian craft beer in 2012:

  1. The new location for the best bottlestore in the land, Slowbeer, was a winner. With an ever-intriguing rotation of beers now available in-store from the taps, and  their usual abundantly stocked beer shelves, this place has became even more of a must-visit craft beer destination.
  2. Microbreweries like Mornington Peninsula expanded their ranges and produced a broader range of styles available on good bottlestore shelves. The days of microbreweries being overly reliant on hoppy Pale Ales seem to be behind us.
  3. Canine-inspired breweries such as Hop Dog produced exciting and creative nanobatches of beer that delighted the tastebuds and catered to the more experimental beer drinkers out there.
  4. The Great Australian Beer Spectapular event ramped up this year to become a truly massive Trans-tasman beer festival packed with new and creative beers. This year I plan to be in the country so I can join in the fun.
  5. International collaborations were popular, particularly with the Scandinavians who seemed to be over here brewing every other day such was their output  – a good thing as far as I’m concerned. The best one may have been Mountain Goat and Mikkeller with their Black Pepperberry IPA, which ranked a surprising 5th in the Hottest 100 beer list and is ranked 6th in Australia on RateBeer.
  6. I’m prepared to declare 2012 the year of the saison. The emergent La Sirene produced a series of different saisons with the Wild Saison probably their best. After opening their new brewery and bar in Brunswick, Temple were again producing their magnificent Saison along with the Saison de Miel variation, to the delight of our tastebuds.
  7. The ‘big boys’ tried to join the craft beer party this year and while this has provoked plenty of debate, I’m going to take the beer half-full approach and say that this was ultimately a good thing. The likes of James Squire will expose more drinkers to decent beer and microbreweries will push harder to distinguish themselves from the craft beer lites out there.
  8. More bottlestores have been joining the beer-veloution. I’ve noticed a big improvement in the northern suburbs of Melbourne for instance, where the likes of Prince Wine Store in Essendon and Carwyn Cellars in Thornbury are now offering growler fills of fresh craft beer and stocking a good range of beers.
  9. There are even more good blogs, good beer articles, and people discussing beer and spreading the word on good beers. All of which is a good thing in my book. I’ve enjoyed the down-to-earth beer writings at blogs like http://beerisyourfriend.wordpress.com and http://200differentbeersinunder2years.blogspot.com.au/
  10. I said last year that top beer lists are meaningless, but I concede that they are engaging and the Hottest 100 beer list has certainly become a point of interest for beer drinkers. Personally, I was very happy to see a great beer top the list this year in Feral’s Hop Hog and I’d like to think the results of the competition over the last few years show the maturing palates of the Aussie beer drinker – as we’ve gone from Little Creatures Pale Ale to Stone & Wood Pacific Ale to the Hop Hog.

Cheers to more good times ahead for Australian beer in 2013!

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