Hot spot 1: Sydney’s inner west
One of the more exciting developments for me in 2015, was both watching from afar and seeing firsthand, the development of the Sydney beer scene. Long the straggler in Australian craft beer, it may now be the leader, as brewery after brewery opened their doors and started pouring awesome beers.
And the hottest of the hot spots in Sydney is the inner west where Willie the Boatman, Wayward Brewing, Akasha and Grifter have all opened breweries in recent months. They join established breweries of Newtown vets Young Henrys, as well as 2014 opened breweries from Batch Brewing and Rocks Brewing.
It’s great that all of these breweries include bars, allowing the breweries to build a strong connection to their local community. They are making seriously good beers and I would love to see more these guys’ beers all around Australia.
Some of my favourite beers in 2015 came from this group, including:
- Wayward’s Charmer India Red Ale – This beer is strong, malty, hoppy, what more could you want.
- Young Henrys’ Stupid Sexy Flanders – A great name and label and an even better taste. A limited release sour beer that benefited from the addition of a heap of local cherries and was very drinkable.
- Batch Brewing’s Elsie Milk Stout – on nitro at the great Surry Hills bar, Keg & Brew, this was creamy and chocolaty goodness in a glass.
Hot spot 2: Adelaide
Adelaide had been conspicuously quiet in its craft beer development but that changed with the Big Shed Brewing Concern opening up a brewery at Royal Park and Pirate Life beer launching onto the scene, while others like Mismatch and The Wheaty Brewing Corps are also making some noise.
With the wineries in the area and the gourmet culture it also seems like a no-brainer that craft beer would catch on around South Australia and not far from the city you can fid Smiling Samoyed, Prancing Pony, Barossa Brewing, Clare Valley brewing, and Lobethal Bierhaus all producing some interesting beers that are worth seeking out too.
I visited Adelaide and sampled some wares and was impressed by the beers on offer, three of my favourites were:
- Pirate Life Pale Ale – the pale ale style had become stale in Australia until these guys breathed new life into it with a fresh hoppy taste that stands out from the pack. They’re now the top rated brewery on Untappd in Australia!
- Big Shed Frankenbrown – Made a splash with their Golden Stout Time at GABS, which perfectly mimicked the Golden Gaytime icecream with its chocolate and honeycomb flavours, but this American Brown Ale impressed me with its depth of flavour and drinkability.
- Mismatch Archie’s Red Ale – A sessionable red ale with a focus on the malt flavours. With a new brewery on the cards for 2016, this is one to look out for.
Hot spot 3: Melbourne’s South East
The north has long been the hub of craft beer in Melbourne and long shall it remain but it was great to see the development of an area that in the past would have been considered a bit of a craft beer desert – Melbourne’s south east.
This development was led by the launch of Boatrocker Brewery’s barrel room, already housing experimental and high quality beers that beer geeks like me are fawning over. While the industrial suburb of Braeside may not have been high on anyone’s list of places to visit before, that has quickly changed.
Two Brothers have long flown the flag as a quality brewery in Moorabbin, but in addition there’s brewpub Bad Shepherd in nearby Cheltenham and the impressive Dainton family brewing is on the way to Carrum Downs.
Kaiju/Exit brewing have started up in Dandenong too, although unfortunately they’re not open to the public. Expect more good things to come from this area in 2016.
- Boatrocker Gaston – A complex beer that is strong, tart, sour and refreshing, it’s quite the beer and an exciting sign of things to come from the barrel room.
- Boatrocker Ramjet – another Boatrocker beer for good measure, using Starward whiskey barrels for ageing their imperial stout. The number 1 rated beer on RateBeer and Untappd in Australia!
- Two Brothers HazElla – This was one of the most interesting beers at GABS 2015 with the hazelnuts coming through clearly in this imperial brown ale.