Some celebrations call for a special beer. And some special beers call for a celebration. Here is a list of some top notch Australian and New Zealand beers that I consider worth putting away for a special occasion, or making a special occasion out of.
Big black boozy hoppy. There’s just a lot going on with this beer from one of Australia’s best and most creative producers of specials and one-offs, but somehow it all works. Bottled in a 750ml bomber and released annually as a different version, the latest 8.0 has just dropped, weighing in at 11.5% abv and with a whiskey addition it’s a beast of a beer.
The darling of beer geeks, NSW’s Wildflower Brewing & Blending have risen to prominence with their lovingly created funky beers. The hype around them is not misplaced, with a brewer who is passionate about his craft, and beers like this one that are complex and interesting but also clean and refreshing. They number each blend of their Gold beer as it’s never exactly the same but is blended to a similar style and is a worthy drop to match any occasion.
Australia’s most renowned special occasion beer you could say. It’s the top rated Australian beer on RateBeer. The beer has had its own celebration, Ramjet Day, and is a brilliant local example of the big barred-aged imperial stouts, that are so celebrated in the US.
The Mountie, a big maple syrup infused imperial stout and 2017 GABS People’s Choice Award winner is a lovely beer with a big aroma that is worth seeking out and savouring. They’ve just released another batch for the 2018 winter. Also check out Stockade’s Old Money as a good example of a local take on the bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout that has been popularised in the US by the likes of Founders and Goose Island.
Pretty much any beer from La Sirene feels like it’s a cause for celebration. This sweet rich chocolate-y beer, former winner of GABS People’s Choice, is simply decadent. At one point they even sold it in a 1.5L magnum for an even bigger celebration.
Holgate Wild Red
Flanders red ale is a brilliant style that combines some of rich malty flavours of a red ale and the complexity of a sour. When blended well, it’s a treat to behold, and this beer from veteran Victorian brewery has been consistently lauded by the likes of the Crafty Pint. No word on the 2018 release yet. In the meantime, you can also check out their Sour Brett, which is one of the best sour beers going around.
I don’t have a lot of IPAs on this list as generally you want to drink them fresh and quick rather store and save for an occasion, and also they generally invite easy drinking at any time. But this is a special kind of IPA. It gets its own day for release every year that is known as Tusk Day with the intention of it being drunk on the day at its freshest. It’s currently the top ranked Australian beer on Untappd. If you can’t match this to an occasion, make it an occasion. Look out for word of the next Tusk Day around April.
One of Australia’s most expensive beers but also a veteran of this category. Although there are more affordable beers of the same variety now available, it remains an impressive beer and experience to drink, ranking third recently on Beer Cartel’s top 50 Australian beers list. Heavy and rich and served in a big bottle, it’s not recommended you drink this on your own.
Most Two Birds beers are hard to fault and generally close to style, but this one is a little more left of field. A blond ale aged in French Oak barrels that were filled with red wine, the effect is a rich and rewarding beer that is complex and flavoursome but really pleasant to drink. Pretty reasonably priced too at around $15 for a 500ml.
Garage Project Hops on Pointe
I could choose from many Garage Project beers which would be worth hanging onto but this one, a pilsener with a champagne yeast, stands out for its uniqueness and for its affinity with a style of drink known for marking a celebration. Served in cans and reasonably priced but a little bit special too. Keep an eye out for the next batch to wash up on Australian shores.
I enjoyed this one at Good Beer Week and it stood out among the many beers I consumed for its balance of complexity and drinkability. The complex barrel-aged brett-innoculated farmhouse-style beer is exactly my kind of thing. In a big 750ml bottle, a perfect beer to accompany special occasions.
Anything from 8 Wired is a must-have in my books. They are probably the highest ceiling brewer in this part of the world as evidenced by their multiple appearances in RateBeer’s Top 100 Brewers in the World. Their latest release Once Upon A Time In Blenheim was aged in barrels for over 3 years. If the brewer sets the beer aside for that long, it’s a good sign that it’s the kind of beer you’ll also want to set aside for a special occasion.