Best Australian Brewers Power Rankings

Who would you rate as Australia’s best brewers? This is the question that I’m answering on a regular basis with these Power Rankings that break down the best brewers in Australia.

I determine the best brewers based on a criteria of:

  • Quality of core range/go-to beers
  • Quality of seasonal and one-off beers
  • Good breadth and diversity of beer styles produced
  • Creativity and innovation in the beers produced
  • Availability of beers across Australia

December 2016 Power rankings for the best brewer in Australia

My latest subjective ranking of Australia’s best brewers with their previous ranking in brackets.

10. tied (new) 4 Pines / Murrays

4 Pines continue to grow and expand as one of Australia’s biggest independent craft brewers. They also make really good beer that is accessible anywhere. Their Amber Ale, brewed with a healthy amount of the excellent Mosaic hop, was their best core beer yet. While I may not rush to get their one-offs, they produce good beers in a wide range of styles.

I also had to have Murrays on this list after they returned to form in a big way this year. They seemed to have dropped off the craft beer radar a bit but really came back to form this year with their special releases including Thunderbolt IPA that won Crafty Pint’s blind tasting, Coffee Wild Thing (see above) and Skully, a Red IPA.

9. (10) Wayward 

I was stoked to visit their premises in Annandale this year and sample more of their impressive range. I’m yet to have a bad beer from these guys and they have a great variety of beers beyond just pale ales.Their Fat Charmer, a bigger version of their classic Charmer Red Ale, was a highlight for its flavour and drinkability at the NSW Pint of Origin, while I also enjoyed their tart Sourpuss raspberry Berliner Weisse and dry fruity Saison. They’ve also started bottling this year so we should more of their core range.

8. (9) Bacchus Brewing 

My wish came true and we’re seeing more and more of their beers available in good beer stores. They became the first two-time People’s Choice GABS winners with their win at this year’s festival with the Peanut Brittle Gose that was another desser-like beer – sweet with a salty finish in a unique take on the style.

7. (4) Holgate

Their Flanders Red ale has received quite the praise from Crafty Pint and their barrel-aged stout also had some good wraps. I enjoyed their Tangelo Gose and these craft beer vets showed that they are still among the best in the business.

6. (6) Mornington Peninsula

I was really impressed by the range this year. Nothing too crazy but a good range of different styles released regularly and all done well. I mentioned A nice complement to one of the best core ranges in the business.

4. (7) Pirate Life

Another big year for Pirate Life, quickly moving up these rankings and set to be one of the top performers again in the Hottest 100. Their Triple IPA at GABS delighted the punters with the best rating on Untappd and they turned out a good range of beers this year. I was most impressed by their stout, particularly as it was the first beer of theirs I’d had that wasn’t hop-focused.

4. (5) La Sirene

La Sirene is all class. Their beers are always well-made, complex and intriguing. Their Avant Garde series met a lot of praise (and had beautiful labels), while their Urban Pale was a great first example of them bringing their farmhouse-style beers to a wider audience.

3. (3) Bridge Road

Continue to pump out creative beers that push the envelope and bring Australia craft beer forward. The Mayday Hills range, featuring a huge wooden barrel innoculated with brett yeast is the latest example of that. While I also found their duo of Biere De Wilde beers featuring wild yeasts from different winemakers intriguing and tasty.

2. (2) Boatrocker

The barrel program continues to be a success and produce high-quality beers that are unmatched in Australia. Ramjet once again impressed as one of Australia’s best beers, big and flavoursome and balanced, while the Dark Saison was probably my favourite beer this year from them. They are breathing down the neck of Feral at no. 1.

1. (1) Feral

A relatively quiet year in my books from Australia’s best brewer but they still have a great core range of beers complemented by a variety of excellent limited releases. It seems that many agree with me on their ranking as Beer Cartel’s industry survey also had them in the top spot. Look forward to seeing what they do after moving to a new brewery with greater capacity this year.

Wrapping up the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular aka GABS 2015

Australia’s biggest beer festival again took over Melbourne’s iconic Exhibition Building for three days with more than 16,000 people attending and 300,000 tasters being poured, before taking its act to Sydney for another full day. I was fortunate enough to attend  all 3 days of the event in Melbourne, taking to chance to talk to soak in GABS’s unique atmosphere, talk to the people behind the beers, and taste a bucketload of beers.


Read More »

Australian Craft Beer Hits a Sour Note

Sour beers are a logical next step for the craft beer scene in Australia. For the adventurous beer drinkers in search of new tastes, the more extreme and complex tasting sour beers hit just the right note.

The Crafty Pint has already suggested that 2013 may be the year of the sour, as did Brews News in their interesting rundown of sours in Australia.

So perhaps Carwyn Cellars got in early by kicking off their 2013 tastings with 8 sour beers from across the world.Read More »

Rethinking American beer

Everyone around the world loves to give the Yanks a hard time about, well, just about anything they can. And the American often oblige the rest of the world, by making themselves a target for mockery. And so it has been in the world of beer, where their biggest exports have been those horrible watery lagers Bud and Miller. But while these are the beers by which the USA is widely known, and rightly mocked, to judge the US by these beers is folly, when they have so much to offer.

The casual beer drinker may not realise that the US of A is in fact leading the way when it comes to craft beer with a huge number of microbreweries all over the country that are pumping out great, great beers. If you don’t believe me just check out the makeup of the Map of the Top 100 breweries around the world, according to beer peer review site RateBeer.

One of the reasons that the international beer drinking community has been slow to realise that the USA is the place for beer, is the limited access to American craft beers abroad. While top-notch European beers can be found around the globe, the independent nature of the US microbreweries and their strong local focus, has meant that their best beers often haven’t been available outside of the States.

This is changing though with sales of American craft beer in Europe exploding, and Australians also gaining more regular access to American beers, through craft beer outlets importing the likes of Brooklyn Brewery, and even Dan Murphy’s now importing  Ballast Point and Karl Strauss beers.

The American craft beers become available here, the more Australian beer drinkers will be forced to change their perception of American beer and recognise that the quality and variety of beers available in the Land of the Stars and Stripes is second to none.

Could James Squire turn more drinkers towards craft beer?

With the current James Squire advertising blitz, suddenly a ‘craft beer’ range is plastered all over city billboards and bus and tram stops. It is the kind of advertising campaign that a microbrewery could never afford, but could it open more drinkers’ eyes to new tastes and craft beer?

My favourite part of the campaign is the “Man of Many Tastes” line with a picture of the full range of James Squire beers. To me, this shows that Lion are not trying to create a “VB 2.0” but are promoting their range of beers and, importantly, their different beer styles.

Converting Australian beer drinkers from ‘mass-produced lager’ to better beer is a challenge. Dark beers and hoppy beers can be particularly scary to those who think that all beer is golden-coloured and flavourless, and this is where the James Squire range, which includes a Porter and an IPA, may be able to expose more drinkers to different styles of beer and introduce them to new tastes.Read More »

2012 Beers are a Changin’ Awards (aka the Oscars of Beer Awards)

Bear Republic and Green Flash – Unofficial Sponsors of the Evening

Welcome to the 2012 inaugral Beers are a Changin’ Awards. After deriding the pointlessness of beer lists, I thought I would establish my own subjective, unofficial and entirely random beer awards. You know, because that’s so much more meaningful than a list.

So join me on a metaphorical amber carpet that’s sticky, wet and stained by malty liquid substances.

The sponsors for this night of nights is Bear Republic and Green Flash (they were the beers in my fridge).

The host is, thanks to tonight’s sponsors, inebriated and ready to roll. The host may refer to himself in the third person tonight to confer a greater sense of authority upon his made-up awards, which have been carefully voted on by the Beer Geeks Academy (of which the host is the one and only member).

Without further ado,

The Award for the Best Brewery

The nominees are:

  • Murrays Brewing
  • Feral
  • Bridge Road
  • Mountain Goat

The envelope please…. and the winner is…Read More »

Our Love For Bitter

“Humans are the only species that enjoys bitter taste. Every other species is averse to bitter because it means bad news. But we have learned to enjoy it”.

So says Charles Zuker, a neuroscientist at the University of California School of Medicine at San Diego. “We drink coffee, which is bitter, and quinine [in tonic water] too,” he adds. We also enjoy beer too, I might add Mr. Zuker.

For many, drinking beer is not a case of love at first sip but a love that blossoms over time. It is an ‘acquired taste’, which means that as humans as we mature we desire more complexity of taste and ‘train’ ourselves to overcome any biological aversion to bitterness. In recent years, there has been renewed love for bitter tastes as part of our growing passion for complex tastes in gourmet food, coffee, and beer.

Read More »