We should probably start the year by publishing a forward looking article, but we've still got our final Best New Beers of 2015 piece to run. This time it comes from Queensland where, after a few aborted attempts to pull together a panel featuring some of Brisbane's bloggers, our main man in the state, Darren "250 Beers" Magin (below left) sat down with his Newstead colleague, the brewery's co-owner and head brewer Mark Howes (below right) and beer lover Luke Shield. Well, when we say "sat down" they actually took their decision making on the road.
However it happened, they came up with the ten below. What with both of them working at Newstead, Darren and Mark were reluctant to include any of their brewery's beers for fear of accusations of home ground bias, but Luke insisted they at least allow one, in this case one of their many collaborations.
Other than that, the beers chosen are selected to the same requirements as the other lists – check them all here – all new in 2015 (or a new version or vintage of a previous beer) and brewed by a brewery or brewing company based in the state (either alone or in collaboration with someone else).
And here's what Darren has to say of them...
We drew up a lengthy list of all Queensland breweries and brewing companies and then wrote our favourite corresponding beers next to each one. It was a long, long list of beers so we decided to head out on a pub crawl to deliberate and whittle the list down – over some beers.
We started at Newstead Brewing Co then visited Hipwood Brewery at the International Hotel before venturing to Brisbane Brewing Co, Archive and then Brewski. By the end of the night we’d consumed and talked enough beer to last an entire year, which seems entirely appropriate.
In no particular order, here goes with our standout releases from Queensland in 2015…
Bacchus Brewing Co – Islay Reserve (Single Malt) (15.2 percent ABV)
Pushing the boundaries as usual, Bacchus came up trumps with a belter. Aged in Octomore Islay whisky barrels this 100 percent peated malt beer is deep, warm and complex. Smoother than a baby’s bottom.
White Lies Brewing – Hefeweizen (4.8 percent ABV)
The Hefe was a unanimous pick due to it being bang on style. None of the traditional banana or clove characteristics were overbearing – just a clever, subtle and well-rounded hefeweizen.
Green Beacon Brewing Co – Scrimshaw IPA (6.0 percent ABV)
Lots of amazing IPAs made our original list but Beacon’s Scrimshaw was always destined to make the final cut. With aromas of tropical fruit and spices followed by an abundance of citrus fruit flavours, Scrimshaw showcased our Aussie hops like never before in an IPA. The epitome of a “solid Aussie IPA”.
Brisbane Brewing Co – Coco Loco Porter (5.8 percent ABV)
A choc-chilli porter? Yessir. Again, a unanimous pick from all three of us. There’s some amazing things happening out of BBCo and this beer was no exception. A heavenly cocoa rich, roasty porter with the gentle kick up the ass of a chlili tang. It worked and it worked well.
Brisbane Brewing Co – Gnarley Wine (11.6 percent ABV)
We tried hard to avoid a brewery having two beers being represented but it happened. We whittled down our shortlist to ten and couldn’t leave out BBCo’s take on an English barley wine. Its malty body was big, there was no obvious sign of the huge alcohol content and ultimately it was darn tasty. Rad even. Maybe gnarley.
4 Hearts Brewing – Coal Miners Stout (6.6 percent ABV)
Wade Curtis’ mainstay stout has gone from strength to strength and now sits as a firm favourite amongst many. The balance between bitterness and sweet malt is exceptional with the roasted coffee and dark chocolate notes rounding the experience off nicely. Long may this stout exist!
Black Hops Brewing – Midnight Pale Ale (4.8 percent ABV)
Sifting through the amazing media attention that this beer garnered for the Black Hops boys, we found a pale ale that was both light in aroma yet full bodied and full flavoured. Crisp, piney and grassy and with roasted wheat to darken the appearance, this beer was the result of a large scale operation turned good.
Croft Brewing Co – Light Stalker Golden IPA (7.0 percent ABV)
An undoubted success story, Light Stalker was one of the first beers to make our shortlist. A ridiculously clean and moreish golden IPA with watermelon and rosewater notes. Gavin Croft has the ability of being able to execute his beery concepts and visions perfectly. More of this please, Gavin!
Croft Brewing Co / Newstead Brewing Co collab – Fear and Loathing Golden Sour Ale (5.8 percent ABV)
The third in the collaborative series of kettle sours between Croft Brewing and NBCo, this was the favourite of many – ours too. Single hopped with Cascade and with only a mild sourness wrapped in lemony grapefruit, this subtle sour need not be feared. Or loathed.
Brewtal Brewers – Jack the RIIPA (6.7 percent ABV)
This imperial red IPA has always been a hit but the latest, most recent batch was outstanding. Deep, dark and dank. So much big hops, so much bitter. A masterpiece and a reflection of brewer Tim’s dedication. A bloody RIIPA.
Thanks, Queensland crew. With our rundown complete, don't forget (if you haven't already) to vote in the GABS (née Local Taphouse) Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers poll here.