We've completed our look back at the year just gone via 2016's Best New Beers (according to our panels, at least) and had a look at what the year ahead may hold. But, as the craft beer world prepares to launch into another big year, we've got one more reflective post for you.
This time, we take a look beyond the new beers released in 2016 to pull together a selection of the most read stories – plus a few of our other favourites – published on The Crafty Pint in 2016. As one might expect, articles that bear any passing resemblance to a list, such as the results of the AIBAs and Craft Beer Awards, feature heavily in the upper reaches of the most read articles so we've filtered some of those out; while the human desire to consume lists and ratings is really quite insatiable, we prefer to focus on telling stories and addressing issues here, after all.
So, if you fancy a spot of reminiscing, or want to fill in some gaps in your craft beer reading, click on the headers to view the stories, load up your reading list and enjoy!
The year’s first major feature on different aspects of the beer industry shone a light on hops, in particular some of the issues facing brewers. In this Big Issue, four Australian hop growers, suppliers and brewers discussed impending local hop shortages and offered advice for future proofing beer recipes.
A new feature in 2016 saw us invite brewers to tell us about the creation of some iconic Australian beers. The series launched with the story behind Feral’s Watermelon Warhead, the 2.9 percent ABV barrel aged watermelon sour that began as a counter-attacking weapon in the hoppy arms race and went on to be named Champion Australian Craft Beer, before going on to feature Boatrocker's Ramjet later in the year.
Ahead of hosting a startup panel during Good Beer Week, we published a two part feature on how to start a brewery. Part I was from the perspective of five existing brewers, including two new breweries, one gypsy brewer and two industry veterans. Part II looked at things from the other side, with a publican, sales rep, contract brewing company owner, ingredient supplier and a lawyer offering insights from their respective perspectives.
As education starts to play an increasingly important part in the growth of the Australian craft beer industry, a clutch of people from across the industry – and one from outside it – have raced out of the blocks to achieve Certified Cicerone® status qualified beer experts. Look out for more people embarking on this program started by Ray Daniels (above) in the US and more opportunities for you to get involved in 2017 too.
Another new feature in 2016, this series sees Crafty Pint contributors in each state put on their travelling shoes and embark on self-guided day trips through some of the best brewery, bar and bottleshop localities in the land. What began in Melbourne with a trip on the 86 Tram has covered ground from Geelong to Sydney to Perth. And there’s plenty more crawling to be done yet…
If you've ever enjoyed yourself at Good Beer Week, there’s a good chance Kate Paterson was as least partly responsible. She is one of the festival's founder members and, for the past few years, its general manager and driving force. Her appearance in our semi-regular Craft Beer Heroes section proved a popular choice with readers on the eve of the 2016 event.
Our regular blind tasting features didn't appear on the site quite as regularly as we might have liked in 2016. But, when our panels did come together – twice for IPAs (as there are so many of them these days) and then to revisit saisons – there were surprises a-plenty and some promising signs that the quality of beer is on an upwards trajectory.
Prior to the results of any blind tasting being published, The Crafty Pint’s resident Beer Scholar puts together a piece covering the history of the style, none better than his full cavity search on the much discussed and colourful story of India Pale Ale.
While The Crafty Pint is mainly concerned with what’s happening in Australia, there are fascinating stories right across the wider beer world and, in 2016, we posted dispatches from New Zealand to Iceland, Japan to Denmark, as well as launching the Aussie Exports series that focuses on Australians (and, sometimes, honorary Australians) doing cool things in beer overseas. With a regular NZ contributor joining the crew in 2017, we hope to bring you even more colour from the wider craft beer world.
Ever wondered what it’s really like to work in the world of beer? Plenty did and they got some honest answers when we launched our new A Day In The Life series exploring different sides of the industry. You can read them all here but the day most readers enjoyed was one spent in the passenger seat alongside Temple sales rep Dave Myers.
After Little Creatures was sold to Lion, many speculated that their flagship beer – one likely to be responsible for turning more Australians onto craft beer than any other contemporary – wasn't what it once was. That the Pale Ale had seen its recipe tinkered with and was a shadow of the beer it once was. We asked head brewer Russell Gosling (pictured above) whether there was any truth to it and he responded with some of the most insightful and colourful answers to have been published on this site in the past year. Whether the doubters believed his assurances is a debatable but it proved one of the most read and discussed articles of the year.
Despite so much emphasis on Big Data these days, the craft beer industry currently has very little of it to call on, particularly when it comes to what drinkers think. The team at Sydney bottleshop Beer Cartel decided to do something about it and managed to get more than 7,000 responses to its Australian Craft Beer Survey.
Around halfway through the year, the craft beer rumour mill began spinning so fast that the wheels nearly flew off: word on the street was that the independent, family-owned 4 Pines was about to be sold to one of the multinational brewers. It didn't quite turn out that way.
With a lofty goal to become the grit in the oyster of Orbost, one where all the other shit builds around them, Chris and Gab Moore launched Sailors Grave Brewing in an old butter factory in rural Victoria and set about trying to win over locals with, among other things, a gose made with local seaweed and packaged in cans covered in artwork by a children's illustrator.
The rise of gose, an obscure German beer style that had all but disappeared, is one of the more surprising trends of the Aussie craft beer scene in the past year or so. But then you only need to try some of the lovely local interpretations being produced to see why it’s carving out a tidy little niche.
Everyone loves a list and none more so than this one counting down Australia’s favourite beers, as voted by drinkers across the country. 2015 was the year in which a seemingly unbreakable top three got hijacked by pirates, opening the door for all possibilities for the next countdown.
You can vote for your five favourites from 2016 here – voting closes January 20, 2017.
If you like what you've read, sign up to receive our free weekly email every Friday as we'll have plenty more where this came from in 2017.