What a year it’s been. While much of the rest of the world has been at war, suffering from natural disaster, rioting or waiting for its economy to implode, craft beer in Australia has gone from strength to strength. Existing breweries are expanding at a rate of knots, newcomers are arriving on the scene every month, beer quality is rising and experimentation is frequently the name of the day.
We’ve seen international collaborations, craft beer (or Good Beer) weeks in several cities plus plenty of other festivals from Toowoomba to Tassie and increasing recognition that something is going on from the media too.
Of course, it’s not all been plain sailing, but the issues and grumbles can be left for another day. Instead, we thought we’d ask some of the brewers, bar and bottleshop owners around Oz about their 2011. First to the oche are the Victorians, with three of the success stories of the year spilling the beans. So, folks, how was it for you?
Brad Merritt, owner of Oscar’s Alehouse
It was a great year for us, our third year in operation and business is still growing. We have a fantastic group of regulars that equate Oscar’s Alehouse to ‘Cheers’, we even have a Norm and Cliff! We started organising bus trips for our regulars in 2011 to visit breweries so they can get a better understanding of what is involved in the brewing process and, of course, taste their product. We’ve expanded our beer range to about 100 beers in bottle and on tap with new beers coming in almost every week.
What was the highlight of the year?
It would have to be ‘The Dog Lovers Ball’ where we raised over $3,000 for Animal Aid. We’ll be planning the next one for sometime in April 2012.
Anything that surprised you?
The number of new beers and hybrid beers released by Australian microbreweries. The huge success of Good Beer Week. The sold out Victorian Microbrewery showcases at Federation Square (above).
The best beer you tasted all year
The hardest question to answer. I’d have to say Moylan’s Moylander Double IPA was the standout for me this year. Mornington Peninsula IPA, Bridge Road Hop Harvest, Hargreaves Hill Stout, Kooinda Black IPA, 3 Boys Oyster Stout, Holgate ESB, Renaissance Scotch Ale, Red Duck Pale Rider and 8 Wired Tall Poppy would probably round off my top 10 this year. There were so many great beers this year!
What would you most like to see in 2012?
More new releases from Australian Microbreweries, changes to the excise tax, more bars/pubs and bottleshops supporting local microbreweries, Holgate releasing another batch of their Christmas Ale, and the return of Temple. What an amazing year 2011 was…looking forward to 2012! Thanks Crafty for your huge support. [A pleasure!]
Andrew “AG” Gow, head brewer at Mornington Peninsula Brewery
It’s been the first full year for MPB so in that sense it was exciting and extremely rewarding. Brewery patronage continued to grow throughout the year, we started packaged product and now can’t keep up with demand for Pale and IPA. The brewing capacity increased and will do again early 2012. So, all in all, a few minor hiccups along the way but generally a great year for MPB.
The overall response to both the beers and the brewery has been overwhelming. The brewery/bar down here is a little oasis amongst an industrial backdrop and people really enjoy the space. The beers too have been especially well received.
Possibly that, as yet, no Aussie craft brewery to my mind is canning their beer.
Thinking Aussie craft, I really enjoyed….Red Hill Temptation, Bridge Rd Stella IPA, and both of Feral Karma Citra and Barrel-aged Hop Hog.
I would like to see a singular, united and national body representing Australian craft beer. Continued growth of the microbrewing market in Australia. Continued raising of the bar of Australian craft beer product. An automated bottling line at MPB in 2012!
Tony Pendreich, owner of Valley Cellar Door
2011 was a fantastic year for us, the growth of the business has passed all expectations, but will also be remembered for long working days and no holidays…what a bummer!
The highlight for us was being interviewed and filmed for a featured segment on ABC TV ‘Inside Business’ closely followed by a great article on our bar published in Epicure in May.
I always new we had fantastic valued house wines, but what surprised me the most was that three of our house wines were selected in James Hallidays Top 100 wines of 2011. That really did surprise me!
I am a dark beer drinker through and through so for me the best beer of 2011 that I tasted was the Red Hill Imperial Stout…scrumptious!
Apart from World Peace, what I would most like to see in 2012 is consumers getting 100% behind the small guys and sticking it right up the big boys where it hurts… ouch!