Biggest Hottest 100 Yet

January 18, 2012, by Crafty Pint

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Biggest Hottest 100 Yet

Each year that the Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers poll has been run, it has doubled the number of votes of the previous year. Each year, voting has also usually been open for around 12 weeks. So, it’s quite something that in just one week the 2011 poll has already broken the record for the most votes ever made. Since being launched jointly last week by its founders, The Local Taphouse, as well as The Crafty Pint and Brews News, votes have flooded in, aided by the new voting system whereby voters select from a drop down list of beers rather than having to enter their choices manually. With more beers added to those lists since it went live, there are now well in excess of 800 to pick from!

Local Taphouse founder Steve Jeffares says: "Last year, voting for the Hottest 100 was open for 12 weeks but this year it has taken just one week to surpass the same number of voters as all of last year. It's quite phenomenal really and an indication of how many people enjoy the sometimes tortuous task of selecting their favourite five Aussie craft beers of the year."

The new system has given the man who set it up, Andrew Mitchell, the ability to see where votes are coming from and it seems they’re flying in from all over the world. At the same time, there have been campaigns by brewery staff to try and influence the result in their favour.

"Unsurprisingly, there have been some brewery staff running a campaign to vote for only their beers,“ says Steve. "But through the sheer number of unbiased voters, we are seeing a list perhaps truly reflective of the great beers of 2011."

Voting closes in a week’s time – at 11.30pm on January 25, 2012 – with results to be revealed at midday the following day, so don’t delay. If you’re still contemplating who to go for, don’t forget to check out the SPECIAL BEERS section of this site for reminders of around 150 of the limited releases to come your way in 2011.

And finally, a confession: we’ve not picked our five yet. But, having failed to find the time to run an article on Crafty’s Ten for 2011 as we did for 2010 due to a particularly hectic end to last year, we thought this poll was as good an excuse as any to put one together; who knows, it might act as something of a reminder too.

So, acknowledging the fact that, despite best efforts, we didn’t sample every beer to come out of Australia’s micros this year, here goes (in no particular order):

Feral Karma Citra (Black IPA)

A relatively new style that took hold of brewers' imaginations Down Under for much of the year, this was debuted at the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular in February and was the first beer to blow at both St Kilda and Darlinghurst. Brewer Brendan Varis promptly declared he was unhappy with it… It’s been tweaked since and, on last sampling, was just how you’d imagine a black IPA should be. Honourable mentions to Kooinda’s Full Nelson, a massively full on take on the style that was improbably likeable, Dr’s Orders Mind Warp and the Thorny Goat. And if Temple had released it a little earlier, who knows whether the Midnight IPA might have pipped them all?

Red Hill Bohemian Pilsner

Such is the consistency of Red Hill’s beers, many of them would have a chance of appearing in anyone’s end of year pick (well, those who are lucky enough to be able to get hold of them). Fresh, this is as good a pilsner as you’ll find: rich, full-bodied and drop dead gorgeous to look at in a glass. What’s more, we had to squeeze at least one lager into the list, surely…

 

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Murray’s Oak-Aged Heart of Darkness

OK, so when a brewer of the quality of Shawn Sherlock tells you he’s brewed probably his best beer yet, you’re bound to be excited. And the result, this, really was a treat. That said, throughout a winter of massive Aussie stouts, the competition was fierce: Hargreaves Hill’s Russian Imperial Stout (RIS); Red Hill’s Imperial Stout; Moo Brew (Barrel-Aged and standard) Stout; Seven Sheds' Whisky Willie Warmer; Feral’s Boris; Murray’s Wild Thing; need we go on?

Bright MIA IPA

A beer that nearly killed its brewer. Well, sort of. Bright’s Jon Seltin went missing in action while indulging in the adventure sports of the Victorian Alps the day before this beer was due to be debuted at the Victorian Microbreweries Showcase. Search parties were sent out, wreaths were ordered (OK, they weren’t, but it did get pretty bad), before eventually Jon reappeared and was banished to the brewery to pack everything up ready for the trip to Melbourne. A gloriously refreshing hop monster that wasn’t actually in any way monstrous, we dearly hope they bring it back and replicate its awesomeness (without the near death experience). As above, it’s a pick that could have gone in many other hop heavy directions, not least Bridge Road’s Galaxy IPA, Hargreaves Hill’s Melanie (sorry, Topaz and Amarillo IPA), Mornington Peninsula’s IIPA (which we preferred to their single IPA), Goat’s Rare Breed IPA and old favourite, the Hop Hog.

La Sirène Saison

“You bloody what, Crafty? What the hell is La Sirène?” This. And in launching their first beer at the end of 2011, along with a promise to only ever brew French and Belgian farmhouse styles, they added a cracking take on what’s becoming an increasingly popular style. See Murray’s Le Natural and Bridge Road’s Saison for two other crackers.

Murray’s Punk Monk

Just as the rise in popularity of saisons is something we welcome with open arms, so is the steady arrival of more Belgian styles. Murray’s is among those leading the way, with this beer one that’s punk by name but actually rather smooth by nature – and one that we’d love see much more of. Running it close in the world of Belgians were Lord Nelson’s delightfully crisp Anniversary Ale, Goat’s Oak-Aged Rapunzel Mark II (much better with the spritzy addition of some golden ale pre-tapping than it had been on its first release), Ninkasi’s Angel, Lobethal’s Devil’s Choice and – other than when they experimented with the ferment temperature and made a batch that was a little solventy for our delicate nose – Little’s Mad Abbot Tripel.

Bridge Road India Saison

Well, we’ve done hoppy beers and funky Belgians, so how about a beer that combined the two? When we first sampled this, it was cold, cold, cold and all we got was a wall of Galaxy and Stella hops. When it warmed, the saison side of things came to the fore in what we can only describe as two beers in one, but two that are co-habiting in a way that Carl Williams and Matthew Johnson could only dream of.

 

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Mountain Goat Skipping Girl

The Pacific Ale might have nailed the market in awesomely-refreshing-and-quaffable-aromatic-as-hell-hop-treats-with-a-decent-percentage-of-wheat-for-dryness-of-finish, but this – one of three Goat summer seasonals – stood up against it brilliantly for the short time it was around at the start of 2011. In fact, side by side in a pub tasting, the Skipping Girl, which used Kiwi hops to the Pacific’s Aussie, won Crafty’s heart.

4 Pines Wee Heavy

It’s probably not right to include too many beers that only appeared as one-offs, but what are you gonna do? Sue us? The beer fridge’s the only thing worth claiming! Among all the wild and crazy beers unleashed at GABS in February, this multi-layered malty marvel was one we kept going back to. OK, we kept going back to the Karma Citra, Two Hills Maibock and Holgate Empress too, but not as much as this one. A lovely rich, British style ale, which was kept good company in its field in 2011 by the likes of the Holgate Nut Brown Ale, Van Dieman’s Little Hell, and 3 Ravens USB.

Little Creatures Pale Ale

Expecting a biggie to end? Well, you got one, the biggest seller of them all. You’ll find plenty who’ll say it’s changed, it’s not what it was, and so on, and indeed the brewers do play around with the recipe. But it’s a beer that has done so much to change the beer scene here in Australia and one that never lets you down. Simply a beautifully balanced beer you can knock back at any time. In the field of tasty, session pales, Mornington Peninsula’s Pale Ale, the first beer they bottled, was mighty impressive too.

So there we go. No room for plenty of others we’ve enjoyed, others as varied as Kooinda’s Karakaberry Witbier, Feral’s King Brown, Moon Dog’s Black Lung and Mildura’s Choc Hops. No mention of a sour beer yet, but that’s going to be the story of 2012, don’t you think? All that’s left now is to work out which five to enter for the poll. Wish us luck…

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