And now, the end is near. And so I face the final rundown. (Unless we do get a mini list from ACT by tomorrow). Which means, following Tassie, Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales, comes South Australia as we cast an eye back over the past year to pick the best new brews to come out of the state in 2014.
As with the previous five lists, the choice was limited to beers making an appearance for the first time in the past 12 months, something that's become far easier in South Australia in the past couple of years as more and more brewers have taken first steps in the commercial world. Among those now brewing are the ladies at Adelaide's marvellous Wheaty and it is to one of them, Jade Flavell, that we turn for this list.
But will any of the beers brewed by the venue's own Wheaty Brew Corps (and there have already been heaps of them) make the list?
Big Shed Brewing 'FrankenBROWN' Brown Ale
In a year that saw almost as many new breweries as new beers, Big Shed's FrankenBROWN was one of the first out of the blocks. This 'patchwork quilt' of a beer was fearless and powerful – angry even – on debut but mellowed beautifully into a smooth, malty, moreish Brown Ale.
Brewboys 'Gasoline' New World Lager
A brand spanking version of an old favourite from their new brewery, Gasoline is Brewboys' typically full-throttled take on a New World Lager: big, full, malty, bottle conditioned – and fat with Galaxy, Topaz and Mosaic hops.
Clare Valley Brewing Co 'King Kong' Stout
In a time honoured South Australian tradition, 'Kong' is a straight-up Extra Stout: black, bittersweet, roasty and full – comfortable in the dual roles of rampaging monster and tragic anti-hero. Though I secretly wish they'd called it 'Twinkle'…
Little Bang Brewing Co 'Icon' Hoppy Lager
At 5.5 percent ABV the smallest of three big beers that launched Little Bang in November, Icon combines the soft, clean fruitiness of an unfiltered lager with the zippy hop character of a Steam Ale – and does it really well.
Lobethal Bierhaus 'Summer of Saison'
Brewed as this year's 'Belair Red Menace' release, Summer of Saison is Lobethal's first unsolicited crack at the style: lean, dry, spicy and understated. Delicious.
Mismatch Brewing Co 'Session Ale'
Mismatch Session Ale is exactly that: bright, fresh, hoppy and dry with just enough Citra/Galaxy zing to keep the taste buds ticking over. Simple. Good.
Smiling Samoyed 'IPA'
A tight, balanced, straight-up take on a West Coast IPA: hop-forward with bright pine/lime, just enough malt and a beautiful 'lemon sherbet' finish capable of holding its own against much better known IPAs.
Steam Exchange 'Chocolate IPA'
One for the sweet tooths, Steam Exchange Chocolate IPA is more chocolate than IPA: smooth, rich and roasty with just a twinge of bitterness to finish. Chocolate cake-mix for adults. In a good way.
Wheaty Brewing Corps 'Corps Promise' Rye Pale†
After a surreal and blessed entry into the world of brewing which has seen us brew 24 different beers in 30 batches (nine of which were collaborations) – Corps Promise is the only beer we've settled down to brew five times – which almost makes a staple of this spicy and bitter Rye Pale with big tropical hop aromatics and a dry, piney twang to finish. Simple, fresh and unambiguous.
Wheaty Brewing Corps/Lobethal Bierhaus 'Ryewaka' Rye IPA
The return-leg of the first ever collaborative brew between Lobethal and The Wheaty, of a beer essentially designed around a cheesy pun. Ryewaka combines the spicy, 'hard' grainy character of Rye with the sharp, grapefruit-pith kick of Riwaka in a lean and bitey IPA. There's much to be said for the rude freshness of a beer brewed within ten metres of the tap…
† Warning! The author is co-owner, crewer and Chief Propagandist of the Wheaty Brewing Corps, proceed with scepticism...
Thanks for the roundup, Jade. Certainly is an exciting time for craft beer in SA with multiple new breweries set to open in the coming months too. Cheers!
PS The photo of Little Bang (the one with the rubber glove) was pilfered off their Facebook page as we've not had their Who Brews...? answers and piccies back yet (we did only ask before Christmas, after all).