By Emily Day
2016 was a bloody big year for beer. Not only did the number of Australian craft breweries rise from several hundred to several hundred million (well it felt like that anyway), but new beer styles took centre stage, a bunch of cool bars opened, a couple closed, and brewpubs became A Thing. Froth takes a moment to celebrate the year that was and count down the top five craft beer moments from 2016.
Everybody who was everybody was chucking their beers into tinnies this year. From Moon Dog in Melbourne to Pact in Canberra, Rocks Brewing in Sydney, Little Bang in SA and Feral in WA, aluminium was on everyone’s lips, literally. With the popularity of the tinnie and the unstoppable rise of can-only breweries such as Pirate Life (SA) and Balter (Qld), could the glass bottle soon become extinct? Let’s see how this trend pans out in 2017.
Pale Ales and IPAs are perenially popular but 2016 saw the rise of lesser known German varieties such as the Gose and the Berliner Weisse. A cloudy, sour, white beer that’s usually about 3% ABV, the Berliner Weisse is a northern German brew that has been made since at least the 16th century. Super popular in Berlin (hence the name, duh), by the late 19th century there were up to 50 breweries in the city making it. Light, refreshing, and slightly tart, the beer style found favour in Australia over the past year or so, no doubt inspired by the success of Boatrocker’s fantastic Miss Pinky Raspberry Berliner Weisse and Feral’s Watermelon Warhead. Numerous local breweries have produced their own take on the style, often low in alcohol and containing fruit. Notable recent examples include Sailor’s Grave Brewing’s Mandarin Berliner Weisse (VIC) and Dainton Family Brewing’s Blood Orange Berliner Weisse (also VIC). Low in booze and high on refreshment, this style is perfect for a Strayan summer, and I hope to see more of it in 2017!
Woah, everyone opened up a brewpub in 2016. This is very cool, and means that in heaps of suburbs around Melbourne, you can rock up to your local pub, order a beer that is brewed just METRES AWAY, and neck it back while chatting with the dude or dudette who brewed it. A lot of work must go into opening your own brewpub, and we have heaps of respect to those who have taken the leap. Our faves include Henry St Brewhouse in Kensington, Tallboy & Moose in Preston, Hop Nation in Footscray, Stomping Ground in Collingwood and Dainton Family Brewing in Carrum Downs. Existing brewpubs that are also awesome include Airey’s Pub in the Great Ocean Road town of Airey’s Inlet, Red Hill Brewery on the Mornington Peninsula, Bad Shepherd in Cheltenham, Clifton Hill Brewpub in Melbourne’s inner north and Two Birds Brewery in Spotswood in Melbourne’s west. (Some of these may be brewery bars as opposed to your traditional brewpubs, but all either offer food or have food trucks/food delivery options along with their great beer.)
Women are totally a thing in beer now which is AWESOME. Not only are pioneering lady brewers Two Birds completely rocking the world with their awesome beers (including Taco, Sunset Ale, Bantam IPA and Golden Ale) and a recent expansion, but several more female brewers are swaggering onto the scene and completely owning it, giving femmo beer lovers around the nation plenty of reasons to give each other high-fives. Once relegated to posing in beer ads aimed at men, women are now picking up the mash paddles and brewing kickass beers, such as Melbourne’s Kettle Green (the side project of Cavalier head brewer Mia Piechocinski), Brunswick’s Himmel Brewing (led by head brewer Annabel Meagher), new gypsy kids the Co-Conspirators (home-brewers-turned-pro Maggie Smit and her husband Deon, and partners Tim Martin and Jacqui Sacco) and Fitz + Potts bar in Brisbane with the epically awesome Cassie Potts behind the bar. In terms of women kicking serious butt it was hard to go past the Sparkke Change Beverage Company, a small group of female brewers and entrepreneurs based in Adelaide who successfully raised $100,000 in a crowdfunding campaign to release a series of beers in tins bearing political slogans about racial and gender equality. Move over blokes, we’ve got this.
BoozeBud, Beer Cartel, Tipple, Amber Shuffler, Beer Store, Crafty Brew, Beer Buddha, The Craft Beer Market – not leaving your home never sounded so good. Now at the click of a button, we can order booze from around Australia, delivered to our door. (Personally, I love going to my favourite bottle-o and perusing the fridges, in the same way that I like going to a bookshop and browsing the shelves. However, I can understand that craft beer lovers who do not have a good beer store near them would relish these options!) Click away, friends.
Froth’s predictions for 2017
Who knows what kind of bright and bubbly future beer has in 2017? Not us. But we’ll give it a go. Here are five of our top predictions for next year.
1. A medium-sized Aussie craft brewery will be snapped up by one of the big guys
(No shit, Sherlock, I’m sure most of you are saying.)
2. More beer will be aged in barrels, specifically gin and tequila
With the rise of craft distilleries and the success of beers aged in barrels such as Boatrocker’s Ramjet and Hargreaves Hill’s limited release Four Pillars Gin Barrel Aged Gose, I reckon brewers and distillers are going to get together to make some pretty interesting concoctions in 2017. Who will make the first mezcal gose, I wonder?
3. Spirits and beer, together at last
In a similar spirited (haha) vein, I reckon there will be more in the way of boilermakers and beer cocktails, but moving away from whisky and bourbon and embracing locally made, artisanal spirits. God that sounds wanky. But I’m sure it will taste good!
4. Even more independent breweries will open up in Australia
I feel like we haven’t reached peak craft beer in Australia yet, and with more and more beer drinkers turning to craftier options, I reckon there’s still room for more players on the scene. In a related note, no doubt more mainstream breweries will also adopt faux-crafty labels, so keep your eye out for more mass-produced booze lurking beneath crafty facades.
5. It will be really ace
I think it’s going to be a fun year. See you there!