As it comes to the end of the year, it’s almost compulsory to do lists and choose your top 10 of everything – including beer. So, we thought we’d join in with the spirit of the season.
This year, based on our craft beer reviews, these are what we consider to have been the Top 10 (in no particular order of preference):
Akasha Brewing Company Freshwater Pale Ale (5.2%)
This was probably the most anticipated new beer from a new brewery in a long time. And it went on to surprise a few Dave Padden hop head fans. There are hops but this is one of the most balanced drinkable pale ales I’ve ever tried. Quality at its best. Drinkable, moreish with a strong hop aroma with a sweet/bitter balanced taste. Only beer this year where after the first taste I went on to have 4 pints. I LOVE this beer.
Bargara Brewing Co Thirsty Turtle Bright Lager (4.5%)
The first beer from the newly launched Bundaberg, QLD based Bargara Brewing Company, and what a debut. The search for a proper drinkable and sessionable Australian lager is over. This is it. The beer pours bright and clear with a golden yellow hue, forming a loose foamy head which soon settles down to a thin topping maintained by the continuing slight carbonation.
The smell is a mixture of lemon and summer meadows with neither the citrus or the flowery aromas taking hold but balancing perfectly to entice you to begin drinking. The mix of the European hops (Hallertau and Perle) come through without hitting you over the head, and leave the malty biscuit smell intact. The taste is of slight bitterness that fills your mouth with flavour. The malt dominates at the beginning and continues through to the aftertaste where the delicate hop flavours appear producing a slight dry crisp finish that certainly leaves you wanting more.
Holgate Brewhouse Gatekeeper (3.5%)
Very light in appearance, almost transparent, but packed with flavour for a mid strength beer. The taste is more on the malty side with only a slight hint of hop bitterness. Originally a one off as part of the Tank Nine release program this is now a core beer, although only generally available in Queensland and at the brewery in Woodend, VIC. Very refreshing and easy drinking for a good session.
Akasha Brewing Company Hopsmith IPA (7.2%)
The second of the beers from the new Sydney brewery Akasha founded by former Riverside brewer, Dave Padden. Along with their Freshwater Pale Ale this IPA also makes the Top 10. The tap decal says “It’s all about the hops” and this superb “West Coast style IPA” delivers that, and more. Good strong piney aroma with fruity orange aromas also coming through. Whilst the hops are the star, the robust malt base gives this the perfect balance leaving a dry moderate bitter finish. It certainly doesn’t taste like it’s a 7.2% beer.
Rocks Brewing Butcher Porter (5.0%)
The first beer in the list that’s been around a while. This wonderful staple of the Rocks Brewery is still the best Porter we’ve tasted from one our craft beer breweries. It’s smooth and silky just as the pure black colour and thick creamy head indicates. Busting with deep dark chocolate and slight burnt toffee tastes. A meal in a glass.
Brewtal Brewers Brisbane River Brown (6.2%)
Delicious thick, malty brown in colour and taste. Sweet caramel tastes with perfectly balanced hops. Dangerously moreish for a 6.2% beer. As with any decent brown the thick head stayed to the bottom of the glass. Fantastic beer from the Brisbane gypsy brewing concern.
Prancing Pony Copper Ale (5.8%)
Apparently based on an ‘English style India Pale Ale, this copper coloured beer is predominately about the malt with balance provided by some good hop characters. Tastes strongly of sweet orange marmalade with the hop bitterness coming through at the end to provide a dry finish.
Noisy Minor Admiral Akbar Anti-Imperial Ale (8.4%)
It’s deep, dark red colouring, and creamy head lets you know that this is going to be a big smooth drinking beer. Some hop bitterness, but the sweet toffee caramel tastes dominate. A beer to be careful with as its drinkability hides that 8.4% ABV. Now available in bottles for more people to see what all the fuss is about.
Pirate Life Throwback IPA (3.5%)
Making a storming debut at the beginning of the year, Pirate Life launched three beers from their Adelaide brewery. For us, this is the best. A strongly flavoured mid strength IPA that packs well above its weight. The golden colour gives off strong tropical and pine aromas, with a hint of grapefruit. A light, refreshing and delicate mouthfeel has this session IPA packing enough flavour that it is still enjoyable after a few. And at 3.5% ABV thats not a problem.
Tanglehead Lime Burners Stout (5.5%)
One of the small range of beers produced by the small Tanglehead Brewery based at the White Horse Hotel in Albany, WA. This stout really stood out. Strong, thick and creamy. The chocolate and coffee aromas added to in the taste by hints of vanilla. A complex beer that was unbelievably drinkable.