10 of the most important Australian craft beers ever

It was 1984 when Matilda Bay Brewing Company started up in Fremantle, the milestone widely credited as the beginning of craft beer in Australia.

The phenomenon began much earlier in America, where production of its supposed first craft beer, Anchor Steam, began in San Francisco in 1965. America subsequently evolved into a country of thousands of craft breweries that created a multitude of new, hop-driven beer styles quite unlike anything seen before in the Old World.

This rich and varied tapestry has provided excellent fodder for US beer pundits to nominate their selections of the most important American craft beers. Our own comparatively nascent craft brewing industry does not throw up the same embarrassment of riches when considering individual beers that have been truly influential and groundbreaking.

Influential brews

I have nevertheless accepted the challenge, while not confining this list purely to modern 'craft beers'. It is instead a list of beers that were in some way pivotal or influential, or that foreshadowed the new era of brewing that was to be defined by flavour and passion, rather than homogeneity and profit.

Only beers that are still in continuous production today have been included, ruling out much feted beers such as Burragorang Bock, created by the late New South Wales brewing pioneer Geoffrey Scharer. There are a couple of captain's picks that will undoubtedly stir debate.

I doubt however that there would be many people that would argue about the importance of Little Creatures Pale Ale in kickstarting the second, more successful wave of craft beer that continues to gather momentum today. But it is actually Coopers Brewery that is the true father of Australian craft beer, according to Phil Sexton, co-founder of both Little Creatures and Matilda Bay.

"They provided a platform of awareness about different beers and an interest in traditional-style beers that survived through what were very dark years of brewing in Australia," he once reflected.

So if you're enjoying a newer Aussie craft beer this weekend, spare a toast for the pioneering brews that came before it.

Are there any others you think are deserving of a place in this hall of fame? See what made the cut in the gallery above and let us know what you think in the comments section.