Australia's top craft beers named

Craft beer fans have voted Stone & Wood Pacific Ale their favourite brew of 2015 after an online poll revealed it unseated the three-time defending champion, Feral Brewing's Hop Hog.

Byron Bay-based Stone & Wood led the poll to name 'the Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers of 2015', hosted by the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS).

The result reverses the last three years of the contest, when Feral's Hop Hog consistently relegated Stone & Wood to second placing. The latter won the poll in 2011.

The GABS poll has joined another Hottest 100 survey, Triple J's musical countdown, as an Australia Day institution. In both cases it's considered all-but mandatory to have a quality local beer in hand as the results are revealed.

Newcomer shock

Yet the biggest story to come out of yesterday's revelation of Australia's top 100 craft beers was not the winner but the arrival of Adelaide newcomer Pirate Life Brewing. It grabbed three of the top 11 spots, including the last step on the podium, despite only coming into being nine months ago.

Australians' love of hops is bordering on the obsessive.

Steve Jeffares

GABS spokesman Steve Jeffares says he is confident there was no plundering of votes in the online poll.

"We have processes to make sure as best we can that all the votes are genuine," he says.

Brand nous

He credits Pirate Life's remarkable debut to a "perfect storm" of the startup's own making. "I think increasingly, brands are playing a much more prominent role in people's love and affection for the brewers out there," he says.

"When you see them in a shelf of other craft beers, they stand out. They've got an interesting story, they've got a great brand and they produce some killer beers as well."


Pirate Life took out third place with its IIPA, a highly hopped 8.8 per cent ABV Double India Pale Ale, plus fourth with its Pale Ale and 11th with its Throwback IPA. "It's quite extraordinary that a Double IPA has come in at number 3," Jeffares says.

Hop on board

This feat, together with the poll's overall results, leaves no doubt about what is the currently the hottest style in Australian craft beer. In all, there were 30 IPAs (American-style, Speciality, Black or Double) among the 100 beers named.

"Australians' love of hops is bordering on the obsessive," Jeffares says.

Pirate Life was founded by beer sales professional Michael Cameron together with son Jack Cameron and Red Proudfoot, brewers who between them have worked at Scotland's Brewdog and WA's Little Creatures and Cheeky Monkey.

Nothing lasts forever

While there was an air of predictability about the poll's top spot, which has been occupied by either Stone & Wood or Feral since 2011, Jeffares says Pirate Life's rapid ascension proves nothing lasts forever in the rapidly evolving and growing craft beer industry.

"As more and more beers come on stream and brewers market those beers well, I don't think we're going to see Stone & Wood and Feral hogging the limelight for the next 20 years, by any means.

"There's always going to be the opportunity for brewers with great brands that produce great beer to rise very, very fast."

The Hottest 100 craft beer poll began in 2008 as a frivolous endeavour for staff and punters at GABS-affiliated beer bars, The Local Taphouse in Melbourne and Sydney.

Nine years later, it garners a serious (albeit undisclosed) number of votes nationwide and plays a huge role in deciding what beers are sought out by drinkers and therefore stocked by craft-friendly retailers and bars.

"Some brewers see a really noticeable spike in sales if they're in the Hottest 100," Jeffares says.

Did the Hottest 100 get it right? What's your favourite craft beer? Tell us in the comments section below.

The 2015 GABS Hottest 100

1. Stone and Wood Brewing Co - Pacific Ale Pale Ale (Australian-style)

2. Feral Brewing Company - Hop Hog IPA (American-style)

3. Pirate Life Brewing - IIPA Double IPA (American-style) - NEW

4. Pirate Life Brewing - Pale Ale (American-style) - NEW

5. Little Creatures - Pale Ale (American-style)

6. James Squire - 150 Lashes Pale Ale (Australian-style)

7. 4 Pines Brewing Company - Pale Ale (American-style)

8. 4 Pines Brewing Company - Kolsch Kölsch

9. Modus Operandi Brewing Co - Former Tenant IPA (American-style)

10. Feral Brewing Company - Karma Citra Black IPA

11. Pirate Life Brewing - Throwback IPA (Specialty) - NEW

12. James Squire - Hop Thief 7 Pale Ale (American-style)

13. Two Birds Brewing - Taco Beer Specialty Beer

14. BrewCult - Milk and Two Sugars Sweet Stout - NEW

15. Bridge Road Brewers - Beechworth Pale Ale (American-style)

16. Big Shed Brewing - Golden Stout Time Sweet Stout - NEW

17. Feral Brewing Company - War Hog IPA (American-style)

18. Coopers - Pale Ale (Australian-style)

19. Mountain Goat Brewery - Summer Ale Pale Ale (Australian-style)

20. Mountain Goat Brewery - Steam Ale Pale Ale (Australian-style)

21. White Rabbit Brewery - Dark Ale Dark Mild

22. Boatrocker Brewing Co - Ramjet 2014/15 (Whisky Aged) Russian Imperial Stout - NEW

23. Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel - Three Sheets Pale Ale (Australian-style)

24. Nail Brewing - Red Amber Ale (American-style)

25. Prancing Pony Brewery - India Red Ale IPA (American-style)

26. Riverside Brewing Company - 777 Double IPA (American-style)

27. Fortitude Brewing Company - Noisy Minor Admiral Ackbar Amber Ale (American-style)

28. James Squire - The Chancer Blonde/Golden Ale

29. Stone and Wood Brewing Co - Cloud Catcher Pale Ale (Australian-style)

30. Young Henrys Brewing Company - Newtowner Pale Ale (Australian-style)

31. Fortitude Brewing Company - Noisy Minor ANZUS IPA (American-style)

32. Matilda Bay Brewing Company - Fat Yak Pale Ale (American-style)

33. Little Creatures - Bright Ale Blonde/Golden Ale

34. Colonial Brewing Company - Small Ale IPA (Specialty)

35. 4 Pines Brewing Company - Indian Summer Pale Ale (Australian-style) - NEW

36. Rocks Brewing Co - Hangman Pale Ale (American-style)

37. Mash Brewing - Copy Cat IPA (American-style)

38. Wolf of the Willows - XPA – Extra Pale Ale (American-style)

39. Vale Brewing - Vale Ale Pale Ale (Australian-style)

40. Little Creatures - Dog Days American Wheat - NEW

41. 4 Pines Brewing Company - Imperial West Coast Red Rye IPA (Specialty) - NEW

42. La Sirène Brewing - Praline Belgian Specialty Ale

43. Little Creatures - Return of the Dread Foreign Extra Stout - NEW

44. Boatrocker Brewing Co - Roger Ramjet 2015 (Bourbon Aged) Russian Imperial Stout - NEW

45. Hawkers Beer - Hawkers IPA (American-style) - NEW

46. Feral Brewing Company - Tusk IPA (American-style)

47. Little Creatures - IPA (American-style)

48. 4 Pines Brewing Company The Bastard Children of the British Empire Pale Ale (Australian-style) - NEW

49. Murray's Craft Brewing Co - Fred IPA (American-style)

50. 2 Brothers Brewery - Growler Brown Ale (American-style)

51. Mountain Goat Brewery - Fancy Pants Amber Ale (American-style)

52. Green Beacon Brewing Co - Windjammer IPA (American-style)

53. Hawkers Beer - Hawkers Pale Ale (American-style) - NEW

54. Feral Brewing Company - Watermelon Warhead Berliner Weisse

55. Big Shed Brewing - Californicator IPA (American-style) - NEW

56. Kosciuszko Brewing Company - Pale Ale (Australian-style)

57. 4 Pines Brewing Company - Citrus IPA (Specialty) - NEW

58. Two Birds Brewing - Golden Ale Blonde/Golden Ale

59. Holgate Brewhouse - Temptress Porter

60. Hawthorn Brewing - Pale Ale (American-style)

61. Odyssey Tavern & Brewery - Calypso Pale Ale (American-style)

62. Newstead Brewing Co - Two to The Valley IPA (American-style) - NEW

63. Big Shed Brewing - F-Yeah Pale Ale (American-style)

64. 2 Brothers Brewery - Kung Foo Pale Lager

65. Stone and Wood Brewing Co - Garden Ale Pale Ale (Australian-style)

66. White Rabbit Brewery - Pale Ale (Belgian)

67. Two Birds Brewing - Sunset Ale Amber Ale (American-style)

68. Six String Brewing Company - Dark Red IPA (Specialty)

69. Gage Roads Brewing Co - Atomic Pale Ale (American-style)

70. Murray's Craft Brewing Co - Angry Man Pale Ale (American-style)

71. Shenanigans Brewing - Winston Pale Ale (American-style)

72. Akasha Brewing Company - Hopsmith IPA (American-style) - NEW

73. Nail Brewing - Clout Stout 2015 Russian Imperial Stout

74. 2 Brothers Brewery - Grizz Amber Ale (American-style)

75. Exit Brewing - #010 West Coast IPA (American-style) - NEW

76. Colonial Brewing Company - Draught Kölsch

77. Mornington Peninsula Brewery - IPA (American-style)

78. 4 Pines Brewing Company - Extra Special Bitter ESB (Extra Special Bitter)

79. Australian Beer Co - Yenda Pale Ale (Australian-style)

80. Little Creatures - Rogers Amber Ale (American-style)

81. Moon Dog Craft Brewery - Splice of Heaven IPA (Specialty) - NEW

82. Batch Brewing Co - West Coast IPA (American-style)

83. Thirsty Crow - Vanilla Milk Stout Sweet Stout

84. Mountain Goat Brewery - Barrel Breed Barley Wine (UK-style) - NEW

85. Bridge Road Brewers - Bling IPA (American-style)

86. Rabbit & Spaghetti Brewing Co. - The Fox Vienna-style Lager - NEW

87. Mismatch Brewing Company - Session Ale Pale Ale (Australian-style)

88. Bentspoke Brewery - Crankshaft IPA (American-style)

89. Mornington Peninsula Brewery - Pale Ale (American-style)

90. Burleigh Brewing Company - 28 Pale Ale (American-style)

91. Newstead Brewing Co - 3 Quarter Time Pale Ale (Australian-style) - NEW

92. White Rabbit Brewery - White Ale Witbier

93. Feral Brewing Company - Sly Fox Pale Ale (American-style)

94. Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company - ESB (Extra Special Bitter)

95. 3 Ravens - 55 Pale Ale (American-style)

96. KAIJU! Beer - Metamorphosis IPA (American-style)

97. Coopers - Coopers Sparkling Ale Pale Ale (Australian-style)

98. Modus Operandi Brewing Co - Zoo Feeder IPA (American-style)

99. KAIJU! Beer - Hopped Out Red Amber Ale (American-style)

100. Bad Shepherd - Hazelnut Brown Brown Ale (UK-style) - NEW