Balter's XPA steals top spot at the GABS Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers

The GABS Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers celebrated its tenth year on the weekend, an opportune moment to reflect on craft beer's remarkable progress in this country.

The results from 2008, the first ever poll voted by staff and customers of The Local Taphouse venues in Sydney and Melbourne, are something of a time capsule for the beer industry of the day.

That year Little Creatures Pale Ale topped a list of beers that included the likes of Tooheys Old, Bluetongue Premium Lager and Hahn Premium.

Brew wars

The proliferation of small independent breweries in the decade since has ensured none of the latter beers would have a chance of getting a guernsey today (those that are still in existence).

And old guard craft breweries such as Murray's and Holgate, stalwarts in the poll's early years, also appear to have faded from the reckoning, even though both are still making some high quality beers.

Polling successfully is undoubtedly harder than it has ever been. Consumers are increasingly fickle, with little brand loyalty at play as we all enjoy a greater than ever choice of beers.

A new challenger arises

After two consecutive years on top, three-time winner Stone & Wood Pacific Ale dropped into second place this year, with Balter Brewing's XPA taking out top spot in only its second year of competition.

Rounding out the podium for the GABS Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers of 2017 was Crankshaft IPA from BentSpoke Brewing Co in Canberra. The American-style IPA topped an impressive showing from Canberra brewers, with Capital Brewing and Pact Beer also featuring prominently.

Stone & Wood co-founder Jamie Cook believes the dynamics of the poll are changing.


"There's lots of new blood coming through, which is fantastic. Every year this competition goes on you see more and more focus on newer beers coming further up the list," he says.

"It's morphing closer to the Triple J Hottest 100 in terms of new stuff getting some real excitement around it."

Fresh beer on the scene

An impressive 24 new beers debuted on this year's list, which meant there were plenty of great breweries that dropped out of the list entirely.

Style-wise, the hugely popular New England, or 'hazy' IPA was the big story to emerge from this year's results.

Leading the haze craze was 'Jedi Juice' from Melbourne's Hop Nation, which came in at number eight. Fellow Victorian brewers 3 Ravens ('Juicy'), Mountain Goat ('Back To The Brewer') and CoConspirators ('The Matriarch') also drew significant votes for their hazy IPA offerings.

The New England IPA seems to be just another extension of Australia's love of hoppy beers, which shows no sign of slowing down.

Hopping mad

Across the range of beers in the list, 75 per cent were hop-driven styles – such as Pale Ale, IPA, or the higher-ABV Double IPA – up from 68 per cent in the previous year.

More than 2000 beers were nominated and a record number of votes received (33 per cent more than last year).

"We're thrilled with this year's list, which is possibly one of the most exciting yet. New breweries, new styles and importantly, new winners all go to illustrate what an exciting time it is in the craft beer space," commented organiser Steve Jeffares.

Check out the gallery above to see the top 20 beers from the GABS.