GABS announce their Hottest 100 Australian craft beers of 2016

The largest and most influential poll of Australian beer drinkers, GABS Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers, has wrapped for another year.

And the winner is...

Stone & Wood Pacific Ale maintained its number one spot on a winners' podium that was unchanged, save for Feral Hop Hog switching places with Pirate Life IIPA.

According to co-founder Steve Jeffares, interest in the poll continues to grow, as evidenced by bookmakers Ladbrokes and Sportsbet this year opening markets on the event for the first time.

"It's another indication, as to the traction that the Hottest 100 beers poll is getting," he says.

"It's really exploding in growth and I think in time it might become, in some quarters, as important to people as the famous JJJ countdown."

The votes are in

The total number of votes is closely guarded by organisers, the GABS Beer, Cider and Food Fest, but Jeffares says it is significantly up on last year once again, this time by 46 per cent.

"It's a very impressive number, there's a lot of people voting," he says. "And there's a really strong spread of votes, even from the Northern Territory."

If this year's top three were somewhat predictable, Jeffares says plenty of other interesting stories emerged, as people lodged their votes on more than 1600 eligible beers.

Breakthrough beers

Last year Adelaide's Pirate Life was the debutante that exploded into the poll. Balter Brewing, the Gold Coast outfit co-owned by surfer Mick Fanning and friends, this year achieved a similar feat with its XPA, which placed fourth.

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"It's an excellent beer, with the same mix of reasons I think that Pirate Life rocketed in last year," Jeffares says.

"Balter has very quickly developed a brand that a lot of people connect with."

From the capital

Canberra's Bentspoke Brewery was also a standout performer with its Crankshaft IPA (8th) and Barley Griffin Pale Ale (19th) impressing, despite having been only been packaged for the first time late last year.

"I attribute Crankshaft's rise to the fact that it is now packaged in cans, and Bentspoke has got such a strong and genuine following in the ACT," says Jeffares.

Flavours from the south

Victorian brewer Kaiju! also exploded into the poll with a remarkable 55th placing for its Kaiju Krush! Tropical Pale Ale, which had only been on the market for a matter of weeks, having been released in December 2016.

"While it does certainly get harder for beers and breweries to stand out, there is always the opportunity for a brewery with the right product and right brand, and the right marketing behind it, to rocket up our list," comments Jeffares.

A brittle brew

Another Hottest 100 debutante is the 'Peanut Brittle' Gose from Queensland's Bacchus Brewing Co, which first made its mark at the 2016 GABS Beer, Cider & Food Festival as the most popular Festival Beer (beers brewed especially for the event).

Increasingly, Festival Beers that prove popular at GABS are making their way into a brewery's permanent range and onto the broader Hottest 100 list.

Traditionalist trends

Out of the Top Ten, five of the beers are packaged in cans, which Jeffares says further illustrates the return of the humble tinnie.

And he says there can be no mistaking that India Pale Ale is on the rise, with yet more IPAs in the top 100 for 2016.

"I think it's an indication that IPAs are going to continue to grow in popularity, despite some people's view in the marketplace… I don't think it will ever surpass Pale Ale, like it has in the United States, but in the Hottest 100, people seem to really enjoy those big flavours," Jeffares says.

Notable exceptions

One notable omission from the poll was Coopers, usually a mainstay with its Pale Ale. For reasons unknown the Adelaide brewer did not enter its beers this year.

Co-owned by the GABS founders in Jeffares and Guy Greenstone, Melbourne's Stomping Ground Brewery was voluntarily omitted after they decided the conflict of interest was too great to make its beers eligible.

"We'd obviously like to be part of it, but there'd be hell to pay if we made the top 100, I can be certain of that," Jeffares explains.

Multinationals miss out

If anything, the popular multinational-owned brands such as James Squire slipped back a bit in the rankings this year, but that was no surprise to Jeffares.

"The majority of people we're marketing it to, are people that have a connection with GABS. They are overwhelmingly people who have more than a passing interest in beer and they tend to favour independent craft in their choices," he says.

Countdown

The GABS Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers of 2016 was counted down on the afternoon of Australia Day at more than 20 official venues dotted all over the country, including the first one ever in the Top End.

"This year there is a venue in Darwin that has a countdown event, which is really exciting to us," Jeffares says.

The official GABS Hottest 100 Aussie craft beers

1.        'Pacific Ale' Australian Pale Ale (Stone & Wood, NSW)

2.        'IIPA' American Double IPA (Pirate Life, SA)

3.        'Hop Hog' American Pale Ale (Feral, WA)

4.        'XPA' American Pale Ale (Balter, QLD) NEW   

5.        'IPA' American IPA (Pirate Life, SA)

6.        'Little Dove' American Pale Ale (Gage Roads, WA) NEW

7.        'Pale Ale' American Pale Ale (Pirate Life, SA)

8.        'Crankshaft' American IPA (BentSpoke, ACT)

9.        'Former Tenant' American IPA (Modus Operandi, NSW)

10.      'Pale Ale' American Pale Ale (4 Pines, NSW)

11.      'IPA' American IPA (Fixation, NSW)

12.      'War Hog' American IPA (Feral, WA)

13.      'Beechworth Pale Ale' American Pale Ale (Bridge Road, VIC)

14.      '150 Lashes' Australian Pale Ale (James Squire, NSW)

15.      'Pale Ale' American Pale Ale (Little Creatures, WA/VIC)

16.      'Newtowner' Australian Pale Ale (Young Henry's, NSW)

17.      'Indian Summer Ale' Australian Pale Ale (4 Pines, NSW)

18.      'Kolsch' Kölsch (4 Pines, NSW)

19.      'Barley Griffin' Australian Pale Ale (BentSpoke, ACT)

20.      'Throwback' Specialty IPA (Pirate Life, SA)

21.      'Sonic Prayer' American IPA (Modus Operandi, NSW) NEW

22.      'Taco' Specialty Beer (Two Birds, VIC) GABS

23.      'India Red Ale' American IPA (Prancing Pony, SA)

24.      'Golden Stout Time' Sweet Stout (Big Shed, SA) GABS

25.      'Korben D.' American Double IPA (Akasha, NSW) NEW

26.      'Single Fin' Blonde/Golden Ale (Gage Roads, WA)

27.      'Three Sheets' Australian Pale Ale (Lord Nelson, NSW)

28.      'Cloud Catcher' Australian Pale Ale (Stone & Wood, NSW)

29.      'Karma Citra' Black IPA (Feral, WA) GABS

30.      'Atomic' American Pale Ale (Gage Roads, WA)

31.      'Coffee Ramjet 2016' Wood-Aged Beer (Boatrocker, VIC) NEW

32.      'Tusk – Nov 2016' Specialty IPA (Feral, WA) NEW

33.      'Red' American Amber Ale (Nail, WA)

34.      'Ramjet 2016' Wood-Aged Beer (Boatrocker, VIC) NEW

35.      'Dark Ale' Dark Mild (White Rabbit, VIC)

36.      'Summer Ale' Australian Pale Ale (Mountain Goat, VIC)

37.      'Wild Yak' Australian Pale Ale (Yak Ales, VIC) NEW

38.      'Steam Ale' California Common (Mountain Goat, VIC)

39.      'Kosciuszko Pale Ale' Australian Pale Ale (Kosciuszko, NSW)

40.      'Grizz' American Amber Ale (2 Brothers, VIC)

41.      'Small Ale' Specialty IPA (Colonial, WA/VIC)

42.      'Dog Days' American Wheat (Little Creatures, VIC)

43.      'Footscray Ale' Australian Pale Ale (West City, VIC)

44.      'Spearhead' Australian Pale Ale (Cricketers Arms, VIC)

45.      'Vanilla Milk Stout' Sweet Stout (Thirsty Crow, NSW)

46.      'Modus Pale' American Pale Ale (Modus Operandi, NSW) NEW

47.      'Furphy' Kölsch (Little Creatures, VIC)

48.      'Amber Ale' American Amber Ale (4 Pines, NSW)

49.      'VPA' American Pale Ale (Nail, WA)

50.      'Californicator' American IPA (Big Shed, SA)

51.      'Freshie Salt & Pepper' Gose (Nomad, NSW)

52.      'Mt Tennent' American Pale Ale (Pact, ACT)

53.      'Fat Yak' American Pale Ale (Yak Ales, VIC)

54.      'Kung Foo' Pale Lager (2 Brothers, VIC)

55.      'KRUSH!' American Pale Ale (KAIJU!, VIC) NEW

56.      'Windjammer' American IPA (Green Beacon, QLD)

57.      'Reginald' American IPA (Blackman's, VIC)

58.      'Pale Ale' American Pale Ale (Hawkers, VIC)

59.      'Session Ale' Australian Pale Ale (Mismatch, SA)

60.      'Calypso' American Pale Ale (Odyssey, VIC)

61.      '8BiT' American IPA (Stockade, NSW) NEW

62.      'Hop Thief 8' American Pale Ale (James Squire, NSW) NEW

63.      'The Chop' American IPA (Hop Nation, VIC) NEW

64.      'Sunset Ale' American Amber Ale (Two Birds, VIC)

65.      'IPA' American IPA (Little Creatures, WA/VIC)

66.      'Rogers' American Amber Ale (Little Creatures, WA/VIC)

67.      'Watermelon Warhead' Berliner Weisse (Feral, WA) GABS

68.      'Hop Culture' American IPA (Mornington Peninsula, VIC) NEW

69.      'Miss Pinky' Soured Fruit Beer (Boatrocker, VIC)

70.      'Bright Ale' Blonde/Golden Ale (Little Creatures, WA/VIC)

71.      'Sly Fox' American Pale Ale (Feral, WA)

72.      'Hop Thief 7' American Pale Ale (James Squire, NSW)

73.      'Praline' Belgian Specialty Ale (La Sirène, VIC)

74.      'Copy Cat' American IPA (Mash, WA)

75.      'Elsie The Milk Stout' Sweet Stout (Batch, NSW)

76.      'Fancy Pants' American Amber Ale (Mountain Goat, VIC)

77.      'The Fox' Vienna-style Lager (Rabbit & Spaghetti, SA)  

78.      'Growler' American Brown Ale (2 Brothers, VIC)

79.      'IPA' American IPA (Hawkers, VIC)

80.      'Peanut Brittle' Gose (Bacchus, QLD) NEW GABS

81.      'Rare Breed: Pulped Fiction' Double IPA (Mountain Goat, VIC) NEW

82.      'Yenda Pale Ale' Australian Pale Ale (Australian Beer Co, NSW)

83.      'Garden Ale' Australian Pale Ale (Stone & Wood, NSW)

84.      'Hazelnut Brown' English Brown Ale (Bad Shepherd, VIC)

85.      'Bling Bling' Double IPA (Bridge Road, VIC)

86.      'Beach Ale' Blonde Ale (Odyssey, VIC) NEW

87.      'Pale Ale' American Pale Ale (Mornington Peninsula, VIC)

88.      'Fred' American IPA (Murray's, NSW)

89.      'Imperial IPA' Specialty IPA (4 Pines, NSW) NEW

90.      'F-Yeah' American Pale Ale (Big Shed, SA)

91.      'Session IPA' American IPA (Modus Operandi, NSW) NEW

92.      'Bling' American IPA (Bridge Road, VIC)

93.      'Project #22: Bert' Australian Pale Ale (Colonial, WA) NEW

94.      'Sourpuss' Berliner Weisse (Wayward, NSW)

95.      'B.F.H. (Barrel Fermented Hog)' American IPA (Feral, WA)

96.      '28' American Pale Ale (Burleigh, QLD)

97.      'Thanks Captain Obvious' American IPA (BrewCult, VIC)

98.      'ALT Brown American Brown Ale (Balter, QLD) NEW

99.      'The Chancer' Blonde/Golden Ale (James Squire, NSW)

100.   'Hopsmith' American IPA (Akasha, NSW)