Fact: over a million Australians have switched their choice of beer from mainstream brands to boutique brews. There are even online stores dedicated to selling craft beer solely, such as Slowbeer.com.au which helps local breweries market their wares more widely while providing consumers with a greater range and expert advice.
The guys behind these beer-devoted sites will tell you they began their online business ventures out of frustration of not finding a decent brew at their local bottlo come Friday afternoon drinks. Fortunately for all of us, there are now hundreds upon hundreds of Australian craft breweries creating an astonishingly diverse range of styles and flavours; just like we’ve come to expect from wine or coffee.
One book that does a dandy job of profiling the best of craft beers available out there is The Great Australian Beer Guide by James Smith. A couple of years ago, Smith penned a humble book titled 150 Great Australian Beers and even he says he’s amazed at the consistent increase in interest in craft beer since.
In his latest tribute, he profiles hundreds of brews, each categorised under specific section (Lagers, Pale Ales, Stouts, Wheat Beers and so on) while providing the reader with the backstory of the business behind each beer, its tasting notes, and even suggestions of what food to best match with each great drop.
The author also offers a basic history of craft beer, and beer-making in general in Australia, pinpointing where particular trends began and paying tribute to the many small players in the big beer industry who have helped make it so brilliantly diverse.
In fact, if there’s one guy who knows the business of beer-making and distribution in this country, it’s Smith, who regales how he has enjoyed beers brewed with everything from wine wort to Weetbix, native Australian plants to kids’ lollies.
While the statistical nature of this book will appeal to hospitality industry types, it is anecdotes such as the aforementioned that make The Great Australian Beer Guide an enjoyable read for even average punters who simply enjoy a decent pint. Antonino Tati
‘The Great Australian Beer Guide: Your Guide to Craft Beer and Beyond’ is available in August through Hardie Grant Books, RRP $29.99. And considering that’s about the price of a four-pack of quality brew, it’s actually excellent value!