Fact: millions of 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 aficionados behind such beer-devoted sites will tell you they began their online business ventures out of frustration of not being able to find a decent brew at their local bottlo.
Fortunately for the rest 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.
According to Pinnacle Beer and Cider expert, Harriet Wischer, two of Australia’s biggest liquor retailers, BWS and Dan Murphy’s, have reported an increase of twenty per cent in craft beer sales over the past year. It seems brewers really want to push the frontiers of flavour.
And there’s a great lot of new beers from reputable breweries including Initial, Colossal, and Algorithm that will impress even the most obnoxious beer connoisseur.
Colossal – who create smaller craft batches for Pinnacle Breweries – have released a classic West Coast IPA called Hopmosphere which is, as its name suggests, out of this world. Bold, hoppy aromas meet big tropical flavours of mango and apricot with a dash of citrus to deliver a robust beer that’s bursting with personality.
Ordinarily, I find Indian Pale Ales a bit bitter for my liking, but the added notes of fruit in Hopmosphere has me converted. And – for a boutique beer with 7% ABV – it’s excellent value at just RRP $6.00 a can.
Another beer with a distinctive malt character, albeit somewhat dryer, is Colossal Brewing’s Mind Harvest – an East Coast IPA that’s packed with hoppy flavours. There’s a bit of that bitterness I ordinarily shy away from, but once again the fruity notes are keeping me content. Mind Harvest is available for RRP $5.00 a can.
It’s certainly exciting to see such vivacious beers coming out of our own backyard, especially considering Australia was once known solely for creating a handful of ‘common’ beers which the English used to drink warm.
Harriet Wischer agrees that this is a burgeoning era for beer-brewing down under: “We’re seeing the exciting use of new hop varieties and brewing techniques that deliver an increasingly broad spectrum of complexity and flavour to appeal to craft beer enthusiasts constantly on the lookout for their next flavour adventure.”
A host of these beers have recently won awards at the prestigious Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA) including a Silver for Algorithm’s Pale Ale (Best Graphic Design), and Bronzes for Colossal Brewing’s Mind Harvest (Best Beer in the American Style Pale Ale category and a gong, too, for Graphic Design).
Also on this must-taste list are Gogo Fish Evolutionary IPA (available in WA only, I’m afraid, RRP $5.00 a can) with its orange, pineapple-y and coconut notes dancing on my tongue; and Zytho Velvet Luxe Stout – boasting a combination of coffee, chocolate, raisin and cream notes – yum! (RRP $5.00 a can). New South Wales peeps are spoilt to be able to enjoy the aforementioned Algorithm Pale Ale (not available elsewhere) but with its unique tropical taste and at RRP $4.00 a can, it’s worth getting a Sydney mate to smuggle a few across the Nullarbor for you.
In all, this selection of new beers is making me yearn for summer but, heck, that’s over five months away. So, I’m just going to turn all the lights on in my backyard and pretend it’s a nice bright day out there as I crack open a couple more of these crafty brews.
All the beers mentioned in this article are available from extensive liquor outlets such as BWS and Dan Murphy’s.