Hottest 100 2014

As I get older I find my interest in Triple J’s Hottest 100 fading away; I put this down to the fact that as I am pulled kicking and screaming into my mid-thirties I now say things like “I don’t get this song” about new music and “f**k yeah!” when I hear stuff that was released when I was in my teens/early twenties.

On the flipside, The Local Taphouse Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers is increasingly of interest to me. The all Australian beer countdown is hosted by Melbourne venue The Local Taphouse, with support from Australian Brews News & Crafty Pint, and counts down our countries favourite beers from 100 to 1 on Australia Day.

See the full list of 100 beers here

Some feel as though the countdown is a bit boring what with Feral Hop Hog and Stone & Wood Pacific Ale taking out 1st and 2nd position in 2012 and 2013. Incidentally they did it again for 2014 and whilst many predicted this result for the third year running, a pretty impressive achievement even if it’s a bit repetitious, there is a lot that isn’t at all predictable from 3rd to 100th.

Excellent infographic of the 2014 results here

Here is what I noticed from the countdown –

Little Creatures

When Little Creatures was bought by Lion Nathan in 2012 there was some talk of a falling out between craft beer drinkers and LC Pale, the prediction of the end of a great love affair. Yet in this poll by aforementioned craft beer drinkers Little Creatures Pale was voted –

2012 – Little Creatures Pale Ale #3

2013 – Little Creatures Pale Ale #3

2014 – Little Creatures Pale Ale #4

I thought this year may have seen a bigger drop in Fremantle’s favourite brew but it held strong. To think this beer was #1 when the poll first started in 2008 and eight years later it continues to poll in the top 5 is fairly remarkable.

Little Creatures at Gourmet Escape 2012

On a side note Little Creatures Bright Ale jumped up 29 positions to #51. That’s huge! I have no idea what would cause this jump, I know personally I have had an on/off relationship with Bright. When it first came out I loved it, dare I say it, it was my favourite LC beer. Then I went off it, I found it too lolly sweet and now, probably in the last twelve months, I have actually enjoyed a few pint bottles of it.

Another great analysis of results can be found here at Crafty Pint

Mash Copy Cat

I genuinely wasn’t sure where this beer would poll, trying to weigh up the accolades both beer and brewery collected in 2014 with the fact that it’s a WA beer in a poll generally dominated by VIC . I think to debut at #16 is pretty impressive, equal to the impressive nature of the beer itself I reckon.

How WA Breweries Performed

Feral took the most positions with six beers in the poll followed by four beers from Little Creatures and three from Nail Brewing.

Feral Beers

 

Tasting Paddle at Feral Brewing

How I voted

I was happy to see that three of the five beers I voted for made it into the list –

#33 – Feral Watermelon Warhead

#66 – Nail – Red Ale

#70 – La Sirene – Wild Saison

My Votes - Hottest 100 Beers 2014

How I voted

Whilst I knew Cheeky Monkey was an unlikely show in the poll since their distribution isn’t much greater than WA, I was still eager to vote for it because it was such a stupidly delicious beer.

GABS 2015 will be in May hitting Melbourne and Sydney, check out the website for more info.

GABS Beers

The Great Australasian Beer Spectapular aka GABS is one of the best beer events on the Australian calendar and part of the festival involves ‘GABS Beers’, beers brewed specially for the festival. The result of a brief like this is more than 100 totally unique beers to make your Untappd check in’s skyrocket.

La Sirene’s Praline scored the highest of the GABS beers at #5 and I am super stoked I bought one from Mane Liquor when I saw it. It’s also one of the few beers I didn’t try when I was at GABS last year.

GABS Booklet 2014

See? No scratchy notes = I didn’t try La Sirene Praline at GABS 2014

Another good read can be found here at Beer is Your Friend where Glen gives his thoughts on the countdown.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Two Birds Taco place at #13, not bad considering it was a GABS beer in 2013 before being made available in bottles in about April 2014. Clearly the bottled beer was an equal success and probably able to reach more hands than at GABS because it climbed 12 places from 2013.

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If you like beer, whatever beer, get in and vote next year!

Did anything stand out to you about the poll? Any surprises? Did all your beers get into the countdown?

Girl + GABS

This year saw 90 unique beers hit the taps! Combined with lots of old favourites from dozens upon dozens of brewers, it was enough to blow my Untappd count into the next century (if I could be bothered updating it frequently of course!)

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The Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, aka GABS, was held at the Melbourne Royal Exhibition Hall on Friday 24th – Sunday 26th May. It coincided with the last three days of Good Beer Week so I deliberately didn’t booked any GBW events for my partner and I on Saturday so it could be our “GABS day”.

GABS is the brain child of Steve and Guy, the guys behind The Local Taphouse venues in Darlinghurst and St Kilda. I had the pleasure of meeting Steve and Guy when I visited GABS. They are obviously passionate about craft beer and about providing the right platform for consumers to enjoy, discover and share.

Thursday GABS

So, what is GABS? I’m glad you asked – it’s a beer festival that celebrates brewing creativity. At the heart of the festival are the GABS beers – those which are brewed specially for the festival. This year saw 90 unique beers hit the taps! Combined with lots of old favourites from dozens upon dozens of brewers, it was enough to blow my Untappd count into the next century (if I could be bothered updating it frequently of course!). And it wasn’t just Australian brewers showing off, breweries from the United States, the UK, Italy and Aussie neighbours New Zealand also showed off their brewing flair.

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The folk at GABS were kind enough to provide me with a media pass for the event and our friends at Eagle Bay Brewing provided my partner with a ticket. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I love the beer community, their generosity knows no bounds. Thank you Steve and Guy, thank you Margi and Adrian.

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Best Beer of GABS

The “best of” categories fell into two categories – People’s Choice and Brewer’s Choice.

My vote for the People’s Choice Best Beer of GABS went to the collaboration brew from Moon Dog / Nøgne Ø – Selvmordstokt, a cherry wheat porter. Gorgeous black cherry, coconut and chocolate, a little funky and a whole lot yummy.

The winner was Bacchus Brewing White Chocolate Raspberry Pilsner and sadly one I didn’t have! I did try their White Chocolate Pilsner at Dejavu as part of Pint of Origin and very much enjoyed it. I even thought it had a touch of raspberry to it, perhaps it was my palate trying to tell me something about the future. Congratulations to Bacchus, hopefully we see this make it into their regular line up for more folks to enjoy.

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The winner of the Brewer’s Choice went to a brewery who must have a hell of a trophy cabinet these days – Feral Brewing for their Barrique O Karma. Being one of my favourite brewers and from my home state, I made sure I didn’t miss out on this one. It had a soft and sweet maltiness and the nose on it was great. Being that it’s based on their Karma Citra, a black IPA, that I have enjoyed many times it’s unsurprising I really liked this one.

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More Beery Highlights

Staying with Feral, their collaboration with Richard from The Wig & Pen (ACT) was appropriately called ‘Pig Pen’ tipping its hat to both breweries (not that pigs wear hats of course … actually maybe some do) it was called a ‘free range ale’. What does this mean? I’m not sure, perhaps it comes from the ingredients reading like a global shopping list or perhaps simply because they didn’t brew it to a specific style. Regardless of the reason it is a very good drop. Slightly tart, refreshing and with great drinkability. It was the first beer I wrote “yum” beside.

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Two Birds Brewing (VIC) Taco, “a hoppy wheat beer with inspiration” or as I wrote it “wheat beer with omf”. Twitter and crackbook had provided a few insights into this beer so I knew to expect lime and coriander and that’s exactly what I got. It was inspired after eating fish tacos in San Diego and so I’m not sure whether I read this and expected to taste corn chips or whether I really could taste corn chips. Either way, damn good beer!

Birra Del Borgo (ITA) won me over with their fabulous name – Myrtle’s Bunga Bunga Party. A spiced ale that was just lovely with honey and almost nectar sweetness. Also oddly moreish.

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Speaking of fun names, Cacao Cabana from Eagle Bay (WA) and The Monk (WA) had a smushed banana flavour going on with soft chocolate notes buried inside. It was like peeling back the layers on a dessert!

Gary the White from Colonial Brewing (WA) was a white stout, dry and rich, the flavours were all strangely familiar packaged in the unexpected. Fab!

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The GABS beer from Steve ‘Hendo’ Henderson’s Brewcult had been a bit of a talking point in the lead up to the event. A collaboration brew with Steve’s brother, a craft vinegar maker, it was described as porter infused with barrel aged balsamic vinegar. The aptly named “Acid Freaks” had the beer geeks intrigued. I had met Hendo by chance a few days earlier and asked how Acid Freaks had turned out. He simply replied that he didn’t want to say too much and inadvertently influence peoples opinions but he would say he was happy with it. My notes read: “soft tang, weirdly stunning”. The all important balance of sweet and bitter was spot on. God I hope he sends some to WA.

Taking me back to my childhood, the Duckstein (WA) Porter tasted like lamingtons. I love beers that evoke my memories and this beer did exactly that.

So many beers …. god that was amazing! Thank you GABS, loved every minute!

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I’d make an excellent monk…

More specifically I’d make a great Belgian monk circa 1800s. Why? Cause much of their time was spent making beer and making cheese

… aside from lots of the God stuff and the no hanky panky rule (I don’t actually call it that but I’m very aware that parental eyes look over this from time to time). But that aside, I think specifically I’d make a great Belgian monk circa 1800s. Why? Cause much of their time was spent making beer and making cheese, two of my favourite things! I guess I would have been a pretty fat monk with a heart condition too. Oh well.

Considering my love for beer and cheese I eagerly got tickets to the Good Beer Week event at the Local Taphouse St Kilda, entitled ‘A beer and cheese experience’.

The Beer and Cheese Experience was five beers matched to cheese and presented by James Smith of the Local Taphouse (there must be something about a love of craft beer and this name!) and Pascal Tremblay from Calendar Cheese Company.

We arrived early, being the eager beavers we were, and picked our seats at the long, long table.

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1. Mornington Peninsula Cask Conditioned Brown Ale (VIC) with Meli Melo (France)

With this match James and Pascal tried to “think outside the mould”, I’m not sure how many people actually heard those words but I am sure I did and damn I am a sucker for a good pun!

Our hosts were hoping the beer and cheese would compliment, rather than contrast or cut through. They were right! The toffee, dark fruit sweetness bought out the sweetness in the cheese. I thought textually they were nicely matched too, the lack of carbonation in the beer making for a really smooth mouthfeel with the semi-hard cheese.

I loved the nutty, mushroom rind on the cheese, which was a blend of both goat and sheep’s milk cheese, that just hinted at being creamy without actually being creamy (if that makes any sense to anyone outside my own head).

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2. Budejovicky Budvar (CZE) with Coolea (IRE)

They had surprised us by opening with a fair full flavoured pairing in the cask conditioned ale and Meli Melo before this one which was a much softer pairing. It was, of course, a deliberate act so that we “started the night with a bang” explained Pascal.

So the first pairing was a wake up call for the palate, now it was time to cleanse a little.

“Every beer in the world is trying to be a pilsner and failing epically at it”, James.

I’d almost forgotten what a nice clean pilsner Budvar was.

The cheese was a Dutch style Gouda that was sweet, a little fruity and I thought had a little melon in there too. It was a beautiful match to the pilsner with it’s subtle spices and it effortlessly washed over the thick mouth feel from the cheese.

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3. Manchester Marble Lagonda IPA (UK) with Healey’s Pyengana Cheddar (TAS)

This match was inspired by the English tradition of the ploughman’s lunch, the staples of which are cheese, chutney and accompanied by a beer.

The Lagonda IPA is made with all English hops and malt and arguably this style is a classic match to a good strong cheddar.

This match worked a treat, fruity spicy hops with the rich fruity cheddar with hints of white pepper. The cheese also had a sharp tang not unlike the hop bitterness at the end of the beer.

The cheese was also textually fun – hard but slightly crumbly and I thoroughly enjoyed pulling it apart.

A few years ago when I co-hosted a beer and cheese event at Five Bar with Nick Bath of Blue Cow Cheese, I remember his words of advice around tasting cheese. He emphasised that it was an experience for all your senses, not just your taste buds. He encouraged everyone to pick up the cheese with their
hands, play with it, smell it and look closely before eating it. That advice has stayed with me since.

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4. Abbaye Notre-Dame D’Orval Orval (BEL) with Mauri’s Taleggio (ITA)

I’ve only just discovered taleggio (thank you Tiff @beergirlbites) so it was great to get a little more insight into this style of cheese. Pascal’s advice was only to buy cave ripened taleggio, not only for authenticity but because it creates a richer, deeper flavour. I can’t wait to sound like a cheese expert when buying my next bit of taleggio!

The beer, Orval, is not one I’ve had since I was 19. Back then I was only just getting into my beers and I hated this beer. I’ve often described it as ‘the worst taste ever but then the after taste is even worse’.

My how things change. This Belgian Trappist beer is funky, it has some oranges and spice happening together with soft tropical fruits.

The cheese was really rich with vegetable flavours, in particular I found cooked cauliflower. The tropical hop flavours bought out the sharpness in the cheese whilst the beers spicy notes went well with the cheeses vegetable flavours.

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5. Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Bigfoot Barleywine (USA) with Cashel Farmhouse Blue (EIRE)

Ok, it was time to break out the big guns. The Bigfoots port, raisin, spicy fruit cake flavours were going to bump uglies with a creamy, ballsy and slightly ashy blue cheese.

Rich for rich, bold for bold, sweet for sweet, it was a clash of titans with a delicious result.

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Thank you Local Taphouse for another top night!

Ashley, James (below left) and Pascal (below right) – thank you all very much, it was a pleasure!

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