Gold Coast Brewery Balter’s XPA has been named as the number one beer in the GABS Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers of 2017.

The brewery, which is part-owned by champion surfers Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Josh Kerr and Bede Durbidge, led a top five which was made up entirely of independent breweries. Over the past 12 months a number of popular craft breweries have been bought up by larger companies including 4Pines and Pirate, which were bought by AB InBev and Feral Brewing which Coca-Cola Amatil bought.

The best performing non-independent brewery was Pirate Life which had seven beers in the top 100 and its Mosaic IPA took out sixth place. Overall 71 per cent of the beers in the Hottest 100, including nine of the top 10, came from independently owned breweries.

Rounding out the top five, behind the Balter XPA were Stone & Wood’s Pacific Ale, a three-time winner of the poll which has also been a consistent top three beer since 2010 and was second this year. In third place was Crankshaft, an American-style IPA from BentSpoke Brewing Co in Canberra, followed by Young Henrys’ Australian Pale Ale Newtowner in fourth and Gage Roads’ International Pale Ale Single Fin.

GABS Co-Founder Steve Jeffares told TheShout that he believes independence is a factor among craft beer aficionados it will be interesting to see how it plays out in future polls.

“The role that independents play is a very topical one and I am also involved with a small committee that is working with the Independent Brewers Association to develop and launch a Seal of Independence. The IBA believes that this is going to be one way that independent breweries can differentiate themselves,” Jeffares said.

“I think it is starting to bubble up as a topic, but you need to take into account that a lot of the people involved in these large surveys do have a strong interest in craft beer. But I do think independence is a topic that is becoming more and more relevant to a small but growing number of consumers.

“All the breweries that have been acquired over the last 12 months or so fell this year, but they also had results that any brewery would realistically be happy with. I do think it has an impact, but we’ve got a sample of one, so let’s see what’s going to happen next year – although who knows what will happen over the next 12 months.

“The Hottest 100 has given really interesting insights over the last decade on how fast changing this sector of the industry is and this year was no different in my opinion. It’s very telling that CUB/AB InBev have moved from a possible two beers in the top 100 to nine simply through acquisitions.”

Jeffares added that this year’s Hottest 100, which received a record number of votes, reflects just how vibrant and exciting Australia’s craft beer scene is right now.

“Since it’s very early days at The Local Taphouse, the Hottest 100 Craft Beers poll has always aimed to be a fun and simple way for beer enthusiasts to celebrate their favourite beers of the year, whether that’s a more mainstream ‘go-to’ beer, or a limited release they might have only been able to experience over a brewpub bar,” he said.

“What we’ve seen over the 10 years of the poll is that it’s become so much more, revealing the ever-changing tastes of the Australian craft beer lover.”

“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.”

As well as having a new beer take out the top spot this year’s list saw an impressive 24 new beers make their debut, including seven beers in the increasingly popular New England, or hazy IPA style.

Overall over 2000 beers from more than 250 breweries were nominated in the poll, which was up 21 per cent on last year.

The top 100 saw 47 different brewers represented with New South Wales just edging out Victoria as the most popular state, with 27 beers from 13 breweries compared to 24 beers from 15 breweries for the Garden State. There were seven beers from three breweries for the ACT, Queensland had 15 beers from five breweries, there were 11 South Australian beers from five breweries and nine beer from four breweries for Western Australia. The remaining seven beers were WA and Victoria combined.

The full list of winners:

  1. ‘XPA’ American Pale Ale (Balter, QLD)*
  2. ‘Pacific Ale’ Australian Pale Ale (Stone & Wood, NSW)*
  3. ‘Crankshaft’ American IPA (BentSpoke, ACT)*
  4. ‘Newtowner’ Australian Pale Ale (Young Henrys, NSW)*
  5. ‘Single Fin’ International Pale Ale (Gage Roads, WA)*
  6. ‘Mosaic’ American IPA (Pirate Life, SA) NEW
  7. ‘IPA’ American IPA (Balter, QLD)* NEW
  8. ‘Jedi Juice’ New England IPA (Hop Nation, VIC)* NEW GABS
  9. ‘Beechworth Pale Ale’ American Pale Ale (Bridge Road, VIC)*
  10. ‘KRUSH!’ American Pale Ale (KAIJU!, VIC)*
  11. ‘Little Dove’ International Pale Ale (Gage Roads, WA)*
  12. ‘Former Tenant’ Red IPA (Modus Operandi, NSW)*
  13. ‘IIPA’ Double IPA (Pirate Life, SA)
  14. ‘Hop Hog’ American Pale Ale (Feral, WA)
  15. ‘IPA’ American IPA (Pirate Life, SA)
  16. ‘Pale Ale’ American Pale Ale (4 Pines, NSW)
  17. ‘Juicy’ New England IPA (3 Ravens, VIC)* NEW
  18. ‘Future Factory’ Double IPA (Modus Operandi, NSW)* NEW
  19. ‘Back To The Brewer’ New England IPA (Mountain Goat, VIC) NEW
  20. ‘Pale Ale’ Australian Pale Ale (Black Hops, QLD)* NEW
  21. ‘Sonic Prayer’ American IPA (Modus Operandi, NSW)*
  22. ‘One Fifty Lashes’ Australian Pale Ale (James Squire, NSW)
  23. ‘Pale Ale’ American Pale Ale (Pirate Life, SA)
  24. ‘Sprocket’ American IPA (BentSpoke, ACT)* NEW
  25. ‘Coast Ale’ California Common (Capital, ACT)*
  26. ‘Pale Ale’ American Pale Ale (Little Creatures, WA/VIC)
  27. ‘Barley Griffin’ Australian Pale Ale (BentSpoke, ACT)*
  28. ‘Trail Pale Ale’ American Pale Ale (Capital, ACT)*
  29. ‘Wild Yak’ Australian Pale Ale (Yak Ales, VIC)
  30. ‘IPA’ American IPA (Fixation, NSW)*
  31. ‘VPA’ American Pale Ale (Nail, WA)*
  32. ‘War Hog’ American IPA (Feral, WA)
  33. ‘XPA’ International Pale Ale (Philter, NSW)* NEW
  34. ‘Vanilla Milk Stout’ Sweet Stout (Thirsty Crow, NSW)*
  35. ‘Atomic’ American Pale Ale (Gage Roads, WA)*
  36. ‘Windjammer’ American IPA (Green Beacon, QLD)*
  37. ‘Kolsch’ Kölsch (4 Pines, NSW)
  38. ‘Furphy Refreshing Ale’ Kölsch (Furphy, VIC)
  39. ‘India Red Ale’ Specialty IPA (Prancing Pony, SA)*
  40. ‘The Matriarch’ New England IPA (CoConspirators, VIC)* NEW
  41. ‘Indian Summer Ale’ Australian Pale Ale (4 Pines, NSW)
  42. ‘Throwback’ American IPA (Pirate Life, SA)
  43. ‘Pilsner’ German Pilsner (Balter, QLD)* NEW
  44. ‘Korben D.’ Double IPA (Akasha, NSW)*
  45. ‘Golden Stout Time’ Sweet Stout (Big Shed, SA)* GABS
  46. ‘Cloud Catcher’ Australian Pale Ale (Stone & Wood, NSW)*
  47. ‘Twisted Palm’ American Pale Ale (Burleigh, QLD)*
  48. ‘Bling’ American IPA (Bridge Road, VIC)*
  49. ‘Three Sheets’ Australian Pale Ale (Lord Nelson, NSW)*
  50. ‘Mount Tennent’ American Pale Ale (Pact, ACT)*
  51. ‘The Mountie’ Specialty Beer (Stockade, NSW)* NEW GABS
  52. ‘Squish’ Specialty IPA (Fixation, NSW)* NEW
  53. ‘Wayfarer’ American Wheat (Green Beacon, QLD)*
  54. ‘Hopsmith’ American IPA (Akasha, NSW)*
  55. ‘Hornet’ American IPA (Black Hops, QLD)* NEW
  56. ‘3 Bolt’ American Pale Ale (Green Beacon, QLD)*
  57. ‘Summer Hop Ale’ American IPA (Young Henrys, NSW)*
  58. ‘Small Ale’ American Pale Ale (Colonial, WA/VIC)*
  59. ‘Pale Ale’ American Pale Ale (Colonial, WA/VIC)*
  60. ‘Steam Ale’ California Common (Mountain Goat, VIC)
  61. ‘Natural Lager’ Pale Kellerbier (Young Henrys, NSW)*
  62. ‘Dark Ale’ Porter (White Rabbit, VIC)
  63. ‘Spearhead’ Australian Pale Ale (Cricketers Arms, VIC)
  64. ‘Fat Yak’ Australian Pale Ale (Yak Ales, VIC)
  65. ‘IPA’ Specialty IPA (Colonial, WA/VIC)*
  66. ‘Pale’ American Pale Ale (Modus Operandi, NSW)*
  67. ‘Dog Days’ Australian Pale Ale (Little Creatures, WA/VIC)
  68. ‘Evil Eye’ Red IPA (Capital, ACT)*
  69. ‘Pale Ale’ Australian Pale Ale (Kosciuszko, NSW)
  70. ‘Taco’ Specialty Beer (Two Birds, VIC)* GABS
  71. ‘Old Mate’ American Pale Ale (Moon Dog, VIC)*
  72. ‘Summer Ale’ Blonde Ale (Mountain Goat, VIC)
  73. ‘Garden Ale’ Australian Pale Ale (Stone & Wood, NSW)*
  74. ‘Hazelnut Brown Ale’ English Brown Ale (Bad Shepherd, VIC)*
  75. ‘Tusk’ Double IPA (Feral, WA)
  76. ‘Hazy Craze’ New England IPA (White Lies, QLD)* NEW
  77. ‘Session IPA’ Specialty IPA (Modus Operandi, NSW)*
  78. ‘Aftermath’ Double IPA (KAIJU!, VIC)*
  79. ‘TPP Strong Pale Ale’ American Pale Ale (Pirate Life [SA] / Ballast Point [USA]) NEW
  80. ‘Vanilla Malt Thickshake’ Winter Seasonal Beer (Pirate Life, SA) NEW GABS
  81. ‘The Punch’ Gose (Hop Nation, VIC)*
  82. ‘Juicy Banger’ Dry Hopped Lager (Blackman’s, VIC)* NEW
  83. ‘Biggie Juice’ New England IPA (Feral, WA) NEW
  84. ‘7 Bells’ Gose (Green Beacon, QLD)* NEW
  85. ‘Blood Orange New England Rye IPA’ New England IPA (Dainton, VIC)* NEW
  86. ‘The Swindler’ Australian Pale Ale (James Squire, NSW) NEW
  87. ‘28’ American Pale Ale (Burleigh, QLD)*
  88. ‘India Pale Lager’ Pale Lager (Beerfarm, WA)*
  89. ‘Bighead’ Pale Lager (Burleigh, QLD)*
  90. ‘Black Metal Disco’ Sweet Stout (Balter, QLD)* NEW
  91. ‘Passion Victim’ Australian Pale Ale (Two Birds, VIC)* NEW
  92. ‘Robust Porter’ Porter (Bridge Road, VIC)*
  93. ‘Session Ale’ Australian Pale Ale (Mismatch, SA)*
  94. ‘Pale’ American Pale Ale (Mornington Peninsula, VIC)*
  95. ‘8bit’ American IPA (Stockade, NSW)*
  96. ‘Alt Brown’ American Brown Ale (Balter, QLD)*
  97. ‘Sparkling Ale’ Australian Sparkling Ale (Coopers, SA)*
  98. ‘Bright Ale’ Australian Pale Ale (Little Creatures, WA/VIC)
  99. ‘Little Bling’ Specialty IPA (Bridge Road, VIC)*
  100. ‘Rogers’ American Amber Ale (Little Creatures, WA/VIC)

* Brewed by an independent brewery (as defined by the Independent Brewers Association)
NEW Brewed for the first time in 2017
GABS A ‘Festival Beer’ brewed especially for GABS Beer, Cider & Food Fest

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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