The craft beer industry is here to stay and changing our Australian drinking culture for the better. The beer spectrum has broadened into a fearless array of experimental craft beers boasting unique ingredient combinations and flavour hybrids.
Today, local brewers are pushing the boundaries with hop profiles and fruit infusions, so you’d be a fool not to step out of your comfort zone and test your taste buds (let’s be real, no one found their new favourite by playing it safe). But with a growing number of craft beers being released quicker than you can say cheers, how do you know what to spend your hard-earned coin on?
Whether it’s a crisp one from the cool room or poured straight from the tap, we’ve teamed up with BWS to bring you four of the best emerging craft beers to wrap your hands around.
A contemporary moniker meaning Extra Pale Ale, the humble XPA is golden in appearance with a moderate to strong hop profile. Generally sitting somewhere between a Pale Ale and an IPA, the XPA is fast becoming an approachable favourite in Aussie drinking circles.
Driving the popularity of the XPA variety is Gold Coast brewery, Balter. Headed up by legendary surfer Mick Fanning and his mates, their sessionable summer XPA has won a string of industry awards, including first place two years in a row at the annual GABS Hottest 100 Craft Beer, which is impressive considering the brewery launched in 2016.
If you’re after a go-to thirst quencher, we recommend trying Little Creatures new XPA. After 18 years in the biz, the famed Western Australian brewery has finally launched an XPA. Dubbed ‘a drinker, not a thinker’, the easy-drinking ale is sure to climb the ranks with its seasonal fruit salad aromas and dry, crisp hoppy finish.
One burgeoning style of craft beer that is growing in popularity is the Milkshake IPA. Brewers are now experimenting with ingredients such as lactose and unfermentable sugars, which result in a thicker, creamier mouthfeel and a hazier aesthetic. Throw in some adjuncts like vanilla and fruit and boom—you have yourself a tasty Milkshake IPA.
While the modern approach began overseas, there are several Australian brewers exploring the variety. We’re vibing a few boozy shakes at the moment but one in particular is Green Beacon’s POG Milkshake IPA. A delicious mix of tropical flavours, including passionfruit, orange and guava, the recently released beer is equally creamy as it is fruity.
One local brewery that has plunged into lactose territories more than once is Pirate Life in South Australia. Brewer Lewis Maschmedt says Milkshake IPAs are considered a luxury brew because they're big, rich and decadent in nature, “I think consumers are drawn to them because they are fun and able to carry flavours that wouldn’t suit the average beer, like vanilla.”
If you’re after something a little different, be sure to keep an eye out for Pirate Life’s Vanilla Malt Thickshake IPA. Back by popular demand and set for limited release in March, Pirate Life’s Vanilla Malt Thickshake IPA boasts a hefty creaminess and is an homage to an Aussie childhood. “Most people are blown away by the way it looks and tastes, and the familiar flavours, paired with a gentle bitterness, make it an easy introduction beer,” Maschmedt explains. “It really does have a thickshake-like flavour and texture.”
Sours certainly aren’t anything new, but they’ve experienced a huge resurgence over the past decade. What was once hard to find in the cool room is now a celebrated style among beer beginners and seasoned drinkers alike. From limited releases to core ranges, most brewers have a sour in their portfolio or have at least dabbled in the variety.
Inoculated with the kind of souring bacteria that’s okay to consume, sours take a fun, scientific and experimental approach to beer. Predominantly brewed with two types of bacteria, lactobacillus and pediococcus, and one type of wild yeast, known as brettanomyces, sours can range from a subtle acidity to an overpowering, tarty punch.
Among the hefty number of new sours released over recent years, Stomping Ground’s Watermelon Smash, which can also be referred to as a Watermelon Gose, is one of our year-round go-tos. Released in early 2018 and packed with loads of fresh watermelon, it’s a sour with an impressive amount of grunt. But if you’re after something a little more subtle, we recommend Colonial Brewing Co’s South West Sour. Brewed in the Margaret River, the sour is as soft and sweet as the peachy can its stored in. Also released in early 2018, the brew has developed quite the cult following and has transitioned from a limited edition to one of Colonial Brewing Co’s core brews. It’s undoubtedly a gateway beer to the sour revolution and a refreshing summer bevvy.
Often people relate hemp with stoners and weed culture, but what people might not know is that hemp and hops are related species with similar flavours and aromas. When added to beer, it offers a fruity aroma, long bitterness and a grassy finish – and no, it won’t get you high.
Up until late 2017, regulations around the ingredient prevented brewers from experimenting commercially but when the ingredient was shown to contain minimal to no THC levels it was legalised and brewers quickly jumped on it.
One of the first Australian brewers to hop on the hemp bandwagon was Newtown brewery Young Henrys. Joining forces with Byron Bay clothing label—and hemp enthusiasts—Afends, the team developed and refined their experimental hemp brew and released it in limited batches.
What’s great about hemp is the fact that it needs little water and grows quickly, so it’s considered sustainable and eco-friendly. But the imperative question is: does it taste good? Well, it depends on your palette, of course, but if you’re an IPA fan, the answer is yes. Described as a big sticky number with a dank aroma of citrus, stone fruits and spice berry, the Young Henrys team say its biscuit and toasted bread flavours balance out the vegetal notes from the hemp oil and hash. If you haven’t cracked one yet, don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
If all this craft beer talk has left you thirsty, enjoy the best of Australian Craft from store to door with BWS On Demand. Australia's best craft beers, spirits and wine delivered to your door in no time through BWS delivery.
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