The Best, Weirdest and Most Controversial New Australian Craft Beers to Try in 2016
Beers made with peanut brittle, pork broth and belly button yeast.
Aussie craft beer lovers might be feeling it in their livers this week. They've just gone through two weeks of craft beer glory around the country, starting with from Melbourne's Good Beer Week and the Australian International Beer Awards and culminating in the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, the epic two-day beer festival held in both Melbourne and Sydney.
A record number of 27,600 people attended the events, which showcased over 400 types of local craft beers and ciders. That's a lot of tasting notes. And since it all started to get a bit hazy by the end, we've put together a list of the best, weirdest and most controversial new Australian beers we discovered at GABS 2016. Let's just hope these make it to market.
BACCHUS BREWING CO. (QLD)
Festival beer: Peanut Brittle Gose
The Queensland brewery was a clear favourite of the festival, taking home the GABS People's Choice Award for Best Festival Beer in both Melbourne and Sydney. The Gose style originated in 14th century Germany, but their version is not sour and salty like the classic — it packs a peanut butter and caramel toffee punch. This creative and delicious combo made for a true standout.
WAYWARD BREWING CO. (NSW)
Festival beer: Funky Pineapple Hand Grenade Brett IPA
Fans were calling this drop the second best beer of GABS — and for good reason. The beer bursts with tropical pineapple, mango, peach and citrus, making it a great homage to the warmer weather. This is not to say it's a simple one to make, though. Fermenting with 100 percent funky Brettanomyces yeast, the beer has a distinct flavour which is balanced by a silky finish.
HOP NATION BREWING CO. (VIC)
Festival beer: The Kalash Russian imperial stout
Despite the brewery's name, Hop Nation didn't win us over with a hoppy beer this year. Instead, they went the Russian imperial route, and The Kalash is just so damn good. Aged in oak puncheons for five months, the beer has bitter chocolate, coffee and toffee notes that are perfect for this winter chill. The smooth, roasted finish might fool your tastebuds, but the 10 percent alcohol value catches up fast.
AKASHA BREWING CO. (NSW)
Festival beer: Iago's Revenge black IPA
Since opening in Sydney last year, Akasha always seems to be on Australian craft beer watch lists. This dark brew is Akasha's hoppiest yet, while still holding to its roasted malt backbone. Rested on American oak and whisky barrels, the IPA gives off citrus, pine and resin aroma — and at a massive 9.8 percent, this complex beer will just as readily knock you on your ass as well as your nose.
Festival beer: Project #21 - The Reuben Sandwich rye IPA
A collaboration with fellow West Australians West Winds Gin, Colonial Brewing refers to this one as "an iconic sandwich in one hand, a martini in the other". It's a complex — and weird — concept for a beer. Brewed using gin botanicals, the beer is spicy, fruity and a bit tart. And while we didn't get much of the Reuben flavour off it, it sure did make us hungry for one.
BATCH BREWING COMPANY (NSW)
Festival beer: Marrickville Pork Roll
Described as a "spice, herb or vegetable beer", Batch went all-out with the ingredients on this one — coriander, chilli, cucumbers and carrots all went into the brew, as did pork broth and a citrusy hop called Sorachi Ace. Fashioned after a bánh mí thit in Sydney's inner west, there's no denying the pork roll flavours. But, nonetheless, it's still a really tasty, well made beer.
PRICKLY MOSES (VIC)
Festival beer: Faulty Towers basil IPA
Better known for their ace ciders, Prickly Moses gave patrons an unexpected dose of herb this year. There is no doubt that fresh basil went into the brew, as it hits you both on the nose and palate — a bi-product of it being used both in the mash and during fermentation. Hoppy, bold and herbal, this beer really works and is one of our favourite wackier brews.
THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL
7 CENT BREWERY (VIC)
Festival beer: Belly Button Beer
If you're hoping this isn't what it sounds like, stop reading here. The beer was fermented using yeast found hiding out in the brewer's belly button — for how long we do not know (nor do we want to know). Belly Button Beer received global curiosity and disgust well before its appearance at GABS, and most couldn't help but give it a try. It's a weird one — the kind of funk orange zest and coriander seeds can not disguise.
DOCTOR'S ORDERS BREWING (NSW)
Festival beer: Mutagenic Cephalopod Gose
The name alone means you simply must try this one, and the ingredients are a truly bizarre combination. Infused with seaweed, smoked mushroom salt, chipotle oil and — wait for it — squid ink, we're not sure how the brewers dreamt this one up. The beer is tart and also tinged green in colour — making it a seaweed green, squid ink beer. Despite the controversy, many still thoroughly enjoyed the brew and the novelty behind it.
SHENANIGANS BREWING (NSW)
Festival beer: Sabotage oatmeal stout
Nothing polarises quite like a chilli beer — folks either love them or absolutely hate them. In Shenanigans' case, the divide was evenly split. While we personally loved it, a lot of patrons had a hard time with the chilli, either claiming it was way too spicy or that they couldn't taste it at all. Brewed with organic coconut sugar, cacao and coffee beans, and then aged on bourbon oak, the controversial chocolate jolokia ghost chilli was unforgivable to some and praised by others.
Want to know more? Check out the complete list of the Festival Beers
Published on June 02, 2016 by Marissa Ciampi