Vote for your favourite Australian beer in our poll at the end of this article.
IT'S a bold claim, and at the risk of starting a national argument that may end in a frenzy of thong slapping, here is our list of the 10 best beers in the land which will see you through this Australia day just ‘noice.’
In Tassie the rivers flow with Cascade Premium. No just jokin’ – that is the stuff of an ideal world. This fizz, however, does come with the lofty, romantic claim to have been brewed on the edge of the planet. Obviously no one has told the brewer the one about balls not having edges, but I digress. Really it is the golden amber colour of this beer and its malty palate balanced with spicy hop aromas and refreshing clean finish that keeps punters coming back for more. The malt used for Cascade Premium comes from the best of the Tasmanian grown barley which is malted by the Cascade brewery itself.
Staking its claim as the original craft beer, this full-bodied, malty beer with a toffee-caramel sweetness and nutty finish balanced against citrus hop notes is still a firm favourite. This is the ale many claim has spoilt them for taste and made other beers insipid in comparison. Another claim to fame is the unique inclusion of original 125 year old, top fermenting ale yeast used in the production.The bad boy of Australian brewing, James Squire’s life story is one that proves that fortune favours the rouge. And the brand relishes the rouge. So for all you beer drinking rouges out there, this could be your brew.
Affectionately known as a ‘Crownie’ this is arguably Australia's first and most popular premium lager. This prestige beer was first brewed in 1919 as 'Foster's Crown Lager' and was initially exclusive only to visiting dignitaries that came to these shores. During the first royal visit of Queen Elizabeth ll to Australia in 1954, Carlton & United Breweries, marked the occasion releasing Crown Lager and the people’s ‘Crownie’ was born. The ‘Crownie’ is characterised by its clean, smooth bitterness and distinct finish. Try one on a 30-degree plus day for best effect. And taste aside, who can resist that classy, long, elegant gold neck. But that might be a chick thing.
I know, I’ve revealed my inner Bogan here. But what Australian when they first move out of home hasn’t lied to their mother and told her they are getting their greens - plenty of them in fact, all-be-it in liquid form? While VB’s inclusion in this list may be justified more by sales figures than taste, I suspect that many fellow country men and women harbour warm feelings towards this familiar green fellow and their mis-spent youth. Contented sigh.
Cloudy looking due to yeast residue doesn't inspire the greatest confidence when approaching this beer for the first time. But once you have sucked back your first one, residue and all, the refreshing, flavoursome and unique Australian beer will have you hooked. In fact this beer has been described as reassuring as home-baked bread. To get the full flavour impact of this cloudy nector, tip the bottle on its side before opening and let that residue infiltrate. Delicious.
I can feel a little parochialism creeping in. Beer made in the same town as I live will always make the list especially when it is this good. I can remember writing a story about this beer when it first came on the market. The makers, Rebellion Brewery, gave us a slab for the free publicity. It was delicious then and still is. Here is a beer that pays homage to history as Rat Bitter Ale is in the style of the old Ballarat Bitter, affectionately known as Ballarat Bertie. Plus you simply must love a beer with the catchphrase “for those who 'give a rats' about their beer!” Thirst quenching, cleansing, full-bodied, brewed in Ballarat – what more do you need to know?
Not to be outdone is another Taswegian on the list. Smooth and sophisticated, Cascade’s little brother has come a long way from its origins at what Paul Keating might refer to as…ummm...the far flung antipodes. This is a beer with the lot: pale straw colour; finely beaded bubbles; fresh fruity aroma; malty notes; discernible, but not overpowering, hop aroma; a subtle but pleasant bitterness; a crisp dry finish; and, get this, an ephemeral aftertaste (brief, but delicious afterglow). Getting thirsty?
A quick hands up around the office showed this beer to be the current sweetheart of many beer drinkers - within a 20 metre radius of my desk at least. According to the brewer, the secret is they chuck bag loads of whole hop flowers, sourced throughout the world, into it throughout the brewing process. This gives the ale its unique, intense citrus and stone fruit characters which are balanced with speciality malts and local pale malt. The makers gave birth to their little creature after being inspired by a hop driven pale ale they tried in the north west of the US. They went on to create this Australian classic with more floral aromas than a garden in late spring, but plenty of complexity and bitterness as well.
And while we’re on about boutique breweries, (try to say that fast ten times while chugging a beer) Mountain Goat Beer is a standout for its English influenced offering, Hightail Ale. With so many breweries producing US inspired ale, Hightail remains a breath of fresh toffee scented air. This is a pale ale driven by malts more than hops which gives it the toffee scented aroma. Scottish magazine Pints of View described it as “ale that kicks like a mountain goat” while more conservative The Age in Melbourne said it had “a robust, fruity flavour, and was both well rounded and lively on the palate” A big beer which can move - we likey!
To ensure that this is indeed a national list we have included one from the Sandgropers to our west. This aptly named beer is one the brew-nerd’s love, with its full-on use of bittering and aromatic hops. This feral beast literally explodes with citrusy flavours and hop aromas, rounded out with a solid malt background. Again in the style of an American India Pale Ale, these are the suds that make visiting Americans feel like they never left home. With its bold flavour, Hop Hog India Pale Ale has been the winner of the Critic’s Choice Top 100 Craft Beers for the last four years in a row, cementing its position as a top drop and making it an absolute little Aussie beer champion.