The results for The Local Taphouse’s Hottest 100 Craft Beers of 2010 poll are in with South Australia’s Vale Ale taking out the top spot.
Interestingly, and perhaps reflecting the strong campaign run this year by the company “utilising social media and its extensive email database”, Vale Ale – which has been available since 2007 – didn’t feature in the Top 100 in either the 2008 or 2009 lists, nor in the Rate Beer Top 50 list. The brewing company’s Dry Lager (#9) was also one of only two lagers in the top 20, beating Knappstein Reserve Lager which fell from ninth position last year to 17th in this year’s poll.
Such anomalous results show that with any list of this nature it is the broad trends revealed by the poll rather than placement of individual beers that are of most relevance. The best trend to come from the current Hottest 100 is that nearly 500 different Australian craft beers received votes this year, up from 450 last year. This is a response that could not have occurred a decade ago and highlights the growing breadth and diversity of the Australian brewing scene.
This year’s Hottest 100 confirms – if any conformation was needed – that hops are the driving force in craft beer. Eight of the top ten beers are hop driven ales, predominantly pale and India pale ales. It also confirms Little Creatures Pale Ale’s position as one of the most highly regarded and influential beers in Australia.
Despite the importance of hops, it is interesting to note that the top 10 is largely devoid of ‘hop monsters’. Depending on how the definitions are drawn (and this is wildly subjective), around fifty per cent of the featured beers fall into the loose category of ‘sessional’ beers as opposed to bigger and one-off brews.
Depending on your personal lupulin tolerance and preferences, nine of the top ten fall into this category, with Feral Hop Hop (#4, up from #7 last year) being the outlier in the category. This is compared to the 50 Best Beers in Australia list compiled by beer ratings site, ratebeer.com, of which half of the first ten are Imperial or strong styles and strong and dark beers predominate. The only overlap between the two lists’ top 10s are Little Creatures Pale Ale and Feral Hop Hog.
There are obvious differences to approach in the RateBeer.com list which is a running list, compared to the Taphouses’ annual approach. RateBeer is taken from a much larger pool of ratings over a longer period. Beer lovers who join RateBeer and regularly rate brews on the site could be characterised as being more ‘serious’ than casual voters, which could skew their preferences towards the larger and more memorable styles.
Ultimately, the greatest thing about the annual Hottest 100 is that it gives us something to discuss over a quality Australian craft beer on Australia’s national day.
The Hottest 100 poll was sponsored by CraftyPint.com.