Voting kicks off today for the annual GABF Hottest 100 craft beers poll.
There is no shortage of craft beer awards these days, between the Australian International Beer Awards, the Craft Beer Industry Association craft beer awards and the various state agricultural associations, as well as the RateBeer and BeerAdvocate lists for best beer in Australia. However, the GABS poll allows beer drinkers to directly vote on the best beers beers of the year.
The controversy surrounding the annual poll is all part of the fun. The very notion of ‘best’ is at once absurd and compelling. Was your ‘best’ beer your favourite – the beer that you constantly found in your hand during the year? Was it the beer that was most consistently good? The most surprising? The most memorable? The best new beer of the year? The most challenging? Do you discount beers that are easily obtainable and vote for the more obscure or only first released in 2015? Do you discount novelty and one-offs and only vote for your top five from beers that are constantly available?
Every voter approaches their list with a different motivation and a different set of criteria, and it is the aggregate of the votes that provides the vital snapshot of the year, the zeitgeist, with the difference between a beer that placed 14 and placed 15 being functionally irrelevant.
Debate around the placement of sociable styles available nationally and stocked widely as compared to outstanding but obscure and esoteric one-off releases is moot too. That Thirsty Crow’s Vanilla Stout fell 11 places in last year’s poll from 2013 matters much less than it was in the top 25 at all, alongside beers from Little Creatures and Riverside Brewing.
The list tells us us both what the most successful beers were, and what the emerging and receding trends are. Inclusions can tell us what was new and attention grabbing this year, while omissions can hint at what was may have been a flash in the pan. It’s not definitive, it’s illustrative. And it’s fun.
The beer word could not be more different from the a jaded political world where people feel disengaged from both the process and the people for whom they vote. The good beer movement is marked by interest and engagement and your vote will directly affect the fortunes of the beers for which you vote or omit.
Join in the fun. Get in and vote…