Australians couldn’t give XXXX what you think about their love of snooty craft beer.
According to Roy Morgan research, we’re drinking more of it than ever. As of March, 1.04 million Australians admit they’re happy to pay more for better beer, an increase from 3.5% to 5.7% in the past years.
That figure defies the national trend for overall consumption of “mainstream” beer, which fell from 6.1 million Aussies (36.7%) who blew the froth off at least once in any given four weeks, to 5.8 million (31.9%).
The consumption of import beer also continued to climb from 14% to 17.3% of the population.
Roy Morgan’s Angela Smith said heavy representation for the craft beer drinkers came, unsurprisingly, from the “New School Cool” community – Roy Morgan’s “well educated, high income, inner city living and working, very social, tech savvy”.
“The New School Cool persona has the highest proportion of craft beer drinkers: 20% of these hip, young inner-city dwellers drink craft beer at least once in an average four-week period, compared to nearly 6% of total Australian adults,” Smith said.
“As quality is typically more important than price for New School Cool, it follows that they’d opt for a craft beer over the more mass-produced mainstream alternative.”
New South Wales (home of James Squire) and Queensland have taken to craft beer with particular zeal; some might say that’s also not surprising, given the “unique nature” of their local mainstream products.
Between 2010 and 2014, NSW’s craft beer drinkers grew by 186,000 people, while in Queensland an extra 99,000 developed a taste for it.
If you’re thinking of jumping on the craft beer bandwagon, you could do worse than start with this magnificent 15, selected by our own dedicated beerspert, Simon Thomsen.
This golden ale with honey and citrus notes, from the winery crew at Otway Estate, also has a conservation aspect: all profits from this beer go to the Conservation Ecology Centre at Cape Otway to help save the endangered tiger quoll. Drink up and preserve wildlife. About $4 a bottle.
These Newtown lads make a fine core range of 3 beers – English-style bitter and IPA, plus lager, as well as farmhouse cider – that are all work seeking out, especially in 2lt “growler” bottles (think double-Darwin stubby).
Where they really have fun is collaborations – limited-run beers made with exotic ingredients, such as mussels, clams.
This glorious wheat beer uses Tongan vanilla, which is more on the nose than palate, and has coriander and orange peel notes. It’s $27 a growler, but if that’s gone, look for the cherry beer currently brewing.
At 7.4% alcohol, this heavily hopped and bitter red India pale ale (so get the name?) has a surprising tropical fruit nose and is likely to lead to an afternoon nap if you add it to a lunch session.
Perth's clever, award-winning Feral Brewing Co. make a bunch of interesting beers, so look for the Feral name and you won’t go wrong.
Like a fresh nor’easter hitting Watego’s Beach, we love the fresh, crisp fruitiness of this cloudy golden ale from Stone & Wood in Byron Bay.
It’s the sort of beer that makes you want to sit on the beach, staring out to sea, with the cricket on the radio, as you neck a couple and contemplate how good summer feels. $4
These Beechworth brewers, in Ned Kelly country, are located in an historic old stables and serve damned fine pizzas too.
The Chevalier Saison is a citrussy and grassy Belgian farmhouse-style beer is traditionally drunk in summer. And drunk and drunk. About $14 for a 750ml bottle.
Craft beer in a can?! Bloody brilliant, and handy, we reckon, especially when it comes to taking your picnic rubbish home with you.
A new release from this inner Melbourne duo, Dave and Cam, the Mountain Goat Summer Ale is hoppy and aromatic and slides down easily. 4.7%. $4 a can or grab a slab for $72.
Who said blokes should have all the fun when it comes to beer? In 2011, Jayne Lewis and Danielle Allen, mates from Perth, kicked off their own brewery in Geelong (Jayne's ex-Mountain Goat) before relocating to Melbourne.
They make two brews: a golden ale, and this homage to the ocean sunsets of their old home town - a malty amber ale with lots of tropical and citrus notes, combined with malty, toffee flavours and a crisp bitterness to finish. The perfect sundowner. 4.6%. $4.50.
We had a very merry Christmas after a bottle of this Trappist-syle tripel – a seriously heavy duty dark ale to go with plum pudding, or another English batting collapse - weighing in at 11.3%. It’s a bit like beer and rum in the one glass, with lots of pudding and spice flavours from the Little Brewing Company in Port Macquarie.
They make a small, single batch run in mid-winter, and it will age nicely for up to 3 years. $10.
The name invokes the empty stubbies that all-too-often little the roadside on the way to Broken Hill, but the inspiration behind Paul Holgate’s citrusy, golden, 5.8% IPA was a road trip in America, which is where the hops used hail from.
His pub and brewery in Wooden in the Macedon Ranges is worth a road trip too, especially to enjoy the beers on tap. $7 for a 500ml bottle.
This Russian Imperial Stout made in WA by Nail Brewing isn’t for the faint-hearted of liver or wallet. It weighs in at 10.7% alcohol and a 750ml bottle is $70.
Its sweetness makes it worth drinking with Christmas pudding and the packaging means you could buy one, pop it under the tree and pretend Santa gave it to you.
The legendary Chuck Hahn set up this 600 litre microbrewery at Jindabyne’s Banjo Patterson Inn nearly five years ago and now makes some of this floral, coriander-tinged and malty pale ale back at his Camperdown HQ.
It’s really refreshing, when in snow or a heatwave. About $4.50 a bottle.
Now this is really is a home brew from the Mornington Peninsula: Red Hill grew their own hops on site, then steeped them in the condition vats to produce this malty, copper-coloured English-style bitter with wonderful complexity and a mix of sweet, pepper and resin notes. 6.1%. $5.50.
Another strong, sweet Belgian-influenced beer, this time from Port Stephens, north of Sydney.
Described as a cross between a Belgian Trippel and Golden Strong Ale, this opulent ale smells a bit like a lolly shop, with bubblegum notes, yet finishes with good clean bitterness.
It's a good meal beer, suited to barbecued chicken, or strongly-flavoured fish, such as salmon. 8.8%. $8.
There's a whiff of hipster cool to the brews from this inner-Melbourne trio, best known for Love Tap, with a pig wearing a bow tie and top hat on the bottle. But they keep tongues firmly in cheeks and the beers are crackers, none more-so than the ironically named Jumping the Shark.
It's an extraordinarily complex stout, matured in cognac barrels, then flavoured with Tasmanian truffle. If sex could be bottled, it might taste something like this, but at $28 for 375ml, pleasure doesn't come cheaply - although it does come with a whopping 15% alcohol kick, so be warned.
Now here's something different to fool your friends - an IPA from Victoria with deceivingly dark looks, a citrus and tropical fruits nose, then a whopping bit mouthful of hop bitterness, backed up with a little roasted coffee bitterness too, and resiny pine notes.
The black colour comes from dehusked malt. Seriously good drinking. 7%. $6.20.
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