Cam's Hottest 10 Craft Beers for the Hottest 100

Voting is about to close for the hottest 100 beers and after extensive research (someone’s gotta do it, right?) I have finally settled on my personal top 10 most awesome craft beers. Toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make. Behold:

Red Hill Christmas Ale 2016 8.3%

I know the Chrissy decorations are packed away for another year but this is a beer that makes me feel warm and festive all year round. It is a deep orange in colour with a spicy hop aroma from the home grown crop on Red Hill. These guys have produced a Christmas ale every year for the last 9 years and they have got it perfected now. Each year seems to get a little better than the last and this one is only going to get better with a little age.

Hope Brewhouse Hunter Harvest IIPA 9.5%

This one is such a treat. The brewers at Hope Estate have started with a seriously bold Imperial IPA and added Semillon and Verdelho juice from the estate. This full sweetness is gradually overtaken by some serious hop bitterness and it is all beautifully tempered by subtle malt notes. I make myself savour it slowly – it’s worth relishing rather than rushing.

Young Henrys Natural Lager 4.2%

Unlike the ridiculously flawless clarity of the big commercial lagers, Young Henry’s is unfiltered and pours a beautiful hazy golden. Crafted with three varieties of noble Australian hops (noble hops are distinguished not by being posh, but by their low alpha acids and very fine aromas and flavours – it makes them ideal for low ABV, crisp lagers like this one), the Natural Lager has a subtle citrus aroma and a light zing of hops on the palate, which is sure to make it one of your go-to summer quenchers. There are plenty of good reasons that Young Henrys are the current big daddy of the Sydney craft beer scene. This is just one of them.

BrewCult Thanks Captain Obvious IPA 5.8%

The dude behind BrewCult, Steve “Hendo” Henderson, is a man who loves his hops and with this American style IPA, Hendo wears his big, hoppy heart right on his sleeve. Brewed with classic American hops – Simcoe, Citra and Centennial – the Obvious gives you that big familiar hit of pine, floral, citrus, and tropical fruit aromas then seals the deal with a punchy hop bitterness and flavours to match the aromas. There’s lychee in there, along with grape and mango, plus our old friends grapefruit and orange from the citrus family, and they are nicely balanced by a clean malt presence and a light, bitter, and slightly biscuity finish. Pouring the colour of a fiery summer sunset with a frothy head and a lively carbonation, this excellent ale does a lot for the argument that an IPA is the best way to consume hops. Duh, you might say. And we’ll say Thanks Captain Obvious.

Napoleone Longbow ESB 5.1%

Ben Waymouth at Napoleone has created this cracking rendition of the tradition style ESB. With lots of toffee and a little chocolate, this is the kind of beer you want to drink as the weather starts to become a little more, well, Ennglish. It’s not too bitter but there’s a lovely fresh hoppiness that offsets the malt. This is my go-to for grey days in front of the fire (or the bar heater).

Nomad Brewing Long Trip Saison 6%

Long Trip Saison is one of the best examples of the style we at Beer Days have ever tried. It’s super complex yet comes together in a mouth gratifying, nasal dancing expression of just how good beer can be. The guys at Nomad said they set out to create a dry, clean and very sessionable Saison, with hints of coffee, citrus and spice and you know what, they’ve nailed it. Wattle seeds have been added at the end of the boil, further adding to the experience.

Mornington Peninsula Continuous Daryl IIPA 8.3%

Amarillo hops are the star of this show and have been continuously added to the boil over the course of an hour. The result is a brew that pours dark but clear amber with a medium white head and a pungent aroma of pine and caramel. With mango, passionfruit and pine in the flavour and a full syrupy body, the malt sweetness is cut through with loads of fruity hop bitterness and a little herb and spice in the aftertaste. Daryl by name; sophisticated and very delicious by nature.

Five Barrel Wee Heavy Scotch Ale 7.2%

I’m generally a pretty devoted hophead but this extravaganza of malts is more than enough to test my loyalty to the mighty hop. Warming and strong with a potent toffee and nut malt character, the scotch ale is aged in Imperial Stout Barrels for extra depth and body. While the caramelised malts give it a delicious sweetness, it still finishes with a slightly crisp and welcome dryness. Don’t tell my IPAs that I’ve been stepping out on them with this beauty.

McLaren Vale Vale IPA 5.5%

Pouring a light red amber colour with a generous head and lacing that sticks to your glass like glue, the effervescence buzzing off the Vale is a sign of the delicious tang and the spritzy mouthfeel headed your way. But before you get there, take a minute to enjoy the aromas – passionfruit, grapefruit, citrus, and a good burst of piney hops. The combination of crystal, pale and wheat malts give deliver the goods when it comes to malt flavour, and the very cosmopolitan array of hops – Australia’s Galaxy, NZ’s Nelson Sauvin, and Citra from the US – make for a bracingly hoppy taste and lingering bitterness without knocking you off your feet. Love this one with an authentic Indian curry, a few mates, and the weekend on the horizon.

Nomad Brewing Freshie Salt ‘n’ Pepper Gose 4.5%

This is summer at Sydney’s most beautiful beaches in a glass - literally! The salted water used in Nomad’s Gose is straight from legendary “Freshie” on the Northern Beaches. In a classic Nomad twist, brewer Brooks Caretta has spiked it with Tasmanian mountain pepper. Coriander – the defining feature of a gose – is in the mix too and pale and wheat malts along with Williamette hops and a German ale yeast make for a bready aroma, a mild bitterness, and a deliciously refreshing salty and sour taste. This has become my go-to post-surf brew.

Whew. That was some seriously hard choices. I need to go have a beer now to recover. Just gotta figure out which one…

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