Cam's top five craft beer picks of 2016

2016 was another awesome year for craft beer and we had a lot of fun putting together our monthly beer boxes for you fine folk. I’d be hard pressed to choose a favourite month, let alone a favourite beer but I’m in reflective mood on this New Year ’s Eve and, having cast my mind back over the last 12 months, I’ve come up with a short list of five of my absolute stand-outs from the Beer Days 2016 boxes.

Anderson Valley Highway 128 Session Series

Blood Orange Gose  USA  4.2%

This was the first Gose that we had included in a beer box so we were pretty excited about. It’s a very unique kind of beer – I’m a big fan but newcomers to the style sometimes find it’s an acquired taste. Just like the traditional version, Anderson Valley’s Gose is a wheat ale brewed with lactobacillus which gives it that deliciously sour taste. It’s the addition of blood oranges during fermentation that really sets this one apart with bright citrus flavours complemented by coriander and the subtle saline taste of the salted brewing water. The blood orange is immediately noticeable in the aroma takes you all the way through to the last drop. Tangy and tart without leaving you with puckered grimace, I defy you not to be converted to this excellent summer sessionable.

Kaiju!/Exit Brewing Schopsh!

Scotch Ale  6.5%  Australia

This combination of two excellent breweries was bound to lead to all kinds of fun and this Scotch ale is worthy of all those delighted exclamation marks! Pouring a deep coppery amber with a generous creamy head, there’s a sophisticated complexity in the aroma which is really worth relishing even when you’re busting to take your first sip. Rich caramel and toffee with smoky, peaty notes, earthy dried dark fruits, and fresh citrus are a promise of the flavours to come. As expected all that nutty, roasted, sweet malty caramel and toffee is there in abundance but it is cut through with a decent wack of fruity hop bitterness which makes for a deliciously dry finish. The smoky peat earthiness of this brew made it one of my favourite winter beers.

Mash Brewing Copycat AIPA

Indian Pale Ale  Australia  6.8%

I’m an IPA devotee and this award-winning brew from the Swan Valley in WA was a hard act to follow. Pouring a deep amber with a firm head, there is a powerful aroma of pine and stonefruit with some caramel malt seeping through. Pineapple and melon aromas make their distinctive presence felt but it’s the piney hops that dominate and give it that classic West Coast USA IPA feel. The taste is wonderfully balanced – the caramel sweetness of the strong malt backbone keeps the intense piney, resinous hop bitterness in check without stealing its thunder. The citrus comes forward early in the taste with some sweet follow up and the resinous finish lingers for a long farewell.

Nomad Supersonic DIPA

Imperial Indian Pale Ale  8.5%  Australia

I was already a fan of Nomad’s  JetLag IPA and this supercharged, fully customised, hopped up (literally) version of it took an already excellent IPA to new levels of awesome with almost double the hops and double the malt. An American yeast strain ensures that clean, crisp West Coast IPA feel but the Aussie hops are still there in abundance and this time they are double dry hopped so expect an off the charts aroma when crack one of these beauties open. Pouring golden as a California sunset, the taste is a grapefruit, citrus punch with a caramel malt backbone to keep you from being knocked off your seat. The distinctive dried finger lime is still in the mix and gives a wonderfully tangy, zesty character to the robust hop bitterness. Nomad – they just keep delivering the goods.

Red Hill Imperial Stout

Imperial Stout  Australia  8.1%

This much awarded and highly regarded Imperial Stout has a limited release outside of Red Hill Brewery so it’s a real treat. It pours dark and oily and viscous immediately calling to mind in colour and texture the molasses and liquorice that you are about to enjoy in aroma and flavour. Caramel, chocolate and toffee malt flavours might have you expecting dessert, but all that rich, roasted, dark sweetness is balanced with the addition of Willamette and Goldings hops for a robust bitterness. Creamy and smooth, this is a dangerously drinkable and luscious beer and I admit to savouring more than a few of these this year.

Research and development (i.e. drinking lots of craft beer) is obviously one of the best parts of this job and tonight I plan on dedicating myself fully to the task by making my way steadily (and semi-responsibly) through the January beer box which features excellent brews from Exit Brewing, Hope Brewhouse, Nomad Brewing Co, Mornington Peninsula, Holgate Brewhouse and Cavalier Brewing.

Looking forward to sending more craft beer your way in the new year – it’s going to be a cracker.

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