Stuck in a beer rut? Then why not take a step off the beaten beer path and sample one of these five trending brews.
Beer. It’s almost a food group in itself, right? And for many of us, it’s a staple we pick up with the grocery shopping, never straying from our favourites. But with International Beer Day approaching it's time to wander off the beaten beer path a little. Our expert beer panel - Matt Kierkegaard, one of Australia's most experienced beer educators (www.beermatt.com) and Sid Ajala and Rob Carter from the BWS beer team - discuss the top five beer trends we should all be discovering. Cheers!
What is it?: “India Pale Ale, or IPA, is the flagship style of the craft beer revolution,” says Matt. “Hop-driven and with aggressive bitterness, they're not everyone's glass of beer. The Brut IPA is a very new style of IPA that showcases the hop flavours without the sometimes harsh bitterness.
What it tastes like: “Very light bodied for a big beer, like a champagne, but bursting with tropical fruit characters and citrus but will next to no bitterness.”
What to drink it with: Have as an aperitif, or with natural oysters or gin cured salmon.
Try: Southern Brut from Melbourne's Wolf of the Willows.
What it is: “The ubiquity of lagers saw all lagers tarred with the same 'boring' brush, throwing the baby out with the bath water - but true pilsners are a classic style and it's great to see them coming back,” says Matt.
What it tastes like: “It won't take you anywhere you've never been in beer terms, but it will take you there in style,” says Matt. “Earthy floral noble hop aromas with a moderate bodied bready malt body-cradling a crisp bitter finish in an elegant beer.”
What to drink it with: Fish and chips, pizza, spicy Thai
Try: Balter Pilsner, Moo Brew, or Australian Brewery New World Pilsner
PORTERS AND STOUTS
What is it?: “Porters and Stouts are some of the oldest beer styles, so they’re not new, but with the cooler months they really come into their own,” says Matt. Aussie stouts and porters won some prestigious beer awards in 2017, so they’re looking to be huge for 2018.
What it tastes like: A dark beer can taste anywhere from treacle to chocolate to liquorice. A stout is generally “roasty” in flavour, while a porter has more milk chocolate tastes.
What to drink it with: “A nice dry stout goes beautifully with natural fresh oysters, aged cheddar cheese but also with rich desserts such as chocolate cake and creme brulee. You can even make a beer affogato by adding vanilla ice-cream to stout (instead of coffee) and a shot of Frangelico!” says Matt.
Try: Feral Brewing Boris Russian Imperial Stout, Wolf of the Willows JSP, Australian Brewery Into the Void Stout.
MID-STRENGTH, LOW AND NO ALCOHOL
What is it: “Lower in carbs and lower in alcohol are big growth categories as people are looking for options that better complement a healthy lifestyle,” Sid and Rob say. “Against a declining beer market overall, the mid-strength beer category has grown more than 12% in the last year. Australians are also finally getting access to some great tasting alcohol-free beers which is seeing their popularity increase.”
What it tastes like: Just like a regular beer, but with fewer carbs and lower in alcohol.
What to drink it with: Great for social events and staying in control or watching sport and not missing a moment of the action.
Try: Peroni Leggera mid-strength, or Bitburger Drive 0%
What it is: “This is the evolution of Australia's growing interest in craft beer with drinkers driven to support local businesses who have connections to the community. Craft has grown nearly 20% on the previous year,” Sid and Rob explain. “Pale Ales aren't so much a trend as the mainstay of the craft beer revival. The hop characters are very accessible to beer drinkers and non-beer drinkers alike and provide a real point of difference from the mainstream lagers that went before,” adds Matt.
What it tastes like: Full of flavour, and a reflection of the local neighbourhood.
What to drink it with: “BBQ'd meats or spicy foods. You can't go wrong with this pairing,” advise Sid and Rob.
Try: Bentspoke Barley Griffin Pale Ale (from Canberra), Newstead Pale Ale (from Brisbane), Bridge Road Beechworth Pale Ale (from Beechworth), Colonial Pale Ale (from Margaret River), Pirate Life Pale Ale (from Adelaide), Moo Brew Pale Ale ( from Bridgewater, Tasmania)