The top 10 new craft beers for 2016

A new year means more exciting craft beers to investigate.
A new year means more exciting craft beers to investigate. Photo: Andrew Smith

Following an explosion of new styles, collaboration and, experimentation, the Australian craft beer scene has more enticing brews on offer than ever before. Here are 10 new crackers to track down in 2016.

HopDog BeerWorks, Quincemas Baubles, 5.8 per cent alcohol

This small operation out of Nowra on the NSW South Coast is well known for its annual seasonal Christmas release, and you might be able to snap up a couple of leftovers if you're lucky. It's also well known that head brewer Tim Thomas isn't afraid to experiment. Coupled with his wife/brewing partner's 14 years of culinary experience as a chef, fruits, spices and a myriad of other kitchen ingredients feature heavily throughout their offerings. Naturally fermented in barrels with the addition of quince and peppercorn, this is one weird and wild beer, with flavours of stewed fruit and bitter almond. It won't be long before they're gone, so grab a bottle quick.

Doctors Orders Brewing / Bridge Road Brewers, Berliner Weisse four-pack
Doctors Orders Brewing / Bridge Road Brewers, Berliner Weisse four-pack Photo: Bryn Price

Shenanigans Brewing Company, Grisette, 4.6 per cent alcohol

Sydney-based gypsy brewing duo Sam Haldane and Dan Beers first debuted their hopped farmhouse ale in 2014. It was the first beer produced by the pair under the Shenanigans label and a welcome addition to the craft beer scene. Two years later, she returns. The boys have worked hard to pair the aromatic characteristics of a classic saison yeast with individual hop profiles. The fruit and spice of a typical farmhouse saison is accentuated by the tropical aromas of Citra hops and the peppery qualities of Styrian Goldings. Stay tuned as more re-incarnations begin to emerge in local bottleshops, showcasing alternate hop combinations. At 4.6 per cent, with a crisp, dry palate, this is a seriously sessionable ale, ideal for sunny days in the backyard or local beer garden.

Batch Brewing Co., Chapeau, 6.2 per cent alcohol

The taproom of Batch Brewing Co, Marrickville, now two-years old.
The taproom of Batch Brewing Co, Marrickville, now two-years old. Photo: Supplied

A term the French use to give respect or praise, chapeau loosely translates to "hats-off" (or more literally, just "hat"). Brewed to celebrate the Marrickville team's second birthday, and a hard year maintaining a brew schedule of one new beer every 10 days, it's easy to understand why the name was chosen. This 6.2 per cent kettle soured raspberry ale initially transports you back to the schoolyard canteen line, with pungent aromas of red cordial and raspberry Sunnyboys. The first sip reveals a different beast: dry and tart, with sweet/sour complexity coming from the fruit. Oh, and it's bright pink. You can pour one for your nan and she can pretend it's a Fire Engine.

Moon Dog Brewing, Jumping the Shark 2015, 18.4 per cent alcohol

The third annual Jumping the Shark release from the Abbotsford brewers and the biggest yet. At a preposterous 18.4 per cent alcohol, this freeze-distilled imperial rye stout, aged in rye whisky barrels, is a bona-fide behemoth. A process synonymous with the powerful eisbocks of Germany, the procedure involves a partial freezing of the brew during conditioning, allowing a proportion of water to be removed, thus concentrating potency. Expect rich flavours of chocolate, molasses and toasted rye, followed by a warm boozy wallop. Make sure you tuck one away for the cooler months.


Napoleone Brewers, Rauchbier, 5.7 per cent alcohol

Following its popularity at the Great Australian Beer Spectacular in 2015, this Manuka wood smoked lager is back, and this time it's available in the bottle. The Yarra Valley brewery has succeeded in creating an approachable interpretation of the German classic, with an inviting burnished-copper appearance and a focus on overall balance. The palate is crisp and mellow, with gentle flavours of sweet smoked meat, complimented by a dry, spicy finish brought home by Saaz hops. Swing past your local delicatessen and pick up an assortment of smoked cold cuts to enjoy this sessionable swiller the way you ought to.

Young Henrys, Old Master, 5.2 per cent alcohol

The Bavarian Bier Cafe's new line of locally brewed beer, "The Crafty Bavarian".
The Bavarian Bier Cafe's new line of locally brewed beer, "The Crafty Bavarian". Photo: Supplied

A collaboration between Young Henrys and the Art Gallery of NSW has seen the the Newtown brewers curate a beer inspired by the Gallery's current exhibition – The Greats. The entire brew crew toured the exhibition, selecting two works by 17th century masters Diego Velazquez and Gerrit Dou. Head brewer Sam Fuss explains that stylistic definition is difficult with this one, as the team have tried to find common ground between the humble, atmospheric qualities in the works and what a tavern ales might have been like in the 17th century. With a solid backbone of rye, biscuit and lightly smoked malts, this brew is comforting and sessionable. For a dark pub corner and plate of smoked kippers.

Two Metre Tall, A Farmers Resilience and the Seven Year Itch, 6.4 per cent alcohol

Upon examining the bottle, one will notice a brew date of 2008. No misprint here: this Tasmanian ale is seven years old and proud of it. When brewer Ashley Huntington first released this wildly fermented sour concoction it was to a market unfamiliar with farmhouse ales of the style. Following a barrage of harsh criticism, he was left with a product he couldn't sell but refused to throw away. Like the palates of Australian drinkers, the bottles slowly matured and seven years later, after decanting into oak barrels prior to re-fermentation, a different beast is born. With aromas of grapefruit and barnyard, followed by layers of savoury complexity, this sour ale reflects place and purpose. A truly unique beer from an outfit on the forefront of innovation in the Australian craft beer scene.

Young Henrys' brewer Sam Fuss with AGNSW senior coordinator of public program Josephine Touma. The pair have ...
Young Henrys' brewer Sam Fuss with AGNSW senior coordinator of public program Josephine Touma. The pair have collaborated on "Old Master", a new beer for The Greats exhibition. Photo: Jenni Carter

Doctors Orders Brewing / Bridge Road Brewers, Berliner Weisse, 5.5 per cent alcohol

Beechworth heroes Bridge Road have teamed up with esteemed gypsy brewer Darren 'Doc' Robinson to bring you a seasonal Berliner weisse four-pack featuring one bottle of base beer and plus three different fruit variations (raspberry, grapefruit and rhubarb). Not content with the more predictable – but invariably less interesting – kettle-souring method, the team opted for a full two-day sour mash, leaving the grain to work its lactic magic. The Doc admits that 5.5 per cent alcohol is well above standard for the style. "Maybe we should have called it an Imperial Berliner Weisse," he jokes, pointing out that the extra alcohol percentage and sour mash process help to accentuate body and mouthfeel. Drink each bottle individually or experiment with making your own fruity blends (NB: deliciousness of blends may vary).

The Crafty Bavarian, Hop Dock Wheat Beer, 5 per cent alcohol

Known for its selection of quality German imports, the Bavarian Bier Cafe is planning to double its number of Australian venues in 2016 and has taken the plunge into brewing themselves. From the initial range of four house beers, the wheat is the pick of the bunch (there's also a lager, pale ale and low-carb blonde). Deceivingly named the 'Hop Dock', it's not a hop heavy new-wave interpretation brew, but rather a relatively subdued take on a typical Hefeweizen. Classic aromas of banana and clove dominate, and with a subdued wheat component, this weizen presents an approachable entry point into wheat beer for punters usually more inclined to drink a lager.

​Akasha Brewing Company, Korben D IIPA, 8.5 per cent alcohol

Since parting ways with the Parramatta microbrewery, Riverside, which he co-founded in 2012, Dave Padden has been kicking goals with his new project Akasha Brewing. Those familiar with Padden's work know that he is no stranger to the IPA, and the brewery's first seasonal release demonstrates his knack for producing big, balanced, hop heavy brews. Padden says the key to a good IPA is drinkability, which comes down to "balance and a dry palate". Clean and linear, the Korben ticks this box, hiding its hefty alcohol volume behind American ale, Munich and Gladiator malts before making way for the star of the show, a gargantuan dose of late addition Mosaic and Simcoe hops.