There is always a lot of discussion around the list, and this year was no different. There are two main points that critics seem to address when discussing the results:
- The same beers feature heavily from year to year, and
- There is no diversity
They are points that are hard to argue with.
Anyone who has followed the poll in the past would recognise most of the beers in the list. In fact 60% of the 2014 beers featured in 2013, and 6 of the top 10 held steady. There is obviously nothing wrong with the beers themselves. People are buying and loving them enough to vote for them. So what is the issue? It really depends on what you expect out of the list. Is it used to highlight some of the best beers that have been available throughout the year, or is it used to highlight new beers?
I like the idea behind limiting votes to new beers only, but how many beers are released each year? How many are single batch or limited release? How many are sold at the brewery only? I would expect that only a handful of those would be available to buy at the time the results are released. It would also limit the scope of people who vote in the poll to people who seek ou these types of beers.
The hottest 100 boils down to a popularity contest, highlighted by the second point: the lack of diversity. 49 of the 100 were Pale Ales or IPAs of one variety or another. These are the beers that you see in bottle shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants. It is no surprise that they feature heavily; they are the beers that are selling! So many of the beers can be found in your local Dan Murphy’s or Bottle-O, and I think that is a big reason why they’re in the results.
I think that the competition is a great way of expanding the number of craft beer drinkers in Australia. My first experience with the hottest 100 was as a casual beer drinker. I mulled over the list and purchased beers that I could source easily enough. From there I expended my beer interests to more breweries and more styles.
If you’re near a great bottle shop that gets a good selection of beers, great! Otherwise, your best bet is to shop online and find some beer that you wouldn’t ordinarily be exposed to. At the time of writing, we have over 140 Australian craft beers in stock. There are some amazing beers being brewed that didn’t make it to the list. Stay tuned to find out my top 10 that didn’t make it.