As an Australian who travels constantly, I am always amused when people abroad assume we mostly drink Foster’s at home. While Aussie Rules footy fans may be partial to the odd VB (a cheap and bitter historic Melbourne brew), such big-name brands don’t really dominate the local beer scene. Instead, Australia is home to a wide and wonderful range of independent craft brewers, hailing from such disparate regions as the east’s Snowy Mountains (Razorback), the southern Victorian rainforest (Prickly Moses) and the remote west coast (Little Creatures). Even a traditional Aussie BBQ is more likely to feature beers from small producers than a case of Fosters, despite what the international ads may have you believe. Above photo courtesy of Sponner via Shutterstock.
Here are ten of the top craft and independent beers from Australia:
Photo courtesy of Little Creatures.
1. Little Creatures Pale Ale
Western Australian favorite Little Creatures has become one of the most popular beer makers in the country over the last ten years or so. Many prefer their famed Pale Ale, but in my opinion, the fruitier Bright Ale is a more unique and complex drink. Melbournians also flock to Little Creatures’ welcoming “Dining Hall” on Brunswick Street in hip Fitzroy, to scoff down excellent bar food and sample ponies, or small glasses, of Creatures’ various brews.
Photo courtesy of 4 Pines Brewing.
2. 4 Pines Kolsch
This smooth, straw-colored ale from Sydney maker 4 Pines Brewing is crisp, citrusy and all-round delightful. Located in the stunningly beautiful beach town Manly just north of the city, visitors to Sydney can enjoy 4 Pines’ beers at their onsite brewpub. All of their offerings are delectable, but their Kolsch is the perfect beer to relax with on a hot Australian summer’s day.
Photo courtesy of Prickly Moses.
3. Prickly Moses Otway Light
Small-scale producer Prickly Moses offers up a number of delicious beers, including their eco-friendly Organic Pilsner. Operating out of the picturesque Victorian Otway National Park region, their Otway Light, emblazoned with local resident, the prickly echidna, is their refreshing signature product. In fact, in a world of big-brand beers and multi-nationals, Prickly Moses is refreshing in more than one way.
Photo courtesy of Red Hill Brewery.
4. Red Hill Imperial Stout
Rich, dark and intense, Red Hill Brewery’s Imperial Stout appeals in particular to Irish visitors (and to our many Irish-descended Australians [myself included]). While Pale Ales and IPAs may be more popular go-to beers in Australia, there is also a burgeoning stout scene, and Red Hill’s offering is one of the best. However, during the holiday season, you can’t go past their festive Christmas Ale.
Photo courtesy of Matilda Bay Brewing Company.
5. Fat Yak Pale Ale
Wonderfully (or terribly, depending on your perspective)-named Fat Yak is one of the most widely-available craft beers in Oz. Simple, smooth and easy to drink, their classic Pale Ale is an all-round favorite. Clean and fruity with a touch of hoppiness, it’s the ideal beer to pair with a traditional Australian meal.
Photo courtesy of The Little Brewing Company.
6. Mad Abbot Tripel
For Belgian-style beer lovers, there’s no need to look beyond Australian shores. The Little Brewing Company’s Mad Abbot Tripel stands up to those malty, fruity ales the famed European beer country does so well. Medium-bodied and aromatic, this is the perfect beer for a wintry afternoon (not that afternoons get all that wintry in most parts of Australia).
Photo courtesy of Mountain Goat.
7. Mountain Goat Hightail Ale
Fast becoming a good pub staple, Mountain Goat’s Hightail Ale is a rich, floral amber ale. Though Mountain Goat’s IPA and Summer Ales are also beloved Australian brews, the Hightail is the one winning awards left, right and center- and for good reason.
Photo courtesy of Matilda Bay Brewing Company.
8. Beez Neez
While this beer may not be for everyone, Matilda Bay Brewing Company’s honey-infused Beez Neez wheat ale is a welcome novelty in a rather serious craft beer scene. Tapping into the American fascination with flavored beers (think Hardywood’s Blackberry Beer or Blue Moon’s Gingerbread Spiced Ale), Beez Neez is a little bit odd and a whole lot delicious.
Photo courtesy of Coopers Brewery.
9. Coopers Original Pale Ale
Established in 1862, historic Coopers is not as fancy or as exciting as the other beers on this list, but an article on Australian beer achievements could not leave it aside. Slightly bitter, refreshing and easy to drink, Coopers dominates the traditional Australian pub scene, and its round, vintage-style signage adorns many a city and country establishment alike.
Photo courtesy of Holgate Brewhouse.
From quaint historic country town Woodend, only an hour’s drive outside of Melbourne, Holgate Brewhouse is a fabulous artisanal brewery that supplies a number of local and Australia-wide pubs, as well as their own onsite country pub. IPA lovers will be drawn to their Hopinator, but fans of lighter flavors will love their Mt Macedon Pale Ale, named after the beautiful mountain that rises up right behind the town.
Did we include your favorite Australian beer? Do you have another suggestion to make? Please share in the comments below!
By Gemma King