Drunken Speculation

Hottest 100 Retrospective

H100-logo-wideThe Hottest 100 for another Australia Day is done and dusted. That would be the craft beer one run by the Local Taphouse, not the “world’s largest” music poll run by Triple J (which may yet be the subject of another DS).

First cab off the rank is not congratulations to the winners. I’m too bitter about my complete inability to get any of the four beers I picked, admittedly not solely on their merits, into the top century.

Nonetheless, the brewers of my unpopular choices managed to get in there: Moo Brew at 89 and 98, Burleigh at 23, 47 and 77, and Matilda Bay inexplicably getting Fat Yak into 37th. Wig & Pen failed to show at all but when your main market is Canberra (as a friend recently remarked, it’s a dressed-up Toowoomba), that’s hardly surprising. The lady’s pick, however, of White Rabbit White Ale got into 38.

That’s out of my system, so congratulations to the winners: Feral Brewing of WA, Stone & Wood of NSW and Little Creatures of WA. Western Australia getting two of the top three beers makes Feral’s head brewer Brendan Varis’ comments to Crafty Pint – “It’s a great list of beers, even if it’s still very eastern states biased” – a bit odd. Putting aside the fact that over 17.5 of Australia’s 22.8 million people live in the eastern mainland states plus ACT, two of the top three ain’t bad.

Which brings me to other odd comments. I had a flick through the 2010 and 2011 results pages on Crafty Pint as well. Some responses from the punters are, to be polite, not well thought out. You’d expect craft beer lovers to just be glad that things are going well enough for the industry that over a hundred craft beers are there to be voted on, let alone popular enough to deserve a Hottest 100. Apparently not:

…five or six of the top ten brews pay too much obeisance to the blandness that has always dominated the Australian beer palate. Squire Golden? Fat Yak? Vale Ale? [2010]

You, sir, are what scientists refer to as Hipsterrus douchebaggii. You reflect a fundamental misunderstanding: you can either take a punt on an interesting flavour but there’s no guarantee that it’ll be widely consumed, which is the point of operating a brewery, or you can play it safe with a recipe that’s likely to appeal to a diversity of people. Is it therefore surprising that the low-risk beers make it to the top of a popularity poll? Of course not, but because it’s “mainstream” and therefore automatically not as good as your hipster choice, then everyone else is suffering from a bland palate. That elitism is not helpful to spreading the good word about craft brewing.

The other one I wanted to touch on:

40% of Little Creatures owned by Lion Nathan who are  100% Japanese Kirin Owned

We all cool with this being included? [2011]

Kirin is also owned by Mitsubishi. Does that make Little Creatures a car maker because that’s weird. I’m almost certain getting inside a Little Creatures will severely limit your ability to drive, not improve it. Maybe an attribute of the parent company does not also apply to its subsidiaries? Consider that Vegemite, Holden, Aeroplane Jelly, The Australian and Ford are foreign owned (that’s not even getting into foreign ownership on the ASX). We consider them Australian, even if the product and the intellectual property are not, because of their heritage and their impact on our culture. Quibbling over a minority stake in a Fremantle-based brewery seems to reflect a lack of understanding that you live in one of the few countries that lives by its ideological commitment to free trade.

(In short, wake up Jeff)

Actually one more:

Purely a popularity contest… [2012]

Really? Are you freaking kidding me? What did you think it was?

Anyway, between the two Hottest 100s, it’s an excellent way to spend Australia Day. Congratulations again to all who made the top hundred (and even those who didn’t). Next year, we may even be able to make it to the Local Taphouse for the countdown.

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