beer business

Some thoughts on the Hottest 100


Note: This post has been revised as I stupidly referred to the previous year’s poll instead of this year’s. I’ll cop to that because I’m disinclined to make a cock-up and then try to erase it so I can pretend it never happened. But I think the larger points still stand. Unless I’ve screwed up somewhere else as well.


There are two reasons I’m not going to get all cranky about any of the placings in the Hottest 100 beer poll.

1) It doesn’t matter: One of the chestnuts about the Hottest 100 is that someone pulls on the crankypants because a beer they really, really love was totally robbed because of its low rating. Come on, dude. We don’t all have to like the same thing. And besides, as if the rest of us beer geeks are going to secretly conspire against you to ensure your favourite beer gets a dud score.

It’s not as if you’re going to suddenly stop drinking the beer because of the low rating. Hell, you could even continue drinking it with a smug sense of superiority that everyone else is a dunderhead for not recognising the wondrous majesty of that particular beer. It’s worth remembering that once more people discover that beer, there will be less to go around. Which means less for you. So shut up already.

2) I abstained: It was unintentional but yeah, I didn’t vote this year. I totally meant to. Every time I saw a social media post about it I thought “yeah, I should vote in that”. Then I’d see something shiny and get completely distracted. As a result it’d be dodgy as hell for someone to complain about the choices when they couldn’t even get around to voting.

There must have been a bit of laziness in there as well, because I’ve only just looked at the list a week after it all happened. I have to say it was a real surprise. Each previous year there is a handful of breweries that I’ve never heard of. But this year there was just one – West City Brewing. I can promise you that’s not because I’ve got my finger on the pulse of the Australian brewing scene. These days, with all the new breweries that keep springing up, I feel like an old guy desperately trying to keep up with the hip music the kids are listening to. So I gave up trying.

Incidentally, I was also surprised that I’d had 87 of the 100 beers. That’s easily my best strike rate ever, and perhaps a sign that the variety of beer that Wollongong gets has improved.

There being just one unknown (to me, at least) in the list made me think about why. Maybe it’s because these up and comers are still, well, up and coming. Yes, there are some breweries appearing for the first time on the list but it feels like they’ve at least been around for a little while. So maybe those up and comers will pop up on the poll in a year or two’s time. Maybe, by that time, they’ll have gathered enough fans to vote for their beers. And they’ll need a fair whack of votes too – I reckon the days of beers creeping into the Hottest 100 with a handful of votes are well and truly over.

Or maybe there aren’t any unknowns in the list because it’s a time of consolidation. A time when a handful of craft beer brewers have gotten big enough to virtually dominate the scene. A little like the mainstream brewers were doing when those very craft brewers were coming through. With the obvious exception that the big craft brewers make way tastier beer than the mainstreamers ever did.

But as these big craft brewers get bigger, their reach gets larger and therefore, the pool of people voting for them gets larger too, in the coming years will there be any room left in the Hottest 100 for the little guy?

It’s not a criticism – those bigger craft brewers make some fine beer. Just an observation.

2 replies »

  1. Coopers Sparkling actually didn’t score any votes. They didn’t enter their beers. The breweries had to register each beer they wanted entered. Not sure about Zoo Feeder but Modus might have deliberately left it off the poll after they discontinued it.

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