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On the Hops

Liquor Barons Craft Beer Guide

We’ve finally done it and pulled together a bunch of local industry experts including beer judges, brewers, retailers and passionate beer connoisseurs to bring you the very best in craft beers, selected through a series of blind tastings each fortnight. These really are the very best, tastiest and most fresh crafties out there whittled down to our standout top 6.

Grab a mixed six pack - one of each of our featured brews for only $24.99

 
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 Volume 1

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Nail Brewing MVP Session Ale

(3.4% Abv)

Drinking mid-strength beer was once a matter of sacrificing mouthfeel and flavour for the benefits of lower alcohol. Thankfully, a host of Australian craft-brewers have sought to address that long-accepted compromise; none better than Perth’s own Nail Brewing and the award-winning MVP Session Ale. Yeast in suspension sees the beer pour a hazy gold, and adds body, while Galaxy hops deliver a well-rounded citrus and tropical fruit character – and a refreshing hit of bitterness. It’s all class for all afternoon; no wonder MVP picked up the ‘Best Reduced / Low Alcohol Beer’ trophy at the 2018 Australian International Beer Awards.

$4.50 can | $14.99 4pk

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Boston Brewing Afterglose Raspberry Gose

(4.5% Abv)

Sour wheat beers are ideal thirst quenchers for our summer months, and this Great Southern (Denmark) brewery gets the German ‘Gose’ style so, so right. Boston’s Afterglose pours with a hazy pink blush and healthy effervescence, and offers a hit of fresh, almost sugar-sweet, raspberry on the nose. On the palate, though, that fruit sweetness is perfectly balanced by the style’s trademark lactic tartness, with the traditional prickle of added salt contributing to a splendidly dry finish. A high proportion of wheat malt is also traditional and apparent in this fine brew; a Gose that’s right at home in WA.

$5.99 can | $29.99 6pk

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Black Brewing Pale Ale

(5.5% Abv) 

Most Australian craft-brewers would regard an American-style Pale Ale as an essential part of their stable, and there’s good reason for that. Eighteen-plus years after Little Creatures first opened its doors, most of us can appreciate the classic style’s clean, fruity, hop-forward characters and superb drinkability – which is exactly what you’ll find in Black Brewing’s revamped Pale. The beer’s citrus and pine-needle aromatics immediately grab your attention, with malt support – including a touch of spice from rye malt – providing good balance across the palate. A moderate bitterness wraps up an ever-so-tidy and very approachable brew from this Margaret River mainstay.

$5.50 can | $18.99 4pk

Cheeky Monkey West Coast IPA

(6.5% Abv)

India Pale Ale includes a range of sub-styles, as the current flood of juicy, hazy, low-bitterness New England (NEIPA) variants makes apparent. The ‘West Coast’ version typically reins in its malt base to showcase the array of aromatics and flavours, and bitterness, that a ‘shedload’ of hops can bring to the table. They are solid brews, and Margaret River’s Cheeky Monkey have used a sizeable trio of American hop varieties – Cascade, Amarillo and Mosaic – to deliver bold citrus-and-tropical-fruit, orange-zest, and pine-needle characters, with that required whack of bitterness and a toasty malt backbone playing a supporting role. Cheeky and classy.

$5.99 can | $22.99 4pk

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Otherside Harvest Red AlE

(5.4% Abv)

Otherside Brewing looks set for exponential growth in 2019, but it’s been the venture’s earlier, more methodical steps forward that have led to this point. Harvest Red Ale was the first beer in the brewery’s limited-release ‘Pilot Series’, and it didn’t take long for its distinctive, even nourishing, blend of melon-and-citrus hop characters and caramel malts – delivering raisin, plum and sweeter grainy notes – to find an audience. The Red was, and still is, a brew that’s both artisanal and approachable, and has become a reliable lynchpin in the Otherside core range; while the ‘Pilot Series’ continues to create what’s next.

$5.50 can | $18.99 4pk

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Beer Farm IPL - India Pale Lager

(5.2% Abv) 

Almost every year, the craft beer intelligentsia proclaims an imminent ‘craft lager’ boom that never seems to come. It’s understandable that recent converts – still haunted by the ghosts of a mass-produced past – might be resistant to such notions, but styles such as the IPL offer a way forward for the lager family. Beer Farm’s brewers have beautifully integrated the hopping schedule of an IPA with the clean, crisp, sparkling drinkability that only a bottom-fermenting yeast, and time, can produce. Vibrant citrus and stone fruit characters roll into subtle malt notes and a firm bitterness, making it a lager to love.

$5.50 can | $18.99 4pk

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 Volume 2

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Green Beacon
3 Bolt Pale Ale (4.5% Abv)

Balance is key when it comes to Pale Ale, and Green Beacon gets the malt-hops equilibrium just right with 3 Bolt. The beer’s aromatics introduce the synergy of grainy, bready malts and tropical-fruit hop characters (pine, passionfruit, mango), with those hops taking an American-style lead and pale malt providing essential support. The pair’s seamless routine continues onto the palate, before old-world bittering hops cut a moderate, slightly-spicy swathe across the dancefloor… er, tastebuds! Dodgy TV show analogies aside, this Brisbane-based crafty nails the brief and deserves high marks for pairing accomplished flavour and drinkability.
$4.99 can | $16.99 4pk

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Nail
Red Ale (6% Abv)

Consider, for a moment, that the orange-red-copper glow of autumn leaves are a signal to start exploring the darker realms of the beer spectrum. You’ll arrive at Red Ales well before you approach Stout territory.This American-style local is an exceptional advocate for the scrumptious, ‘wholemeal loaf’ qualities of specialty malts. In this brew, it’s Carared and Munich malts that impart delicious toffee-caramel and toasty notes, with liberal doses of Citra hops, providing a counterpoint of moderate bitterness and citrusy aromatics. It’s beautifully balanced at 6% abv, and is Nail’s perfect intro to autumnal imbibing.
$4.99 can | $17.99 4pk

 
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Bad Shepherd
Hazelnut Brown Ale (5.9% Abv)

Victoria’s Bad Shepherd Brewing might be relative newcomers here in WA, but this fine Brown Ale suggests we roll out the ‘Welcome’ mat posthaste. Why? Just get a hit of the intoxicating hazelnut, vanilla and chocolate aromatics that rise from the glass - Wow! Indulge your tastebuds with more of those hazelnut, vanilla and chocolate characters; accompanied by earthy notes of Maris Otter malt and a spirited addition of Frangelico - Yum! Admire the beer’s mahogany hue, smooth mouthfeel and dry, clean finish, and grab another - Yes please!
$5.99 bottle | $19.99 4pk

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New Belgium
Fat Tire Belgian White (5.2% Abv)

Pierre Celis resurrected the Belgian Wheat Beer, or Witbier, with Hoegaarden in the 1960’s, and New Belgium have absolutely nailed the style for 2019. The Colorado (US) collective sticks with tradition and crafts a cloudy pale-gold brew that truly zings; an addition of fresh Seville Orange peel teaming up with the lightly-creamy mouthfeel and lemony-citrus tang of raw wheat, oats and yeast. There’s malt sweetness supporting that fruitiness too. Coriander notes, yeast spice, and tartness, provide the style’s trademark dry, spicy, refreshing finish. Seamless, superb, and an impressive new spin for a Belgian classic.
$4.99 can | $16.99 4pk

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Garage Project
DFA IPA (7.5% Abv)

‘DFA’ - ‘Demus Favorem Amori’ - a new name for an old favourite from one of New Zealand’s finest. Garage Project takes a chef-like approach to its beer recipes, and this India Pale Ale is infused with the South-East-Asian influences of mango, Vietnamese mint, lime and chilli. Centennial, Amarillo and Citra hops bring a classic citrus hit on the nose, but there’s no denying those aromatic hints of mint and lime; just as the mango joins a classic IPA palate, and firm bitterness reveals a dash of chilli heat. DFA - ‘we choose to stand for love’. Love. This. Beer.
$7.99 can | $26.99 4pk

 
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Little Creatures
XPA (4.9% Abv)

The ‘XPA’ - or ‘eXtra Pale Ale’ - is yet to be defined as a style, but generally denotes a beer that sits somewhere between a Pale Ale and an IPA. We’re talking more pronounced hop characters than a Pale, combined with lower bitterness and less alcohol of an IPA; and that’s certainly what Little Creatures have delivered with its latest release. Late additions of Galaxy, Mosaic and Citra hops - aka ‘dry hopping’ - imbue a simple malt base with elegant tropical-fruit, citrus and pine aromatics, adding the all-important ‘X’ factor to a clean, smart, subtly seductive and very approachable brew.
$3.99 bottle | $19.99 6pk