The popularity of craft beer has exploded in recent years. As more hoppy ales, desert-like porters, and lovingly-made lagers are hitting the shelves in Australia – you get the feeling that there aren’t enough weekends in the year to try them all. However, if you’re new to craft beer or just want to learn more about it, the first thing that probably pops into your head is what makes a beer a craft one? Allow us to explain!

What Is Craft Beer?

Australian craft beer

Since the term’s inception in the 1970s, beer experts have debated this open-ended subject, with many believing their definition is correct.

A craft brewery, sometimes known as a microbrewery, is a brewery that brews small batches of beer. However, the word “small batch” is vague as the number has changed from 2 million back in 2011 and 15000 back in the 1980s. Coopers – Australia’s largest independent brewery can only produce 1/5th of this quantity at full capacity.

On the other hand, all beer enthusiasts will agree that unlike large-scale fully-automated breweries, most breweries that produce craft beer should be privately owned. They should have a craft brewer handling and all production phases to retain the beer’s special quality and flavour.

Although the best way to consume craft beer is by visiting a local craft brewery, if you find this option time and money consuming, search for a premium brewery online store where you can shop the finest local and international craft beers.

How Is Australia’s Craft Beer Made?

The sugar consumed in the fermentation process is released by mashing the grains used to make beer. Before fermenting, the brew is sparged, boiled, and cooled. Craft breweries use different ingredients depending on how they want the finished product to taste. They use hops to preserve the brew because it is a natural way to do so, whereas fruits, herbs, and other flavours create various flavours. With so many different tastes, even those who love homebrewing will be willing to try.

In Australia, there are over 100 microbreweries over the country. You can find Australia’s best craft beers in pubs, bistros, rooftop bars, beer gardens, or a brewery online store. An Australia Day celebration is one of the greatest opportunities to enjoy microbrews.

Types of Craft Beers You Must Try

types of craft beer

Ale is the most popular beer style. This nutritional source of hydration, which dates back to 800BC in Germany, was liked by people of all ages and was often safer to consume than water. After a few thousand years, the modern ale has evolved into the backbone of many craft beers, with various sub-styles owing to its broad spectrum of flavours.

Pale ale is the most popular craft beer in Australia, and it got its name from its light colour. The pale colour was originally due to the barley roasting procedure, or malting, which employed coke (a type of coal) instead of wood, resulting in a less burnt roast and a golden colour. Now, softly roasted barley malt produces light beers, and heavily roasted barley malt produces dark or black beers. Pale ales are often lightly hopped and do not have a harsh flavour.

Amber Ale gets its name from the colour and creative ingredient mix — it’s neither dark nor pale ale, so it must be amber ale. Amber ales are made by combining pale ale with amber or crystal malts to generate a caramel toffee flavour.

Another term you’ll hear a lot is IPA, which stands for India Pale Ale. Originally an English export to India in the 18th century, the beer was fortified with extra hops and alcohol to survive its long journey. This gave it a distinct bitter flavour with citrus and flowery notes, making it ideal for hotter locations such as Australia. The phrase “double IPA” literally means “twice the amount of hops,” resulting in a strong brew with a strong hoppy flavour and a greater alcohol content, typically around 7%.

Brown ales are the original ales since the wood-fired malting process gave all beer a dark colour. As pale ales gained popularity, dark beers became the drink of the working class, while pale ales were a status symbol cherished by British upper society. Brown ales today are made with a range of dark speciality malts to give them a rich, nutty flavour. Brown ales made in the United States are the most popular in Australia, with most brewers producing at least one variation.

Porters and stouts date back to the late 17th and early 18th centuries in the United Kingdom. Modern Porters are a dark, malty, and well-hopped brew with complex, rich flavours of chocolate, nuts, caramel, and occasionally a faint smokiness, and low in alcohol. A heavier porter blend is referred to as a double porter or stout porter.

When buying a craft beer in a beer shop or at a brewery online store, you will come across another typical craft beer style – the lager, which comprises most commercial beers. Unlike ales, lagers are made with lager yeast, which loves cold temperatures and ferments at the bottom of a tank. The word lager comes from the German word lager bier, which refers to a brewing popular in southern Germany that creates a light, crisp beer. Lagers, like ales, come in a range of styles.

After the processes used to make pale ale in England were imported to Germany in the 19th century, a pale lager or pilsner was developed. Pilsners are typically drier and have a hoppy aroma.

Dark lagers, such as Dunkel and Schwarbier, are made using specific Munich malts that give them a dark to black hue with flavours of chocolate and liquorice.

What to Look for When Buying a Craft Beer?

Australian craft beer

Seek out independent brewers who employ locally sourced ingredients and produce unique, fascinating, and limited-edition brews. Craft brewers frequently use conventional methods to make their beers while experimenting with styles and flavour combinations. In many cases, you’ll be able to visit these breweries, tour their facilities, meet the brewers, and sample their products to learn more about the art of producing beer.

Craft breweries can now be found all around the country. Each state has its small-scale craft brews, such as award-winning Wildflower Brewing & Blending, Canberra’s BentSpoke Brewing Co, and Sydney’s Young Henrys and Batch Brewing Company.