What is the GABS Hottest 100 and what does it mean to Sunshine Coast Breweries?

What has become a massive event on the Australian craft beer calendar, the GABS Hottest 100 originated in 2008, known then as The Local Taphouse’s Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers. Back then it was just a bit of fun for staff and customers at The Local Taphouse in St Kilda, Melbourne which was known as a great venue for craft beer. With only a few hundred votes in 2008, the poll now boasts over 200,000 votes each year since 2020.

It has been a significant event to showcase craft beer to a much wider audience over the past 15 years and continues to generate huge amounts of media and public interest giving every beer fan the chance to vote for their favourite beer.

The number one beer way back in 2008 was the Little Creatures Pale Ale, which for many was the gateway beer into the world of craft beer. This hop forward pale ale was a regular alternative on tap to the mainstream lagers and for those in the know originated from the incredible Little Creatures brewpub in Fremantle that I had the pleasure of experiencing back in 2005. This was well before the appearance of Stone & Wood’s Pacific Ale, Feral Hop Hog and Balter XPA that would dominate the Hottest 100 for many years to follow.

This dominance from these iconic beers started from 2011-2016 when Stone & Wood and Feral dominated first place, with Balter stealing the top spot in 2017 & 2018. 

But what about the Sunshine Coast breweries I hear you ask?

Without a doubt the strongest contender has been Larry from Your Mates, finishing as high as number 3 in 2021. Making its Hottest 100 debut at 13th place in 2018, jumping to 5th in 2019 and 4th in 2020 before hitting the dizzying heights of the podium in 3rd place in 2021. Holding a place this high is incredibly tough and a respectable 5th place in 2022 was also a great result for owners Matt Hepburn & Christan McGarry.

Other local performers include 10 Toes Pipeline which has been a regular feature in the top 100 featuring as high as 25, as has the Strawberry Rhubarb Sour from Brouhaha Brewery which is often the highest placed sour on the list.

Heads of Noosa have also featured as high as 23 with their much loved Japanese Lager, and this year they are pushing to get a lager voted into number 1 for the first time ever.

Something else that has never happened before is probably one of the most surprising Hottest 100 facts. Australia’s most awarded brewery, Moffat Beach Brewing Co has never had a Hottest 100 appearance. For a small brewery on the Sunshine Coast this actually isn’t that surprising considering the volume of votes required to feature is quite challenging for a smaller brewery, even if they make incredible beers. But if that was ever going to change I think we could see it happen in 2023  (Hint – give them some love).

With such quality beers holding court each year such as Crankshaft from Bentspoke and the previously mentioned Stone & Wood Pacific Ale, Feral Hop Hog and Balter XPA, it is an incredible achievement for our local Sunshine Coast breweries to feature in their company.

While many dismiss the poll as purely a popularity contest (which it is) it continues to divide opinion and create heated discussions among beer fans in breweries and bars across the country. In my opinion this is a great thing. People talking about beer!

While some may also argue that breweries with the biggest budget and largest database of emails have a better chance to win, I would argue that while this has an element of truth, it is still heavily reliant on the brewery having a strong connection to their supporters. Strong enough that they will actually make the effort to vote and support for their local brewery or their favourite beer.

In recent years many of the campaigns have really taken the approach of supporting your local, and activating a group of parochial locals can often be easier than trying to reach a voter from across the country to vote for your beer. 

As a staunch supporter of the local craft beer scene here on the Sunshine Coast it’s hard for me to play favourites or openly promote who I will be voting for, especially when you only get 5 votes. What I can tell you however is that a vote for any of the Sunshine Coast breweries is a vote for the local craft beer industry as well as showing support for your local. After all, we are Australia’s Craft Beer Capital!

Voting closes on 14th January with the big announcement on 27th January which you can follow online or even better why not head to your favourite brewery! 

To cast your vote head to www.gabshottest100.com/au-vote  

Josh Donohoe

Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours