The top seven brands in the brewing industry for 2018

While independent craft breweries continuing to multiply, the recent acquisition of 4 Pines Brewing and Pirate Life by AB InBev(CUB) demonstrates the appetite of larger companies to tap into the estimated $740 million per annum of the Australian craft beer industry (AFR).  Fine Food Australia looks at the styles, ingredients and practices that will rise to prominence in 2018.

Pilsners and lager will make a comeback

Andrew Georgiou of Melbourne-based Fury and Son Brewing believes brewers eager to win over a segment of the beer market still drinking mainstream lager, will see craft pilsners become increasingly popular in 2018.

“Craft beer doesn’t have to be complicated or challenging,” he says.  “I continue to find, when speaking to consumers, an innate fear about approaching a different style of beer.”

With many craft drinkers looking to simplify the selection process, the desire for easy drinking and lower alcohol volume in beers, will remain all year round.

“We want every consumer to know that there is a well-constructed, balanced and sessionable beer available at all times of the year,” says Georgiou.

Use of high-quality fruit in funky and barrel aged beers

Inspired by the great Lambic beers of Belgium, many producers are using high-quality fruit in their farmhouse ales to great acclaim.  Sailors Grave Brewing in Orbost, East Gippsland, use produce from their garden as well as from nearby farms. Using fruits such as organic apricots for their seasonal release; Australian Gothic, consumers are responding well and loving the taste.

Sailors Grave’s recent collaboration with Hargreaves Hill Brewing, in which they created a seasonal beer named The Bramble; brought a little of their respective locales together: blackberries from the Yarra Valley and elderflower foraged by the Sailors Grave team in East Gippsland.

Sour IPAs


A growing number of ‘hops ‘n’ acid’ beers are being released from local brewers, with consumers looking for more full-flavoured brews with a funky twist; as can be seen from Gage Roads Brewing Co. with their Sleeping Giant IPA.  And with sour beer heavyweight BrewDog’s imminent move to a premise in Brisbane, this style is tipped to hit the mainstream.    

“The sour trend has really taken off over the last six to 12 months, and I’m curious to see where it’s headed…”, says Georgiou.  “My hope is that they don’t evolve into a style unto their own, and take away from what a true sour should taste like. And in doing so, alienate new beer drinkers from trying them.”

Use of wild yeasts and mixed fermentation

An interest in beers made of character and identity have inspired brewers like Costa Nikias of La Sirene Brewing into experimentation. Nikias believes the use of wild yeast provides the magic flavour profiles of their beers.

“I talk about the ‘personality of our site’ from a microbial perspective and wild yeast that is indigenous to our brewery is the key to all of it.”

“We allow the wild yeast and bacteria floating around in the air to do the work and hence decide what the dominant culture will be that ferments our artisan ales. This is perhaps the truest representation of ‘terroir’ in beer.”

High strength beers – Double IPAs

A 2017 Beer Cartel Craft Beer Survey found IPA and Double IPA styles continue to be Australia’s dominant favourite at 33 per cent of voters.

Mountain Goat Beer’s Head Brewer, Ian Morgan, believes the continued trend of craft beer drinkers opting for quality over quantity, as well as more of a taste for punchy, full flavoured, hop-driven styles; sees the category continuing to surge in popularity.

“We’re fortunate that the world’s hop growers have continued to expand the varieties of hops available, as well as the quantity.”

Unfiltered beers

Consumer perception is changing, and it’s not just the enhanced flavour profile they seek, but the feeling of a more natural, less tampered with product.

Unfiltered beers, and wines for that matter, are very exciting as well as nerve-racking,” says Nikias.

“Filtration removes all the goodness that we work so hard to instil in the final beer.  We value cloudy products that are full of proteins, flavour compounds and volatile esters as these products with their ‘cloudiness’ are truly representative of old world Farmhouse Ales. They provide a smoother mouthfeel that has a texture to it.”

Beer with a sense of place

Following in the footsteps of the farm-to-table movement popular in the restaurant scene, more brewers are applying this concept to their practice.  Kooinda Brewing Company is one example of this, with a story emphasizing their beer; past, present and future; being  inspired by their beginnings as the first local licensed brewery in Australia.

“Beer having a sense of place is what we’ve been banging on about since 2010, and it’s why we selected the site we have,” says Nikias.

“It borders 70 hectares of protected parklands on one side and the Darebin creek on the other, which are both teeming with microflora and is the contributing factor to allow us to make ‘beers with a sense of place and time’.”

“We use local grains and malts where possible…sustainability is a natural by-product of working in this way.”

If you’d like to learn more about the latest trends, producers and ingredients, visit Drinks Collective at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from September 10-12, 2018.

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