BentSpoke rides to top of Hottest 100 Craft Beers

Amidst the excitement and debate that has come to be part of the annual craft beer popularity poll, Canberra’s BentSpoke Brewing has claimed the title of Australia’s hottest beer of 2020.

After half a decade of Stone & Wood’s Pacific Ale and Balter’s XPA having a lock on the #1 spot, BentSpokes climbed two spaces on its 2019 result.

Brewer and co-founder Richard Watkins couldn’t contain his excitement at the result, but also highlighted the ACT’s strong results over all.

“We’re blown away that our small independent brewery from Canberra can take Crankshaft to the number one spot in Australia’s biggest beer poll. Crankshaft holds a very special place in our hearts as one of our original beers on tap when we first opened in Canberra in 2014. We are thrilled with the support for Crankshaft from Canberra and around Australia,” he said.

“So many of our friends and colleagues at breweries around the country have done so well in this year’s poll, we are especially proud that Canberra brewers have 12 spots in the top 100. It’s a testament to the local culture here – customers really believe in drinking good quality local beer and supporting small independent breweries.”

“The best thing about this competition is that it’s voted on by the people that drink your beer,” he said.

“As a brewer, it’s always immensely validating to know that not only are we making technically good beer that wins awards, but that people love to drink the beer we’re brewing all around the country.”

More votes, but fewer breweries in 100

Mike Bray, who purchased GABS Enterprises, which conducts the annual poll from in late 2019, celebrated the growth of the vote this year, with a more than 10 per cent increase in votes cast.

Mike told the Radio Brews News podcast live countdown that were more than 1950 beers that received votes.

“It puts craft top of mind, which is the whole point of the Hottest 100,” he said.

“Look at all the parties going on around the country, people talking craft beer.

“We can see the number of venues hosting parties, and not just craft beer venues but pubs, which shows how [the competition] is broadening the scope of craft beer.”

While the 2020 poll saw an increase in votes, the top 100 continued to shrink in brewery diversity, even as more breweries enter the market.

In 2020 just 41 breweries were represented at the top of the table, down from 45 in 2019 and 46 in 2018. More than a quarter of the placings were taken by just five breweries.

Bray dismissed concerns that smaller breweries or breweries that weren’t actively campaigning were missing out.

“Just look at the list,” he said. “We have 36 new entrants and 15 new beers brewed for the first time in 2020.”

“Whether you are a small brewpub or larger national, I think what matters is that you are part of the conversation.”

Queensland dominates

Queensland again dominated the top of the list with 27 beers in the hundred, down two from the previous poll. Victoria was the biggest mover, seeing an increase of six beers to 25 top spots with New South Wales losing two with 23.

The ACT again punched well above its population weight with 12 beers, the same as 2019. WA lost two from the top 100 to claim only four spots, while Tasmania again failed to claim a beer in the main part of the list.

Independent beers claimed 85 of the top 100 spots.

The full list

Full breakdowns of the top 100 main list, indie craft beers, new for 2020 and the next 100 are available on the GABS website.

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