Beer ranking app Untappd has released its inaugural Untappd Community Awards, which celebrated the top beers from 50 countries worldwide and 50 U.S. states.

Of almost 7,500 breweries recognised globally in the awards for 2023, almost 200 were Australian breweries whose craft beer was deemed some of the best in the world by Untappd’s 11 million users.

For a beer to qualify for the Untappd Community Awards, it must have received at least 50 unique member check-ins in 2023, with beers then ranked according to their average rating.

There were plenty of awards to go around, with gold, silver and bronze rankings awarded to the top three beers in 268 unique beer substyles. With more than 1.5 million beers rated in 2023, fewer than 1.65 per cent of them (25,302 total) received an award, but impressively, almost 30 per cent of brewers (7,427 total) produced an award-winning beer.

Of the global list of award-winning beers, which included 21 substyles, two of the winners were Australian breweries. Taking the title for best IPA – New England/Hazy was Mountain Culture Beer Co with Mad Love, while Fox Friday Craft Brewery was awarded best Pale Ale – Australian for Takin’ A Hot Bath.

Kyle Roderick, Chief Product Officer at Next Glass, Untappd’s parent company, says the awards provide an opportunity to thank, recognise and celebrate breweries globally.

“Countless breweries all around the world brew amazing beer, and we felt we were overdue in highlighting the best beers across all styles, not just those that garner stratospheric average ratings.

“While there are plenty of awards to go around for various IPA and Stout substyles, the Untappd Community Awards will recognise annually the very best beers among all styles. In doing so, we honour a broad array of incredible beers from all around the world that our amazing user community regards as best-in-class.”

Australia’s top beers

With the results, Untappd also released a list of top ranked beers in Australia which features craft breweries of all sizes across a broad range of subcategories.

Some of Australia’s much-loved breweries made countless appearances on the list, such as Mountain Culture Beer Co and One Drop Brewing Co who dominated whole subcategories and scooped gold, bronze and silver awards.

Placing 27 times with 12 gold awards, Mountain Culture has already had an outstanding year awards-wise, having also topped the GABS Hottest 100 chart and taken first place for the second year running.

For Pat Thiering, who heads up the brewery’s limited release program, these kind of awards allow the team to take a step back and reflect on what they’ve achieved over the years.

Having opened just before the first wave of Covid and subsequent lockdowns, Untappd quickly became Mountain Culture’s only means of getting feedback from the wider craft beer community, and Thiering says the team will always have a soft spot for the app.

“Untappd turned into a tool for us to keep our finger on the pulse in terms of drinking trends, styles and ingredients that people are liking. Today, we still put a lot of effort into maintaining our Untappd page and I personally look through all of the check-ins to see how our beers are being received, and use this information to inform our upcoming brew schedules,” he said.

“Untappd can provide a great representation of what the craft community is actually drinking and enjoying, therefore it can be a valuable tool for breweries. Perhaps the best part of looking through this awards list is seeing so many breweries that we are good mates with and have worked closely with. It really speaks to the overall quality of Australian craft beer.”

As Mountain Culture continues to top charts, Thiering believes there are many reasons that the beers resonate with consumers, but he likes to think a lot of it boils down to the brewery’s efforts to hold the product central to everything it does.

From beer quality, to the finest ingredients, and time invested in education and resources, Thiering says the money that comes into the business is always reinvested in more staff, better equipment, and new and exciting ingredients.

“One of the big expenses was the Emu Plains expansion, which has allowed us access to cutting-edge technologies and ingredients, which has helped us keep up with the constantly maturing palates of the Australian craft beer community,” he said.

“Something else that I feel really connects besides the beer is the fact we have fun with the beer and the brand. Beer is about having fun and that is also central to what we do.

“We love engaging with the craft beer community who are a vocal bunch, and it’s platforms like Untappd that allow us to get almost instantaneous feedback on our beers, especially our limited release program which we use as a tool to drive our innovation so we can quickly learn and pivot based on the needs of our customers. It’s a great reward to hear that they enjoy what we’re doing.”

Sydney-based brewery One Drop placed 25 times on the list of Australia’s top beers, and 11 of their beers received gold awards. They dominated the sour category, and in the Sour – Fruited subcategory they were ranked first, second and third for their Raspberry Triple Take, Vibration Positive Double Fruited Sour, and Chase the Crazy Imperial Fruited Sour respectively, while also claiming all three rankings in the Sour – Fruited Gose and Sour – Smoothie/Pastry subcategories.

But for One Drop Owner Meg Barbic, the real standouts were topping and placing in other subcategories such as Pastry Stout, NZ IPA, American Lager, Japanese Rice Lager and Non-Alcoholic Beer – Porter/Stout to name a few.

“We are proud of the recognition and that all the hard work and love that goes into each brew has an audience who are really loving it,” she said.

“What sets us apart as different is that we have always been persistent in doing what we love, rather than what we think we should do. So we are humbled that our persistence in creativity, innovation and quality have given us this kind of recognition on a platform as huge as Untappd and hopefully we can contribute to an already booming perception of the craft beer in Australia on an international level.”

Another of Australia’s top performing craft breweries was Slow Lane Brewing. Owner Alex Jarman says: “We are very honoured to appear on the list among some incredible fellow Australian breweries, especially as many of the awards were for styles that we’re very passionate about such as Belgian and German styles.”

The brewery had 11 of its beers place on the list and received gold medals for six of them, including Days Gone By in the Märzen subcategory, Botany Weisse in Sour – Berliner Weisse, Fourfold in Belgian Quadrupel and Merry Merry in Belgian Strong Dark Ale.

“Our focus is on modern interpretations of old-world European beer styles,” Jarman added. “We are very passionate and very dedicated to producing authentic and high-quality versions of these styles. Hopefully this is a sign that customers are appreciating and recognising this dedication.”

Jarman was pleased to see such a wide range of beer styles recognised, saying: “Hopefully this increases the awareness amongst consumers of the wide variety of beer styles available outside of the most popular ones.”

Molly Rose Brewing Co was also among the breweries that made the list, ranking five times and receiving two gold awards for its Organic XX and Polished.

Nic Sandery, Founder and Brewer, said it was a fantastic feeling to have five beers place.

“It’s a great pat on the back to our brewers who make an incredibly diverse range of beers from non-alcs through to classic styles and really interesting hybrid beers that push boundaries. This recognition proves that our beers are consistently great and that people who are drinking them are thoroughly enjoying them. Is there anything more a brewery could ask for?”

Sandery says the approach of Molly Rose is to brew beers that are as approachable as can be, which perhaps explains the brewery’s success.

“We try really hard to ensure that there is balance bult into every beer so that you don’t need to be a cicerone to enjoy one of our beers. We want our most sessionable lager to have layers of complexity and our double IPA to have a clean, balanced bitterness and refined hop character, while our sours and farmhouse ales have acidity, funk and freshness all in balance.”

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