Where have all the beer styles gone?

Recently we were reminiscing about our beer journey, including some of the first Aussie brews we drank on a fairly regular basis. People often talk about the extended beer landscape and how old styles are finding space in the fridges again, yet it’s new trends in beer that dominate social media feeds and create the buzz. It’s all about hazy bois, a trend that really took off at GABS 2016 and hasn’t seemed to die down since.

With growing opportunities for breweries to put their spin on styles, what happened to some of the stalwarts of the brewing scene from ~10 years ago? Beer styles that were readily available (as much as they could be) on shelves, filling our fridges and offering drinkers something other than hazy pales, hazy IPAs, hazy lagers….well, you get the idea. Or is it all a bit of a haze?

Some of the OG NEIPAS found around Australia. These guys all made a splash circa 2016-17.


While most beer drinkers know Feral Hop Hog and Biggie Juice, who can remember Karma Citra? A black IPA that was once part of their core range and not even listed on their current website. Or Feral Smoked Porter which, along with Matso’s Smoky Bishop, were the first smoked beers we ever tried (even though the latter is categorised as a Munich Dunkel on the Beer Advocate website), and they are no longer available for purchase.

Interestingly, dark lagers seem to be having another moment in the sun. Where once these styles were almost forgotten, now we’re seeing Future Magic Schwarzbier, Burleigh Japan Black, Green Beacon Midnight Lager, Killer Sprocket Knight Fall Schwarzbier, Milton Common Dark Days, Happy Valley Schwarzbier and a few others that pop up seasonally.

And brown beers? You can almost forget about it. Mornington Peninsula Mornington Brown is a standout in this category, and one that’s fairly well stocked, but even seasonally this style/colour only flash up occasionally. White Lies Busta’ Nut Brown Ale is a core range brown, with a hint of – you guessed it – hazlenut. Frankenbrown by Big Shed is part of their core range, but that might have to do with the fact that they are based in SA where the climate is slightly more condusive to drinking darker styles (or at least so say the general public).

When it’s brewed, Revel Brewing Browntown American Brown Ale is an absolute cracker – get your hands on some! Within the last 12 months Sea Legs released a more traditional English-style brown ale, and Bacchus Brewing always has their equivalent of Newcastle Brown on hand pump, but out of alllll the breweries in Brisbane/Gold Coast, these are the few that come to mind. We’ve heard this can be a tricky style to master, with brown malts easily becoming murky and hazy in the final product (no one wants to drink a beer that looks like a mud puddle), which is truly a shame because a well done brown ale is toasty, nutty, and perfectly balanced with bitterness.

Those sultry dark beers to which we refer. Karma Citra, we miss you!

The ever-evolving rotation of beers is fascinating to watch. After more than eight years working in the industry, plus additional time on top of that drinking beer and finding favourites disappear from the shelves, the styles we see making a resurgence are still not always as diversified as the landscape once was. It’s almost like the abundance of choice has pigeonholed some breweries into only making what the market is currently drinking instead of trying to recruit new drinkers by way of traditional, perhaps more familiar styles. Craft lager is, of course, making a bit of a comeback, but the styles that got many of us into beer in the first place – sweet amber ales, for instance – are ones that seem harder to find.

Stay tuned for the next edition of this thought experiement as we discuss saisons, wheat beers, and the new-again session beers.

Until then, cheers to good beers!