Local brewery goes back-to-back in GABS Hottest 100

DJ McCready celebrating the big win over the weekend.
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Mountain Culture Beer Co has once again topped the GABS Hottest 100 Craft Beer People’s Choice list, going back-to-back with their much-loved Status Quo Pale Ale.

Despite starting out in Katoomba, Mountain Culture’s Emu Plains factory has made their brews local favourites since opening in 2022.

This time last year, the team from Mountain Culture was celebrating topping the list in their first ever year entering, and according to co-owner DJ McCready, that triggered a meteoric rise for the business in the craft beer scene.

“It’s definitely been a crazy year,” he told the Weekender.

“We’ve grown our production capacity by about four times what it was this time last year, and we’ve done a huge upgrade to our breweries, so now we’re probably one of the largest independent breweries in the country.”

When the competition came around again, McCready said that entering Status Quo for a second time was a no-brainer.

“If I had one beer that represented Mountain Culture as a brewery, I would say Status Quo,” he said.

“We do a lot of different styles here, but still, when it comes to the one product that I consider to be Mountain Culture in a can, it’s for sure Status Quo.”

Despite feeling confident in their product, McCready admitted that there were even more nervous this year than last when the list was announced over the weekend.

“I remember the first year, we got down to where Balter was announced the number two beer in the country, and I still wasn’t convinced that Status Quo had made the list,” he said.

“This year, I went into it being like, ‘It’s okay, wherever we place we place, we’ve got an amazing business, we’ve got an amazing fan base that really supports us, it’ll be fine’, but all of that went out the window as soon as they started calling it out.”

McCready heard the top spot announced surrounded by his team, who were experiencing equal parts of joy and shock.

“The whole of last year, I’ve just thought that maybe people were voting for us because we were the underdogs, and they wanted to see the underdog come through and have some success, or maybe it was a fluke – I just didn’t want to allow myself to think that we would take it out again,” he said.

“It’s incredible, and it really is so, so validating. I’m incredibly grateful to the fan base that we have, and I’m really excited to take out the number one spot, because I think that it will help us to achieve our mission, which is to bring more people into being interested in craft beer in general – but hopefully Mountain Culture beer.”

Already preparing for next year’s list, McCready said he’s ready for a three-peat.

“The Penrith Panthers keep winning, and now that we’re down here in Emu Plains we’re just picking up on their mojo, so we’ve got to keep winning as well!” he said.

But, he added the top spot might be taken by a new beer, with the business launching the perfect easy to drink brew in APL this weekend.

“This is the first time we’ve added a beer to our core range in the last four years,” he said.

“It’s almost the opposite to Status Quo – it’s very light, it’s very clean, it’s very crisp.”

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