I usually flap around in the creamy middle of life, where winning is an unfamiliar extravagance. I commit no acts of gallantry, show very little daring, and take minimal risks – yielding even more minimal rewards.

In a twist of fortune, a phone call on Australia Day 2014 turned my good luck on its balding, bearded head. My fleshy hands fumbled as Steve of The Local Taphouse delivered the defining news of my life: you are a winner. I left this life for the next.

As I drove home, I let a chant erupt: WINNER. WINNER. WINNER!

Unable to make sense of his emotions, Judd’s message of congratulations simply read: HAGFDHJAGFBLHSKDBLSKJGFBSL;KDGVNL;SAK.

For voting in The Crafty Pint's Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beer Poll for 2013, I was chosen as the recipient of a case of each of the top five placing beers.

For the remainder of the afternoon, I watched the countdown with sick fascination. I beamed a triumphant grin with the implacable sense of entitlement of Veruca Salt – Daddy, a winner’s never this parched, I want my beer NOW.

The results reflected the popular nature of the poll – perennial but deserved favourites Feral Hop Hog and Stone and Wood Pacific Ale took out the top spots. The granddaddy of Australian craft, now showing his age, Little Creatures Pale Ale was third. Fourth and fifth places belonged to 4 Pines Pale Ale and Little Creatures’ new IPA.

Nothing I could write about the aforementioned beers hasn’t been expressed before. It goes without saying that they are all wonderful beers, as balanced and composed as they are distinctive.

                                                                                        Image credit:  Local Taphouse

                                                                                        Image credit: Local Taphouse

The fun of the poll was matched only by mine and Judd’s trip to Scratch Bar, Milton, to collect our winnings. Scratch Bar is a wonderfully dedicated and enlightened island of beer in the middle of the ‘80s abomination that Park Road can often seem to be. I was graciously awarded my prize from the equally excited guys at the bar. After a celebratory 4 Pines Stout, I strutted out the door, prizes in hand. It could have been a roast chicken, it could have been a washer-dryer combo, or it could have been five cases of excellent Australian beer. I was a winner.