Where can you find the world’s best beers? Would you believe it if I told you the answer leads to Docklands? Held in Melbourne, the Australian International Beer Awards are the largest annual beer competition in the world judging both draught and packaged beer. Following three days of judging 2,178 entries, the AIBA cumulated in a gala dinner to announce the winners.
It was a celebratory affair with 800 people packing into the waterside Peninsula venue in Docklands to witness the results. The red carpet was rolled out, brewers sported bowties, and a silver Airstream trailer served as a bar pouring all manner of beers.
The awards showcased the diversity in beer flavours and styles, with new categories added to reflect current trends and consumer interest. There was something for everyone amongst the medal winners (even for the most sceptical of drinkers). Easy-drinking lagers, tropical pale ales, chocolate porters, and speciality beers with cinnamon, feijoa, and smoke all received accolades.
Brewers Association executive chef Adam Dulye celebrated the diversity of flavours from last year’s champions with his multi-course meal. His first course was paired with a speciality collaboration beer made by Stone & Wood, Balter, Green Beacon, and Pact. Named ‘We Do It For The Passion…. Fruit Tart IPA’, the refreshing beer was matched with a spicy roast cauliflower dish. (Or as Dulye called it, ‘a vegan monkey brain’). His second pairing was also an unexpected match: he wanted to show how white ale can hold up to smoke and red meat. So for the main course, Dulye served the 2017 championship beer, White Rabbit’s White Ale, paired with beef brisket.
Breweries large and small were awarded trophies from the judges’ blind tastings. Launching just over a year ago, NSW-based Philter Brewing won awards for both Best Australian Style Pale Ale and Champion Australian Gypsy Brewer. Their enthusiasm was palpable as brewer Samara Füss declared, ‘We’re gonna make good beer and we’re gonna sell good beer and we’re gonna have fun doing it!’
Melbourne brewery Mountain Goat has continued to collect medals after its sale to Asahi in 2015, this year picking up the Champion Large Australian Brewery trophy. QLD-based Green Beacon stepped up from last year to win Champion Medium Brewery. While Black Hops, another Queensland brewery, took their place as Champion Small Australian Brewery. If you’re in Perth, keep your eyes peeled for the Northbridge Brewpub. It’s pouring Beerland Brewing’s Wheat Beer – an appealing draught beer that won the prestigious Champion Australian Beer trophy!
Australian Champion Trophy Winners:
- Champion Australian Beer – Beerland Wheat Beer – Beerland Brewing WA
- Champion Large Australian Brewery – Mountain Goat Beer VIC
- Champion Medium Australian Brewery – Green Beacon Brewing Co, QLD
- Champion Small Australian Brewery – Black Hops Brewing, QLD
- Gary Sheppard Memorial Trophy for Best New Exhibitor – Brownstone Microbrewery, VIC
- Australian Gypsy Brewer Award –Philter Brewing, NSW
- Champion International Beer – Knotty – Three Weavers Brewing Company, USA
- Champion Large International Brewery – Firestone Walker Brewing Co., USA
- Champion Medium International Brewery – Mahrs Bräu Bamberg GMBH, Franconia/Bavaria, Germany
- Champion Small International Brewery – Kereru Brewing Company Limited, Wellington, NZ
A full list of the winners is available from the Royal Agriculture Society Victoria. Congratulations to all!
Jenny Schmidt loves the magic of fermentation and supports local craft beer alchemy.
The Australian International Beer Awards are conducted by RASV, who also manage the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards and Australian Distilled Spirits Awards. Their next event, Agriculture: The Heart of Victoria, celebrates Victorian farmers and producers.