What a week it has been in beer! The Good Beer Week in Melbourne concluded last week, with GABS (Great Australian Beer SpecTapular) running all weekend, where over 250 craft beers were put on tap.
Of course, when Good Beer Week is running, this also means the AIBA (Australian International Beer Awards) are also held. This year’s event featured 1,560 beer entries from over 290 brewers from around the world, with a panel of 40 expert judges from Australia and 6 other countries presiding over the awards.
The most prestigious award, the Champion Australian Beer, was this year won by Mash Brewing, from Western Australia’s Swan Valley for their heavyhopped Mash AIPA (American India Pale Ale). Other big winners on the night included Victoria’s 3 Ravens, which took out best small Australian brewery as well as best British style ale. Noncraft beer James Boag’s Draught won the best Australian style lager, whilst the epitome of craft beer, small brewer Kaiju! Beer Hopped Out Red took out best amber/dark ale, much to the surprise of their founders, Nat, Callum and Clara
Other, more informal awards to take place during Good Beer Week was the Beer Lovers Guide’s Critics Choice awards, as voted on by 39 of Australia’s most respected beer critics.
Unsurprisingly, the staples of the Australian craft beer market, beers like Feral Brewing Hop Hog, Stone & Wood Pacific Ale and Little Creatures Pale Ale and IPA all took out top spots.
But the most prestigious and celebrated of all award ceremonies this week must be the drum roll please, the Adrian Moran Australian Craft Beer Journey Awards. So, here are my top beers in eight categories I have selected. All these beers have been chosen on the criteria of being Australian, being available in Canberra and being delicious representative of what craft beer is.
- Best Lager: Moondog Love Tap – Big, fruity, 5.9% double lager Available in bottles from Plonk and First Choice Liquor
- Best Wheat Beer: HopDog Beer Works Bingo Wings – Lots of fruit, citrus with some bitterness, but minimal banana tastes Available in bottles from Plonk
- Best British Style Ale: Young Henrys Real Ale – Subtle tastes and aromas, indicative of fuggle hops Available on tap from Transit Bar and Honkytonks
- Best Pale Ale: Little Creatures Pale Ale – Citrus flavours and aromas, with a sharp bitterness Available on tap in several locations including the Gungahlin Lakes Sports Club, The Durham Castle Arms and Transit Bar
- Best IPA: Feral Brewing Hop Hog IPA – Sharp bitterness and citrus nose Available on tap at The Durham Castle Arms and Transit Bar
- Best Amber Ale/Dark Ale: Stone & Wood Stone Beer – Coffee and rich, with ridiculously intense malty overtones Available on tap from ABaker
- Best Porter: Holgate Temptress Porter – Chocolate, coffee and caramel flavours with a hint of vanila Available in bottles from Plonk
- Best Stout: Wig and Pen Velvet Stout – smooth, velvety mouth feel with rich cocoa and chocolate malt flavours Available on tap from Wig and Pen
So with all this in mind, your homework for this week is to get to any of these fine craft beer locations, taste the beer and tell me your findings.
What’s impressing me?
- Evolution of craft beer; Every single day, the craft beer industry continues to evolve even further
- Wig and Pen; The beers are great, that’s a given. But hand pulled, traditional cask beers are what really excites me, particularly as the cold weather creeps in.
- Live music and craft beer; Zierholz and Transit Bar continue the trend of holding great music events and serving cracking beer at the same time. But can we one day watch the Brumbies or Raiders play whilst drinking a great craft beer too?
Adrian Moran has been pouring beers for over nine years and runs a weekly podcast devoted to craft beer