Australian International Beer Awards 2015 Winners

"Love is the answer. Love IS the answer," said a visibly moved Matt Houghton from Boatrocker Brewery, channeling the spirit of the late Rik Mayall as he accepted the trophy for Champion Small Australian Brewery at last night's Australian International Beer Awards. Golds for his Mitte Berliner Weisse and forthcoming barley wine Banshee helped Boatrocker take out the title.

But it was the recipient of two trophies for another barley wine that brought the biggest cheers of the night as Mountain Goat, a few months ahead of their 18th birthday, collected the Champion Australian Beer award for its about to be released Lark Distillery barrel-aged barley wine. Prior to dinner, a judge had told The Crafty Pint that when it came to tasting the beers that had made the last round (in which they pick the overall winner), the bigger beers – in particular scotch ales and barley wines – had all present in agreement that there were beers there you simply could not better.

And so it proved, as their first "Barrel Breed" brought co-founders Dave Bonighton (above left) and Cam Hines to the stage at the end of the night. For a brewery that has struggled to find the time or capacity to release many small batch new brews in recent times, even with most of its production now outsourced, this will no doubt encourage some creative rearranging of the brewing schedule at Goat's Richmond home so they can produce more of what Dave likes to call "the fun stuff".

Other big Aussie winners on the night were Thunder Road, who took out the Champion Medium Australian Brewery category for the second year running (ahead of Goat and Feral for the second year running) and 4 Pines Brewing, who were crowned Champion Large Australian Brewery.

At the annual New South Wales Pint of Origin Beergustation at The Rainbow just two nights before the AIBA awards dinner, Jaron Mitchell, founder and general manager of 4 Pines, put himself on the line and proclaimed to the crowd that, such was the improvement in quality of beer in NSW, the state would do better than any other at the awards. With Byron Bay Brewery collecting two trophies, the Little Brewing Company one (brewer Warwick Little was, typically, completing a brew when we texted to tell him late last night...), and Thirsty Crow one he seems to have been pretty prescient. What's more, the surfers launching Balter on the Gold Coast will be pretty chuffed to have snapped up Byron Bay's former brewer, Scotty Hargrave (pictured top right), knowing he brewed two trophy winning beers before moving on.

Perhaps most notable about 4 Pines' trophy is that it was in the Large Brewery category. For the past two years, this has been taken out by CUB / SABMiller but now the smaller breweries are starting to reach the level of capacity where they qualify for the biggest category. Indeed, CUB didn't even make the top three with the Coca Cola-backed Australian Beer Co and Woolworths-backed Gage Roads completing the shortlist in the category. With 4 Pines taking the title, it means all three Champion Australian Brewery titles went to small, independent, 100 percent Australian-owned breweries too.

The Crafty Pint sponsored Media Award went to Luke Robertson of Ale of a Time. We don't get involved in judging other than to put together the guidelines and panel of judges but would have put money on Luke, with his combination of frequently opinionated writing on the Ale of a Time blog combined with the entertaining and professionally produced Ale of a Time podcast he runs with Dave Ellis and Luke's girlfriend Emma Bemrose, giving him a quality body of work. As well as the trophy, Luke will receive a $1,500 "digital makeover" from Peach Creative, the web team behind The Crafty Pint and Good Beer Week websites.

Elsewhere, the much loved Temptress from Holgate Brewhouse won Best Porter, while Temple continued its comeback after closing for a few months in 2013 and later changing ownership with the announcement that their Anytime IPA, reworked by brewer Glenn Harrison, had won the award for Best International Pale Ale.


In the international stakes, there'll be more than a few folks raising a glass in the deep south of New Zealand as Dunedin's iconic Speight's Brewery took out the Champion International Beer for its 5 Malt Old Dark ale, capping a fine evening for the Lion-owned brewer which had already won the trophy for best Amber/Dark Ale.

On top of collecting Best Reduced/Low Alcohol for their Mini-APA, ClippedWing, the three Matts from Wellington's ParrotDog Brewery will have undoubtedly been celebrating long into the night before spending today adding the line 'Champion Small International Brewery' to their business cards. In doing so, they displaced two-time champions Renaissance but continued the impressive dominance of New Zealand brewers of the title. Other winners from the shaky isles included Epic who took out the coveted Best IPA for their Armageddon and the Dominion Breweries-owned Monteith's who collected Best Stout for their Velvet Stout.

Europe had good representation with the Champion Large International Brewery going to Belgium's Brouweris De Halve Maan and some classic beers picking up awards; the world's oldest brewer, Weihenstephan, took out the Best Wheat Beer title for their Kristall Weissbier, London's Fuller's won Best British Style Ale for their 1845 Celebration Strong Ale and Best Pilsner went to Trumer Pils.

Over the pond, the Champion Medium International Brewery award will find its way to Oregon's much-vaunted Pelican Pub & Brewery while their compatriots from Salt Lake City's Red Rock Brewery won Best Specialty Beer for their dandelion-infused Belgian ale, Paardebloem.

Confirming Asia's penchant for lager, Best Australian Style Lager went to the Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp for their 333 Premium Export, Best International Lager was won by the Red Horse Extra Strong Brew, brewed for San Miguel out of the Philippines, and China's Yantai Platinum Brewing Company won the trophy for Best New Exhibitor.

The awards dinner was the largest yet with 751 in attendance, confirming that, measured in any way you like, the Australian beer world – particularly this week of the year – continues to grow and grow. And long may that be the case.


2015 Australian International Beer Awards – Champion Trophy Winners

Barrett Burston Malting Trophy for Champion Australian Beer

  • Barley Wine – Barrel Breed, Draught – Mountain Goat Beer, VIC

ExpoNet Trophy for Champion International Beer

  • Speight's 5 Malt Old Dark, Packaged – Lion Beer Spirits Wine, NZ

GrainCorp Trophy for Champion Large Australian Brewery

  • 4 Pines Brewing Company, NSW

Barrett Burston Malting Trophy for Champion Large International Brewery

  • Brouweris De Halve Maan, Belgium

Kegstar Trophy for Champion Medium Australian Brewery

  • Thunder Road Brewing Company, VIC

Federation University Australia Trophy for Champion Medium International Brewery

  • Pelican Pub & Brewery, USA

FB*PROPAK Trophy for Champion Australian Small Brewery

  • Boatrocker Brewing Company, VIC

City of Ballarat Trophy for Champion International Small Brewery

  • ParrotDog Brewing, NZ

Gary Sheppard Memorial Trophy for Best New Exhibitor

  • Yantai Platinum Brewing Company, China

The Crafty Pint Trophy for the AIBA Media Award

  • Luke Robertson, Ale of a Time

2015 Australian International Beer Awards – Major Trophy Winners

Bargo Events Trophy for Best Australian Style Lager

  • 333 Premium Export – Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp, Vietnam

Federation University Australia Trophy for Best European Style Lager

  • Byron Bay Premium, Draught – The Byron Bay Brewing Co, NSW

Hellman Beverage Logistics Trophy for Best International Lager

  • Red Horse Extra Strong Brew, Packaged – San Miguel Beer Limited, Philippines

City of Ballarat Trophy for Best International Pale Ale

  • Anytime IPA, Draught – Temple Brewing Company, VIC

The Post Project Trophy for Best Australian Style Pale Ale

  • Sandman, Draught – The Byron Bay Brewing Co, NSW

Time Out Trophy for Best British Style Ale

  • Fuller's 1845 Celebration Strong Ale, Packaged – Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC, UK

Bargo Events Trophy for Best European Style Ale

  • Sporting Ale, Draught – Thirsty Crow, NSW

Kegstar Trophy for Best IPA

  • Epic Armageddon IPA, Draught – Epic Brewing Company, NZ

Cryermalt Trophy for Best Amber/Dark Ale

  • Speight's 5 Malt Old Dark, Packaged – Lion Beer Spirits Wine, NZ

Weyermann Specialty Malts Trophy for Best Porter

  • Temptress, Draught – Holgate Brewhouse, VIC

Spiegelau Trophy for Best Stout

  • Monteith's Velvet Stout, Packaged – DB Draught Brewery, NZ

Beer DeLuxe Trophy for Best Wheat Beer

  • Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier, Packaged – Weihenstephan, Germany

Brewtique Trophy for Best Belgian & French Style Ale

  • Mad Abbot Christmas Ale 2013, Packaged – The Little Brewing Company, NSW

RASV Trophy for Best Scotch & Barley Wine

  • Barley Wine – Barrel Breed, Draught – Mountain Goat Beer, VIC

Plasdene Glass-Pak Trophy for Best Specialty Beer

  • Red Rock Paardebloem, Packaged – Red Rock Brewing Co, USA

RASV Trophy for Best Reduced/Low Alcohol

  • ClippedWing, Packaged – ParrotDog Brewing, NZ

ExpoNet Trophy for Best Pilsner

  • Trumer Pils, Draught – Trumer Australia, VIC

Brewtique Trophy for Best Packaging

  • Bastard Children of the British Empire – 4 Pines Brewing Company, NSW

No trophies were awarded for Best Dark / Amber or in the new Gypsy Brewery category.

You can access a full rundown of medalists here.

Additional reporting by Nick O.

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