Australian International Beer Awards Winners 2016

Hosts Pete "Prof Pilsner" Mitcham and Kirrily "Beer Diva" Waldhorn's pre-dinner plea for certain brewers to up their game in the sartorial sense ahead of last night's Australian International Beer Awards dinner appears to have fallen on deaf ears. But no one present was bemoaning the lack of suit or tie as first Michael Cameron of Pirate Life then Brad Rogers of Stone & Wood collected the Champion Small and Large Australian Brewery titles respectively.

Indeed, the latter even poked fun at the Beer Diva's request that he bought some new shoes for the event by removing one of his old ones and placing it atop her immaculately coiffeured head as he collected his second trophy of the night – in only the second year that Stone & Wood had entered the awards. That said, the Two Birds were on hand to keep up appearances, with Jayne Lewis and Dani Allen (pictured above enjoying a moment) leading their entire team onstage to collect the Medium Brewery award, completing a night that also saw them take out a trophy for their Sunset Ale and golds for their Golden Ale and Taco.

Meanwhile, Steve "Hendo" Henderson proved that all he had to do was grow a beard to win the trophy he'd long desired (and, according to his acceptance speech for Champion Gypsy Brewer, get Grum of Exit Brewing to make his beers). 

"Holy fuck!" the BrewCult founder exclaimed as he took to the podium, gazing adoringly at his gong. "This is amazing."

Will Hendo manage to put down his trophy before next year's awards dinner?


He wasn't the only major trophy winner to drop an F-bomb, with Brad declaring: "Ten years ago we got the fuck out of the empire to do our own thing [he and Stone & Wood co-founders Jamie Cook and Ross Jurisich all worked for CUB previously]. We're proud and independent."

And he said afterwards that he hoped the win – which follows a silver medal for the brewery's Pacific Ale at the World Beer Cup – would inspire other local brewers to believe.

"For the three of us, it's been ten years together since the decision to do what we did," he said. "Ten years when we've been through ups and downs, so this is a huge pat on the back. We have grown independently and gone into [the Large Brewery] category so we are seeing it can be done.

"That's such an important thing for us: people need to see that independent brewers can grow, have a great team and do really well and make great beer."

Their success follows fellow independent brewery 4 Pines' win in the Large Brewery category last year, while Two Birds' triumph follows two years in which they took out champion brewery titles at the Craft Beer Awards.

A "very, very happy" brewer Jayne said it showed the importance of brewing consistent beer. Her fellow Bird Dani, who celebrated the birth of her first child a few months ago, said both occasions were "rewarding in their own special way" before adding: "But building a brewery is much harder than having a baby!"

Brad Rogers of Stone & Wood, minus a shoe but with his team, collects the brewery's second trophy of the night.


Success for Pirate Life continued a remarkable start to life for the South Australian brewery that only released its first beer in March last year. On the back of a gold rush at the Perth Royal Beer Show, taking three of the top eleven places in the Hottest 100 Beers of 2015 and three top ten showings in the recent Critic’s Choice awards, it took out three titles – Best Reduced / Low Alcohol Beer for Throwback IPA, Best Packaging for its Golden Era collab with the Hilltop Hoods and the Champion Small Brewery – with the only downside being that one of the founders, brewer Red Proudfoot, was ill and missed the presentations.

"It's been a fantastic year for us," said CEO Michael, who took to the stage each time with son and brewer Jack. "It underpins our ambition to continue making great beer, consistently, well made, as fresh as we can." 

In accepting the Champion Australian Beer trophy, Gage Roads acknowledged that they'd been on a roller coaster in recent years – there had been a major recall of faulty product at one point and a recent announcement that they'd lost a significant amount of contract orders from part-owner Woolworths – which made the trophy all the more sweeter. The winning beer, Little Dove, was a collaborative effort for which head brewer Aaron Heary brought together the entire brewing team to design the beer.

Pirate Life collecting the last of three trophies at the 2016 Australian International Beer Awards.


Last year's winners of that trophy, Mountain Goat, came close again, with the just-released Zymurgist IPA shortlisted for the trophy after winning Best IPA, while the brewery's new owners, Asahi, had double cause for celebration as their other craft brand, Cricketers Arms, picked up Best Australian Style Lager. Two of the other lager trophies went to the Sydney Brewery, whose cape wearing head brewer Michael Capaldo can't stop collecting trophies for his Lovedale Lager, which was joined on the winners' roster by his Glamarama Summer Ale. Peroni Nastro Azzuri brewed under license by CUB and Stone & Wood's pilot batch Schwarzbier rounded out the lager winners.

The Crafty Pint-sponsored Beer Media Award went to one of our occasional contributors, the Illawarra Mercury's beer writer Glen Humphries, for his work on the Beer is your Friend blog. He only discovered he had a ticket on the media table at the dinner on Tuesday but now follows Matt Kirkegaard of Brews News and Luke Robertson of Ale of a Time as the third recipient of the trophy. James Atkinson of Brews News and Pia Poynton of girl + beer (and of this parish) were shortlisted.

The pale ale categories are often the most numerous in terms of entries at any awards show, a point that was alluded to by Grant Wearin, owner of Modus Operandi, at last October’s CBIA awards when he spoke of the pride in his brewery having won the award for Champion Pale Ale amid such broad competition. No doubt he and the the rest of the MO team will be sore from smiling after taking possession of the Best International Pale Ale for their Modus Pale, adding to a quite extraordinary list of accolades that belies the brewery’s short existence. 

At the other end of the spectrum, it was a welcome first time in the spotlight for South Australia's Swell Brewing Company, which won the Best Australian Style Pale Ale trophy for its Golden Ale, while in another award celebrating newness, the Gary Sheppard Memorial Trophy for Best New Exhibitor went to the Barrabool Hills Brewery Co in Geelong, responsible for Cockies Beer.


INTERNATIONAL WINNERS

In the international section, the Boston Beer Company, best known for its Samuel Adams Boston Lager, romped to victory on the night, taking out Champion International Beer with the decidedly un-lager-like Kosmic Mother Funk Grand Cru wild ale, as well as the Best Belgian / French Style Ale for its Stony Brook Red Flemish red ale. Compatriots Ballast Point – some beer of which, serendipitously, only poured for the first time in Australia on the evening of the awards – will carry the title of Champion International Brewery back over the Pacific, along with the trophy for Best British Style Ale for the California Amber. One state north, Oregon’s Pelican Brewing Company will be squeezing a few more inches of space on the mantlepiece for another trophy after a second successive win in the Champion Medium International Brewery category.

New Zealand’s three year grip on the Champion Small International Brewery was torn away by the inimitable and high spirited Brendan Moylan and his eponymous brewery. Moylan’s category win was propelled by Chelsea Moylan’s Porter, a beer named for his daughter, which won the Best Porter award. In a similarly dark turn, Wormtown Brewery from Massachusetts got their hands on on gold when their Spies Like Us Russian Imperial Stout won the Best Stout award. The other trophy to head Stateside was one awarded to canning pioneers Oskar Blues for their Old Chub Scotch Ale in the Best Scotch Ale/Barley Wine category, just days after Phoenix Beers announced their beers are coming to Australia for the first time legit.

The Bavarians proved that they really do know what they’re doing when it comes to wheat beers as the world’s oldest brewery, Weihenstephaner, repeated its 2015 victory in retaining the trophy for Best Wheat Beer courtesy of the always fine Kristall Weissbier. 


Australian International Beer Awards 

Champion Trophy Winners

Gage Roads head brewer Aaron Heary collects the trophy for Champion Australian Beer of 2016.


Champion Australian Beer
Little Dove (Draught) – Gage Roads Brewing Co. (WA)

Champion International Beer
Samuel Adams Kosmic Mother Funk Grand Cru (Packaged) – Boston Beer Company (USA) 

Champion Large Australian Brewery
Stone and Wood Brewing Co. (NSW)

Champion Medium Australian Brewery
Two Birds Brewing (VIC)

Champion Small Australian Brewery
Pirate Life Brewing (SA)

Champion Large International Brewery
Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits – (USA)

Champion Medium International Brewery
Pelican Brewing Company (USA)

Champion Small International Brewery
Moylan’s Brewing Company (USA)

Australian Gypsy Brewer Award
BrewCult (VIC) 

Gary Sheppard Memorial Trophy for Best New Exhibitor
Barrabool Hills Brewery Co. (VIC)


Major Trophy Winners

A rose between two thorns... The Two Birds with brewer Wilson Hede.


Best Scotch Ale/Barley Wine
Old Chub Scotch Ale (Packaged) – Oskar Blues Brewery (USA)

Best Belgian/French Style Ale
Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red (Packaged) – Boston Beer Company (USA)

Best Wheat Beer
Weihenstephaner Kristall Weissbier (Packaged) – Weihenstephaner, (GER)

Best Reduced/Low Alcohol Beer
Pirate Life Throwback IPA (Draught) – Pirate Life Brewing (SA)

Best Stout
Spies Like Us (Packaged) – Wormtown Brewery (USA)

Best Porter
Chelsea Moylan’s Porter (Packaged) – Moylan’s Brewing Company (USA)

Best Amber/Dark Ale
Two Birds Sunset Ale (Draught) – Two Birds Brewing (VIC)

Best Speciality Beer
Samuel Adams Kosmic Mother Funk Grand Cru (Packaged) – Boston Beer Company (USA)

Best IPA
The Zymurgist (Draught) – Mountain Goat Beer (VIC) 

Best British Style Ale
California Amber (Packaged) – Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits (USA)

Best International Style Pale Ale
Modus Pale Ale (Draught) – Modus Operandi Brewing Company (NSW)

Best New World Style Pale Ale
Little Dove (Draught) – Gage Roads Brewing Co. (WA)

Best Australian Style Pale Ale
Swell Golden Ale (Packaged) – Swell Brewing Co. (SA)

Best Amber/Dark Lager
Stone & Wood Schwarzbier (Draught) – Stone & Wood Brewing Co. (NSW)

Best International Lager
Glamarama Summer Ale (Draught) – Sydney Brewery (NSW)

Best European Style Lager
Lovedale Lager (Draught) – Sydney Brewery (NSW)

Best Pilsner
Peroni Nastro Azzurro (Draught) – Carlton & United Breweries, (QLD)

Best Australian Style Lager
Cricketers Arms Keepers Lager (Packaged) – Asahi Beverages (VIC)

Best Packaging
Golden Era Golden Ale (Outer Carton) – Pirate Life Brewing (SA)

AIBA Media Award
Glen Humphries – www.beerisyourfriend.org


Additional reporting by Nick O. You can find the full results here.

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