Two very different beers from two very different breweries took out the top trophies at the 2018 Sydney Royal Beer & Cider Show. Pirate Life's Mosaic IPA picked up yet another piece of silverware, claiming Champion Packaged Beer, while the Lord Nelson – now into its fourth decade of brewing – scooped Champion Draught Beer for its Nelspresso Brown Ale.
Blair Hayden, who’s been the driving force behind The Lord since launching it as a brewpub in the mid-1980s, says winning a trophy at his local beer awards was incredibly humbling.
“For us it’s a proud moment that the Lord Nelson is recognised as brewing great ales,” Blair says.
He added that, while he’s proud of the decades he’s spent leading Australia down the “merry path of real ale”, the champion trophy shines a well deserved spotlight on head brewer Andrew Robson, who’s been with the brewery for more than 15 years.
“Andrew Robson made a fantastic job of it and I’m so proud of him for being recognised for what is a very long service to the Lord and for brewing very good beers consistently.”
For Pirate Life, it was a case of going back-to-back, with the Mosaic IPA named Champion Beer at the Perth Royal Beer Awards last month.
Michael Cameron, who started Pirate Life with his son Jack Cameron and Jack’s mate Jared "Red" Proudfoot, said: “I’ve got the greatest respect for Red and his ability to put recipes together and I think it’s all down to that. And Mosaic is just a cracking hop.
“Having it follow on from the win in Perth is really good for our team back at the brewery, who are getting hammed day in and day out on focusing on quality. So, it does help underpin that and we’ll continue doing our best in the world of making good beer.”
Just five champions were anointed this year, with the other major awards going to Hope Brewhouse for its Barrel Aged Extra Stout in the Champion Experimental or Specialty Beer category, Australian Brewery for Seis Hermanos Mexican Lager, which won Best NSW Beer, and Flying Brick Cider Co for its Original Cider, which was named Champion Cider.
Hope head brewer Matt Hogan told The Crafty Pint the trophy was further recognition following the brewery's strong haul of medals at both the AIBAs and The Indies.
"It's a nice little top off for competition season," Matt says.
It was the second year running the Barrel Aged Extra Stout had won the trophy, with Matt adding that last year's win had encouraged the brewery to give the beer a wider release.
“It was part of our seasonal range 12 months ago,” he says. “Off the back off the 2017 results, we put it into more regular production and it's about to get a bit of a rebrand as it's more in our core range now than being limited or seasonal release.”
The awards took place at the Sydney Showgrounds, with a total of 225 beers and ciders entered, with 22 winning golds.
Brewer and educator Neal Cameron chaired the awards and said: “The quality of the beers we are getting through is just incredible, to the point that, if brewers don’t reach a certain marking standard, judges become a little annoyed that you have made them drink that beer.
“The quality of ciders was also exemplary this year.”
The other gold medal-winning beers featured a lineup of beers from breweries of all shapes and sizes from New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, with Gage Roads (four), Hope Brewhouse (three) CUB, Gage Roads, Modus Operandi, Sydney Brewery and Stockade Brew Co (two each) all scoring multiple golds.
They were awarded to Sydney Brewery's Lovedale Lager (both packaged and draught), CUB's Carlton Black and Pure Blonde Ultra Low Carb, Modus Operandi Session IPA and Former Tenant Red IPA, Gage Roads Single Fin (packaged and draught), IIPA and Sea Devil Imperial Stout, Brewboys Ace of Spades, Stockade Brew Co Old Money and The Mountie, Woolshed Brewery Judas The Dark, Australian Brewery Seis Hermanos, Hope Brewhouse Barrel Aged Export Stout, XPA and Pale Ale, and Lord Nelson Nelspresso Brown Ale.