The trophy for Champion Beer at the 2019 Perth Royal Beer Awards is heading to the East Coast after 3 Ravens' New World IPA was judged the best commercial beer of the nearly 700 entries. But there was plenty of home state glory too as Feral and Innate Brewers collected the Champion Large and Small Brewery awards.
For Thornbury-based 3 Ravens, whose head brewer Brendan O'Sullivan hails from WA, taking out the top beer prize makes it two years of success at the WA beer industry's biggest awards night; last year, they collected Champion Small Brewery and Best Wheat Beer / Belgian (Packaged) for their Wild Ravens Golden Sour.
This year, their just-released collaboration with Brouhaha, the Barrel-Aged Imperial Milk Stout, was also named Best Stout / Porter (Packaged).
It was back-to-back success for Innate Brewers too. The Spearwood-based operation, which has commissioned a new, much larger brewhouse and moved into cans over the past 12 months, won a trophy for their black IPA Bulletproof in 2018.
Kelly Lavin, one of the eight founders of Innate, said: "It was unexpected. It's an absolute honour."
Meanwhile, Feral – no stranger to silverware over their decade and a half of brewing – were "practically hoovering up awards", according to chief judge Jayne Lewis of Two Birds Brewing. As well as collecting the Champion Large Brewery trophy, the brewery that's now part of Coca-Cola Amatil picked up Best Dark Ale (Draught) for their Smoked Porter, Best Reduced Alcohol (Draught) for the Runt pale ale, and Best Wheat Beer (Packaged) for Watermelon Warhead, currently available in limited run 750ml bottles from the Swan Valley brewpub.
Feral co-founder Brendan Varis described the achievement as "nothing short of amazing when you consider the world class beers being produced by Australian brewers today", adding: "These trophies and the seven gold, eight silver and four bronze medals we were awarded are a great acknowledgement of the effort and commitment to quality our brewers consistently apply to their craft."
"To have that kind of consistency and quality across such a wide range is incredible," Jayne said, also pointing out the level of consensus among judges.
“Around three-quarters of our judges scored 3 Ravens New World IPA as the overall champion beer," she said. "It is an excellent example of its style and huge kudos goes to their brewing team and head brewer Brendan O'Sullivan – a WA native – for their work."
Another brewery showing impressive consistency is Brewhouse Margaret River. The brewery retained their stranglehold on the Best Stout / Porter (Draught) trophy as Panther Cream made it two years in a row, with predecessor Peter Coupan having claimed the prize in 2017.
The competition, run each year by the Royal Agricultural Society of WA (RASWA) as part of the Perth Royal Food Awards programme saw nearly 700 entries across 77 separate classes tasted blind by judges from across the beer industry.
They also awarded trophies to Lion's Emu Export (Best Lager Packaged), Gage Roads Alby (Best Lager Draught) and V.H.A. (Best Pale Ale), Indian Ocean Oaklore (Best Dark Ale Packaged), and Artisan Brewing, whose Quad 17 made it two for two in the Best Wheat Beer / Belgian Draught category.
Artisan co-owner Julia Fitzgerald said: "We're so pleased that our Quad 17 validates our Vintage Ale strategy. It's two-years-old and it's still showing trophy-winning quality."
Outgoing Indian Ocean head brewer Jackson Purser, who created the Oaklore barleywine with The Dutch Trading Co and ex Temple and Homestead man Ron Feruglio – and whose award received arguably the biggest reception of the evening – was clearly taken aback by his trophy win.
He said: “It feels good. This is the first trophy I’ve ever got. It wasn’t just me. Ron is an epic brewer. I’m just stoked! It’s a great way to leave a on high.”
Commenting on their double trophy win, Gage Roads head brewer and COO Aaron Heary said: "It's a team effort. We brought all our staff along.
"We're 23 percent employee owned – it's a great business.
"For Alby to take Champion Lager in that category, it's a great thing for beer in WA. It's a WA-only lager beer and we're proud to do it for WA."
The awards also celebrate the state's homebrewers, with Chris de Chaneet and last year's double champion Benjamin Tearne each picking up trophies in the amateur categories – Chris for his Fumbling Festbier and Benjamin for his Banana Cream Soda."
RASWA president Paul Carter said: “There are few things more synonymous with Australia and being an Australian than our collective love of beer. It is something that we are internationally renowned for and forms part of our national identity on the world stage.
“Domestically, Australian beer and the pursuit of new and innovative ways of brewing is stronger than it has ever been. The calibre of entrants to this year’s awards has been outstanding in its quality and variety."
3 Ravens – New World IPA
CHAMPION LARGE BREWERY
Feral Brewing Company
CHAMPION SMALL BREWERY
BEST LAGER PACKAGED
Lion – Emu Export Lager
BEST LAGER DRAUGHT
Gage Roads – Alby Draught
BEST PALE ALE PACKAGED
3 Ravens – New World IPA
BEST PALE ALE DRAUGHT
Gage Roads – V.H.A
BEST DARK ALE PACKAGED
Indian Ocean – Oaklore
BEST DARK ALE DRAUGHT
Feral – Smoked Porter
BEST STOUT/PORTER PACKAGED
3 Ravens – Barrel Aged Imperial Milk Stout
BEST STOUT/PORTER DRAUGHT
Brewhouse Margaret River – Panther Cream
BEST WHEAT BEER/BELGIAN DRAUGHT
Artisan Brewing – Quad 17
BEST WHEAT BEER/BELGIAN PACKAGED
Feral – Watermelon Warhead
BEST REDUCED ALCOHOL DRAUGHT
Feral – Runt
BEST AMATEUR BEER OF SHOW
Chris de Chaneet – Fumbling Festbier
BEST AMATEUR BREWER
Benjamin Robert Zane Tearne
You can view the full list of medalists here. All photos by Jono Outred.