Dainton Brewery made it two Champion Beer trophies in just three years at The Indies, taking out the top beer title as Australia's independent beer industry gathered in Melbourne for their annual awards night. The trophy went to D3, the triple dry-hopped version of Dainton's debut beer, Red Eye Rye, brewed for the third birthday of their Carrum Downs brewery, a beer we said was like a "lively young barleywine".
There were other repeat winners on the night too, as Fixation took out Champion Large Brewery two years after claiming Champion Medium Brewery at the Adelaide Oval when the competition was known as the Craft Beer Awards. Meanwhile, Modus Operandi's Former Tenant Red IPA was back for more silverware; the beer helped announce the Mona Vale brewery to the world when it was named Champion Beer at the inaugural Craft Beer Awards in 2014, just months after they launched.
Fixation co-owner Tom Delmont, whose brewing company has also won a major trophy at the Australian International Beer Awards since the Craft Beer Awards win, said: "I love this industry. We just try to make the best beer we can."
Champion Small/Medium Brewery went to 3 Ravens, just weeks after they won Champion Beer at the Perth Royal Beer Awards, while one of several new trophies, for Champion Brewpub, went to Sydney's All Hands Brewing House.
Reacting to 3 Ravens' win, brewer Murray Robinson, who had been hunting high and low for a ticket to the awards throughout BrewCon (and ended up with one of The Crafty Pint's), said: "It's been a wild ride.
"Being in this industry is a greater dream than I ever could have had as a 17-year-old dickhead homebrewing."
For All Hands Brewing House, it is deserved reward for the team led by Sam Clayman, who we featured on the site earlier in the year. He's quietly been knocking out fine beers on the water's edge in Darling Harbour for years, initially at the King St Brewhouse before it was upgraded and renamed.
Other new awards were handed out too. The Service To Industry Award went to brewer, judge and educator Neal Cameron. Young Gun Of The Year was awarded to quality guru Dan McCulloch of Lallemand Brewing. True Indie Supporter went to Grain Store co-owner Corey Crook, with Community Initiative Of The Year awarded to Stone & Wood's Ingrained Initiative.
Collecting his award, Dan, who we featured in our recent Big Issue feature on beer quality, said: "I'm so humbled, this is so fucking fantastic."
Meanwhile, Corey (pictured above), who has driven the craft beer scene in Newcastle for a decade now and always been a vocal supporter of independent Australian breweries, also said he was humbled by the trophy, adding: "We do what we do because we love incredible beer and our thing is good people drink good beer, and this whole room is a testament to that."
As for running a good beer venue, he had some simple advice: "Don't be a dickhead about it and just sell good beer."
More than a thousand entries were judged by a panel of national and international beer professionals ahead of the awards night, one on which there were also two marriage proposals, one of them by Dan Dainton as he collected a trophy.
The remainder of the beer trophies were awarded as follows:
- Champion Pale Ale – Mismatch Brewing Pale
- Champion Amber/Dark Ale – Nail Red
- Champion Porter/Stout – Stomping Ground Bunker Porter
- Champion Hybrid Beer – Hunter Beer Co Slaked Magpie
- Champion Lager – Sydney Brewery Surry Hills Pils
- Champion IPA – Modus Operandi Former Tenant
- Champion European Style Ale – Bright Brewery Razor Witbier
- Champion Session Beer – Sauce Brewing Piss Weak Sauce
- Champion Strong Beer – Dainton D3
- Champion Mixed Culture Beer – Dollar Bill Learning To Breathe
For Mismatch, the trophy follows last year's Champion Beer award for their Lager, while Nail Red has been a serial gold medal and trophy-winner at competitions across the country for years. Hunter Beer Co, a small brewpub operation in the Hunter Valley, are also regulars onstage when it comes to nights such as this, with Sydney Brewery's Surry Hills Pils following up its trophy at the 2019 Australian International Beer Awards.
Stomping Ground will have an extra spring in their step as they launch their new Into The 'Wood series of beers this weekend, while the win for Bright Brewery comes on the back of a series of interesting and promising releases from new head brewer Reid Stratton, formerly of New England Brewing Co, who we'll be featuring in a Brew & A soon as they launch a new project from their High Country home.
Completing the beer trophies were Piss Weak Sauce, which came first in our mid-strength blind tasting, and Dollar Bill's Learning To Breathe, an impressive result given it's their very first core range beer and was only released last month.
Dollar Bill brewer and co-owner Ed Nolle told The Crafty Pint: "The independent brewing industry is such a community and this celebration builds up the industry and builds goodwill. For us, it's recognition of a lot of [my wife] Fiona's hard work. Fiona always says for me to release a beer is like getting blood out of stone."
Trophies were also awarded for the Champion State / Territory Breweries; they went to:
- NSW – All Hands Brewing House
- QLD – Balter
- VIC – 3 Ravens
- WA – Gage Roads
- ACT/NT – BentSpoke
- SA – Mismatch
- TAS – Van Dieman
You can view the results on the IBA Indies Results page here. And you can join Fixation's Tom Delmont when he co-hosts a chat with British beer writer Pete Brown at The Incubator on Sunday alongside The Crafty Pint's founder, James Smith.
Reporting and photos from the event by Will Ziebell and Marie Claire Jarratt.