The South East Queensland beer and cider community gathered for the third annual Beeries in Brisbane on Thursday night, with awards handed out to some of the industry's most familiar faces on an evening filled with riotous glamour, good vibes and the occasional man in a sequined dress.
Early on, there was something of a full stop added to last year's event as Best Beer Tender was awarded to Ali Cat of Black Hops. She had been nominated in 2018 but, following the furore surrounding the naming of one of the brewery's beers shortly before the awards, the Gold Coast brewery decided to withdraw all of their nominees from consideration.
After high-fiving pretty much the entire room on her way to the stage, Ali took up a theme that was to become familiar over the course of the evening: praise for what is the most fun and inviting beer community in the country.
"Everyone in this room deserves a trophy," she said, declaring the award a "fucking honour" and adding: "Whatever role you do, you do amazing things."
The final trophy of the night, the Gold Beery for Best Community Contributor, was awarded to Stone & Wood for their inGrained Foundation. The not-for-profit grew from their inGrained community program and sees the brewery commit to donating $1 per 100 litres of beer brewed to the Foundation to support grassroots and environmental charities and community projects.
To date, it has donated more than $800,000 to a variety of causes and was also named Community Initiative of the Year at The Indies in Melbourne earlier this month. Stone & Wood's Yunling Chow (pictured at top of article collecting the Gold Beery with Lou Klatte) was named Best Brewery/ Cidery Rep too.
More than 3,600 votes were received from the public for this year's awards, with 330 people – including brewers from interstate – attending the ceremony at the Royal International Convention Centre in
Balter added to their trophy haul with Scotty Hargrave named Best Brewer / Cider Maker, while two of the founders of Brewsvegas, Gillian Letham (The Woods Bar, Oxford Tap House and formerly The Mill) and Ben Nichols (Scratch Bar and Netherworld) shared the Special Achievement Award.
Ben was keen to thank the "bunch of really strange, insane people" that volunteer year in, year out to support the not-for-profit beer week.
"The one thing that I would like to really, really iterate and the one thing I'm really proud of is that Brisbane is fucking great," he said, to one of the biggest cheers of the many on the night. "Brisbane is doing this really weird, strange thing where we're setting ourselves up to be our own thing and we're really proud of it.
"And one of the things that we're really proud of with Brewsvegas is that we've been able to contribute to whatever that strange, weirdness is that is the unique thing that is Brisbane beer."
Also among the winners were Dave O'Shannessy, Brendan Stanley and Jeremy Which, who will be taking the Best Beer and Cider Retailer awards back to the Black Sheep Bottle Shop, Felons (pictured above), who claimed Best New Venue for their riverside home under Story Bridge, Your Mates, whose impressive Sunshine Coast venue took out Best New Brewery, and Brewski, winners of Best Beer List, with co-owner Antoinette Pollock keen to credit husband Matt Emmerson's obsession for filling their taps with "stupid beers" from all over the world and recent signing Les Riddell issuing a call to arms: "Drink the stupid beers."
Dean Romeo (pictured above collecting Felons' trophy) gave the sweariest of many sweary acceptance speeches, even declaring: "I'm saying fuck a lot. So I apologise. It helps even out the nerves."
Having taken to the stage with ten other staff, he described the award as "an incredible achievement", adding that they "were really proud to be on that journey" with the rest of the local beer industry.
Beeries committee member and Beer InCider founder Marty Keetels said: “Votes for this year’s nominees were up a massive 30 percent on 2018 while ticket sales for the night sold
out in record time.
“It was fantastic to see so many people come out to support and celebrate our good beer and cider communities.”
All proceeds from the night were donated to not-for-profit Brewsvegas, the annual celebration of Brisbane’s beer scene that is held across the city each March.
For more information on The Beeries please visit www.thebeeries.com.