The 2019 World Beer Awards have seen two very different Australian brewing companies take out accolades. Sydney’s Redoak added to the substantial bounty they’ve enjoyed over the past 15 years, with the brewery’s Chateau Sour topping the Flanders Red Ale category when results were announced in London.
The other award went to a beer brewed for Coles' Liquorland stores by Brick Lane. Tinnies Pale Ale – one of three beers in the major retailer's Tinnies range – was declared World's Best Pale Bitter 4.5 to 5.5 percent ABV. The beers were among more than 3,500 beers from across the world entered in the awards.
Given its genesis and ownership, Tinnies Pale Ale is unlikely to have been on the radar for many in the craft beer world. But, according to Paul Bowker, Brick Lane director and co-founder, such beers can help introduce more drinkers to a wider range of styles.
“There are preconceived notions around independence, non-independent, major producers, smaller producers but when it comes down to it our focus is on brewing the best beer possible,” he says.
“The beauty of being judged in these awards is that they are judged blind – they’re being judged on the basis of what’s in the judges' glass, without any preconceived ideas.”
Brick Lane are part of the Independent Brewers Association (IBA) and, while Paul says there are "really strong advantages to that for us", he adds: “Some of the partners we work with might not fit the classic definition of independent but we can still make fantastic beers that can get a lot of people into craft and other styles of beers … and we believe that by partnering with those organisations we can improve the industry as a whole.”
He says the award means a lot to the brewery team and believes any success in international beer competitions shows the quality of the beer being made in Australia.
“It’s validation for our brewers and the incredible beers that they’re producing at the brewery,” Paul says. “But just as importantly for the partners that we brew for, it’s fantastic that we can deliver these results for them.”
When Brick Lane opened in August last year, they announced their Dandenong brewery – one of the largest and most high-tech to have opened in Australia in recent years – would also be brewing for others. When it comes to the Tinnies lineup, he says Coles was eager to let Brick Lane develop the beers, which became the Pale Ale plus an XPA and Session IPA, and follows other craft-style beers in the retailer's portfolio, including Lorry Boys and Steamrail.
“Our model is all built around flexibility, so we’ll work with people to make sure they get the best results,” Paul says. “In the case with Coles, they came to us and really wanted to produce a really high quality, genuine, craft-credentialed beer.
“To be honest, there wasn’t a huge amount of pressure on the cost or the source of the ingredients. Coles put a lot of trust into us to make sure we could deliver the right product.”
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Coles said Tinnies was "born out of a desire to create a straight-talking craft beer."
They added: "International industry recognition like this win at the World Beer Awards is a fantastic achievement for any Australian brand. We are very proud to have received this accolade, particularly less than a year after the Tinnies brand was launched to market.
"To have this recognition as the world’s best beer in its class is further evidence that we’re getting it right by working with the best brewers to bring fantastic new products to our customers."
You can check out our updated infographic on the ownership of various beer brands in Australia here.