There was success overnight for Cheeky Monkey Brewery, but it was far from an overnight success.
Their Hazy IPA was named WA Beer Of The Year at the Good Food Guide Awards in Perth – the first time beer has been featured in the competition since it launched in 2011. The East Coast IPA style beer has only been part of their core range for a few weeks, but it's the result of a process stretching back 18 months and taking in many beers, including the well-received Surf Break series.
The beer was one of two to make the top five from Cheeky Monkey, who operate two breweries in the state's South West. Their Salty Peaches fruited gose landed at five behind Eagle Bay's impeccably structured IPL, Beerfarm's hazy IPA Royal Haze, and cult classic Clout Stout (the 2017 vintage) from Nail Brewing. Wine of the Year went to the 2019 Isolation Ridge Riesling from Frankland Estate (pictured below).
Lead judge Guy Southern (pictured above right with the victorious Cheeky Monkey team) said: "The WA Good Food Guide Beer of the Year 2020 winner was unanimously chosen by the panel, and was the first beer we shared after judging.
"The Cheeky Monkey team have been working on Hazy for the past 18 months, and it shows. There’s an exquisite balance of technique, drinkability, modernity and fun which made Hazy a very deserving winner, from an exceptional field."
The format of the awards was more akin to last year's Drink Easy (whose co-founder Mike Bennie was the director of drinks in Perth) than more traditional beer competitions. Instead of awarding trophies by style, the panel, which included Pia Poynton of Nowhereman, Elliot Moore of Mane Liquor and besk, and former Feral innovation brewer Will Irving, selected a top 25 based on criteria such as innovation and drinkability. Brewers also had to include at least two core range beers in their submission.
The inclusion of beer in the awards was in part in recognition of WA as the birthplace of modern Australian craft beer, but also to acknowledge the giant strides the state's brewing industry continues to make.
“The Beer of the Year award recognises not only the depth of the WA beer industry, but also its high standard," Guy says.
“The judging panel and I are incredibly proud of the Top 25. It’s a diverse list which beautifully encompasses our thriving WA beer scene, from larger operations to neighbourhood brewpubs. And, there’s something for every drinker, from sessionable beers, to complex beasts, refreshing sours and lesser known takes on lager."
Hazy IPAs are very much the style du jour, with those attracting the most hype among the noisier realms of the craft beer community tending to be those from brewers taking a one and done approach: dropping a single batch of a beer before moving onto a new hop combination and a new name. In such a quick fix culture, Cheeky's success stands as a reminder that sometimes patience pays off.
The Top 25 WA Beers of the Year 2020
- Cheeky Monkey Brewing Co – Hazy (East Coast IPA)
- Eagle Bay Brewing Co. – IPL (India Pale Lager)
- Beerfarm – Royal Haze (Hazy IPA)
- Nail Brewing – Clout Stout 2017 (Imperial Stout)
- Cheeky Monkey Brewing Co. - Salty Peaches (Fruited Gose)
- Otherside Brewing Co. – Lo-Fi Citrus (Mid ale)
- Gage Roads Brewing Co. – Pipe Dreams (Lager)
- Boston Brewing Co. – Afterglose (Fruited Gose)
- Eagle Bay Brewing Co. – Cocoa Stout
- Boston Brewing Co. – Howlin’ (XPA)
- Bright Tank Brewing Co. – Chalkface Killah (NEIPA)
- Bevy Brewing Co. – First Lager (Bock / Vienna Lager)
- Nail Brewing – NBT #9 (Pale ale)
- Gage Roads Brewing Co. – Single Fin (Summer ale)
- Beerfarm – IPL (India Pale Lager)
- Beerfarm – Pale Ale
- Rocky Ridge Brewing Co. – Ace (Pale ale)
- Rocky Ridge Brewing Co. x Devine Cellars x Goodtimes Craft Beer – Devine Goodtimes 2019 (Chardonnay barrel-aged Brett Saison)
- Seasonal Brewing Co. – Grapefruit and Rosemary Gose
- Eagle Bay Brewing Co. – Pale Ale
- Nail Brewing – VPA (Pale ale)
- White Lakes Brewing Co. – Summer Ale
- Nail Brewing – Red (Red ale)
- Boston Brewing Co. – Cherry Porter (Fruited Dark Sour)
- Otherside Brewing Co. – Headliner 2020 (Double IPA)
Guy Southern is a regular contributor to The Crafty Pint. Photos by John Koh.