Western Australia's Blasta Brewing added to their considerable stack of championship trophies at the 2021 Indies, with the brewery's wheat beer, Blastaweizen, named Champion Independent Beer at the live-steamed independent beer awards ceremony.
The Champion Brewery titles went to Stomping Ground (Large), Moffat Beach (Small / Medium) and Future Mountain (Brewpub) on a night when Cryer Malt founder David Cryer was recognised with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Blasta were also declared WA's champion brewery for the second year running and, on receiving the top gong, brewery founder Steve Russell (pictured above at the Perth Indies party) was quick to point to his team on winning the major award.
“It’s not just me," Steve said. "It’s every single one of these people here; that’s what makes who we are. It’s all of us."
Steve said the beer itself was conceived while enjoying hefeweizens in the beer gardens of Germany, and while such beers have proven a hard sell in Australia, Blasta's is often among the top three fastest-selling beers in the taproom.
It's been an impressive 2021 for the Perth brewery founded just four years ago. Soon afterwards, they claimed Champion IPA at the Perth Royal Beer Awards, with more trophies and medals having followed since. At the Perth Royal Beer Awards in June, Blasta won the Best Large Brewery spot and were awarded the Champion Beer trophy for their double IPA Unbridled Unicorn. Currently, they have a major expansion underway after securing a $1 million grant from the Federal Government.
Arguably the stars of the night, however, were Sunshine's Coast's Moffat Beach Brewing, who added an impressive four trophies to their past tally. They claimed Champion Queensland Brewery and Champion Small/Medium Brewery while also winning Champion Session Ale for Moffs Summer Ale and Champion IPA for their Trilogy IPA.
Matt Wilson, who started the brewery with his partner Shaz, encouraged other brewers to enter awards as a way to improve their own brewing.
"I’m starting to get embarrassed now," Matt said, after one of their returns to the stage. "The one thing I’d like to say is I started brewing at home by myself. I've largely used competitions as a way to educate myself and it's from getting awesome feedback from the judges who are impartial and really critical at times.”
In the past few years alone, Moffat Beach were named Champion Brewpub at the Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show Beer Awards while winning further trophies for Moffs Summer Ale and Passenger Pale Ale. Those accolades follow Champion Brewpub and Champion Session Beer for Moffs Summer Ale at The Indies last year, Champion Small Brewery and Session Beer in 2018 and Grand Champion Beer, Champion Brewpub and Champion India Pale Ale at the Queensland awards in 2020.
In total, 1389 beers from 180 breweries were judged for this year's awards, with three-quarters of of entries receiving a medal and 13 champion and best in class trophies awarded on the night. Once again, Queensland's beer industry was in fine form, with the state picking up five out of those 13 trophies, as Victoria's brewers took home 30 percent of all medals.
Two very different Victorian breweries enjoyed success too, with Stomping Ground securing Champion Large Brewery and Champion Hybrid Beer for their Hanging Rauch, while Future Mountain Brewing & Blending took out the Champion Brewpub spot.
Justin Joiner, who helped bring Stomping Ground to life with Steve Jeffares and Guy Greenstone, used their Champion Large Brewery win to highlight the work of the Beer Agents For Change, who are working to create a more inclusive industry..
"I’d like to give a bit of a shout out to the incredible women that are the Beer Agents For Change," he said. "We want to thank you for starting a conversation that we all need to have; we stand beside you, we 100 percent support you.
"We want to continue this conversation and we want to do everything that we can to contribute to making this industry amazing, and we want a situation where everybody that works in this industry comes to work and feels heard and accepted and respected and safe."
At a time when the Agents are hoping to add allies to their cause, it was a powerful moment.
Steve and Guy were also applauded for their long association with the independent beer industry as they were honoured with the Service To Industry award. It was one of five peer-nominated awards, with Cryer Malt founder David Cryer's long-term support for the indie beer industry recognised in the Lifetime Achievement Award and Cryer marketing and sales support manager Stephanie Howard named Young Gun of the Year.
Grain & Grape Yarraville, the Melbourne homebrew shop that's helped countless brewers get started in the industry, was named True Indie Supporter, while Nowhereman's Hospofam received the Community Initiative Of The Year for the second year running.
The Indie's 2021 Trophy Winners
Champion Independent Beer
Blasta Brewing – Blastaweizen
Champion Large Brewery
Stomping Ground Brewing
Champion Medium/Small Brewery
Moffat Beach Brewing
Future Mountain Brewing & Blending
Champion Pale Ale
Sea Legs Brewing Pale Ale
Champion Amber/Dark Ale
Revel Brewing Neo-Mexicanus Black IPA
Champion Hybrid Beer
Stomping Ground Brewing - Hanging Rauch
Moffat Beach Beach Brewing - Trilogy IPA
Champion European-style Ale
Blasta Brewing - Blastaweizen
Champion Session Beer
Moffat Beach - Moffs Summer Ale
Champion Strong Beer
Vale Brewing - Bearded Mongrel
Champion Mixed Culture Beer
Philter Brewing - Raspberry Pash
Champion Victorian Brewery
Stomping Ground Brewing
Champion Tasmanian Brewer
Champion Queensland Brewery
Moffat Beach Brewing
Champion South Australian Brewery
Champion New South Wales Brewery
Champion ACT/Northern Territory Brewery
Champion Western Australian Brewery
PEER NOMINATED AWARDS
Service to the Industry
Steve Jeffares & Guy Greenstone (Stomping Ground Brewing Co)
Young Gun of the Year
Stephanie Howard (Cryer Malt)
True Indie Supporter
Grain & Grape Yarraville
Lifetime Achievement Award
David Cryer (Cryer Malt)