Following last year's Indies, the beer awards competition run by the Independent Brewers Association, a number of state champion trophies were found to have been incorrectly awarded due to administrative errors post-judging. This led to an independent audit which saw a number of trophies dating back to the 2019 awards change hands.
The IBA announced it would be conducting a full review of the awards process as a result, a review that has now concluded. In a statement released today, the association representing the country's independent brewing industry announced a suite of changes – as well as confirming plans to realign the Indies with BrewCon from 2023, with both set to take place on the Gold Coast in August next year.
Taking a revised purposes for the Indies – "To celebrate and reward the quality and innovation of the Australian independent brewing industry" – as a foundation for the review and subsequent changes, the IBA has unveiled the following changes to the awards:
- Implementation of a new competition tech management system
- An integrated judges training and mentoring program
- A revised trophy and class schedule welcoming new categories: Juicy-Hazy and NoLo, and the renaming of Hybrid and Mixed Culture to more consumer-friendly Speciality and Fruit & Funk
- Merging of the competition's smallest categories: Amber-Dark Ale with PorterStout to what will now be Amber-Dark Beer
- The creation of a new Advisory Committee
- The adoption of a new scoring methodology for determining Champion Size and State trophy winners. This new method will measure a brewery's overall performance in the competition and not just their top beers.
IBA chair Richard Adamson told The Crafty Pint he’s really happy with just how comprehensive the review process was, with it being a rare opportunity to make changes to the awards.
“There was a massive amount of discussion and debate among the [IBA Board] about implementations and future directions,” Richard says.
Richard says the new scoring methodology – which looks at overall brewery performance in the competition rather than their top four medals or trophies – is a more comprehensive way to award Champion trophies.
“We found it gave the most regularity and was probably a better reflection of the performance of the brewery rather than putting the top four in,” Richard says.
“When we looked at the different outcomes, this was a much better reflection of the performance of a champion brewery.”
Richard adds the new changes also sees all gold medals in a category compete directly for a trophy, rather than the individual scores for each gold being considered.
“So [the gold medals] will go into a taste off essentially, regardless of the scores or how shiny the gold was, and the champion will be chosen from that.”
Richard says the changes also see them raise the bar in terms of the professionalism of the awards by making sure judges are away of their capabilities and ability to detect certain off-flavours such as diacetyl or sulphur.
“Not everyone is as sensitive to different things as others,” he says. “You just need to be aware of your limitations and declare it.”
On the changes in categories, Richard says it’s essential for the awards to look at the craft beer market and continually tweak their categories, with the introduction of the NoLo and Juicy-Hazy class reflecting what people are drinking.
“It needs to be reassessed all the time and be dynamic because the marketplace changes so dramatically.”
The 2022 Indies awards night will follow the same format as 2020 and 2021, combining a live stream from a studio with state parties held across the country. But from 2023, it will return to the pre-pandemic setup.
In a media statement, IBA CEO Kylie Lethbridge said: “Alongside the review we are also excited to announce that BrewCon and the Indies will finally reunite next year in Queensland so mark your calendars as 22-23 August 2023 will see the indie beer community descend on the Gold Coast Convention Centre, for the first time since 2019.
"Although we won’t be coming together for the Indies this year, the team feel that we have the state party thing down pat now so will be rolling with that format again in 2022 while at the same time being super excited to start the planning for 2023. We can not wait to finally unite, celebrate and recover from what has been one of the most challenging times in history."
Key dates for the 2022 Indies Awards
- Entries open – July 18, 2022. Further information and updated guidelines will be released shortly.
- Expressions of interest for the new Indies Awards Advisory Committee are open June 24, 2022 – see iba.org.aufor role description and application form.
This article was updated at 1:00pm on 09/06/22 to include further information on the changes from Richard Adamson.