King Road Brewing have scooped another major trophy for their IPA, with the much-loved beer from the farm-based brewery 35 minutes of Perth claimed the WA Good Food Guide Beer Of The Year for 2022 last night.
The beer first caught the attention of the country's brewing industry when it took won Champion International-Style IPA at the 2021 Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA), but was already appreciated by those in the know in WA. It was the subject of much chatter when it debuted at the 2020 Froth Town festival, made our Best New WA Beers lineup for that year too, and now becomes the third IPA in the three years of this award to claim top spot.
Taking out the top spot was just part of the success for head brewer Steve Wearing and King Road owners Bev and Dave McKee with their Lager – a trophy-winner at this year's AIBAs in May – finishing third in the top 25 and, according to chief judge and Crafty Pint contributor Guy Southern, "within a whisker the number one spot".
King Road head brewer Steve Wearing told The Crafty Pint: "I’ve been trying to make this beer since I first started homebrewing, when I was drinking Hop Hog. I came across a beer with Strata in it and wanted that to be the hero.
"I’m so glad that the public love it. I just keep making it, and I want more people to experience it, but I want to keep it small scale and fresh. With this style of beer, fresh is everything."
He added: "I just want to give a big thank you to the WA brewing community and brewers. I’ve learned so much from them, and that’s why we’ve got so much great beer in WA – it’s the community."
The WA Beer Of The Year competition was introduced by the WA Good Food Guide team in 2020; this year, the judging panel for beer saw Guy leading a team made up of Pia Poynton, of Nowhereman Brewing, Ten Foot Tall and Pink Boots, Elliot Moore of Besk and Mane Liquor, Will Irving of FOUND., and Clare Clouting of Gage Roads.
Instead of judging beers to style guidelines, they assess entries on criteria such as innovation and drinkability. Brewers must also enter at least two core beers as part of their entry, with core beers claiming first place in the first three years of the competition. The first winner in 2020 was Cheeky Monkey's Hazy IPA, followed by Otherside's Anthem last year.
Completing the top five in 2022 were three beers that are no stranger to awards success. Margaret River's barrel-aged imperial stout Panther Cream was second, with Beerfarm's much-love IPL in fourth and Blasta's Unbridled Unicorn Double IPA fifth.
This year's awards saw the largest and most diverse pool of entries to date, culminating in last night's ceremony at Optus Stadium in Perth, where the state’s beers were celebrated alongside the wine, spirits, hospitality, and other primary producers.
To reach the final 25 – which is listed in full below – all entries were judged blind over two days, firstly in broad categories, then against the best of each.
Guy said: "It’s a diverse and comprehensive snapshot of excellence, and one which is more reflective of changing consumer tastes – this is WA beer now!
“There’re lagers, haze, sours, barrels, hops, and more. What’s more, in every corner of our state you’ll be able to find something locally brewed, thirst-slaking and with a story to tell.”
As for this year's top-ranked beer, he said: “King Road’s IPA featured in last year’s Top 25, and its ongoing refinement now sees it ably claiming this year’s top spot. It’s just a joy to drink.
“Judges noted its ‘vibrant aromatics’, ‘harmonious length’, 'balance and gregarious nature’, with one commenting, ‘It draws you back!'.”
He said that Panther Cream's ongoing success showed it was "one of Australia’s best barrel aged imperial stouts" adding, "the recent addition of Whipper Snapper Distillery barrels to this oaked program has only elevated this release – the judges were smitten with this."
“Elsewhere," he concluded, "the broad mix of core range and limited releases, plus span of styles, is a testament to just how good WA drinkers have it right now.”
You can read a Brew & A with the man behind King Road's beers here.
WA BEER OF THE YEAR 2022 – TOP 25
- King Road IPA
- Margaret River Brewhouse Panther Cream 2022
- King Road Lager
- Beerfarm IPL
- Blasta Unbridled Unicorn
- White Lakes Dark Lager
- Aetheon Brewing New World Pale Ale
- Nowhereman Berry Gose Round
- Otherside Redliner
- Rocky Ridge Session IPL
- Pirate Life Perth IIPA
- Otherside Harvest
- Heroes & Villains Identity
- Blasta Unleash The Beast
- Margaret River Brewhouse Stout
- Bright Tank & Baby Bléu Bleuphoria
- Eagle Bay Cacao Stout
- Rocky Ridge Green Man
- Bailey Brewing Co Draught
- Feral Tropical Disco Sour
- Phat Brew Club Terri’s Choc Orange
- South Fremantle Brewing Imperial Stout
- Rocky Ridge Space Donuts
- King Road Pale Ale
- Gage Roads Pipe Dreams
For the full list of WA Good Food Guide Awards winners across all categories, head here.