Talk about punching above your weight... In terms of litres produced, Dollar Bill are one of the tiniest brewing operations in Australia, yet have claimed a second Champion Australian Beer trophy at one of the world's biggest beer competitions just two years on from their first triumph.
Ed and Fiona Nolle (pictured above) claimed the prestigious trophy at the 2023 Australian International Beer Awards for Candy Paint for Candy Paint, an Australian wild ale with cherries, after winning with Gold Teeth, a wild ale re-fermented on peaches. It's a remarkable achievement, not least given the size of the awards, which this year received close to 3,000 entries from all over the world.
It was just one of the trophies they'll be taking back to Ballarat from the night; they also won Champion Gypsy Brewer for the second year running, while Candy Paint claimed Best Fruit Beer too. And it crowns a turbulent two years in which they've been through a long-running battle to get approval for their cellar door; they finally won approval late last year and have picked up Bright Brewery's old brew kit too so no longer need to have their wort brewed off-site and transported back to their barrels.
Onstage collecting their Champion Australian Beer trophy following another rapturous welcome to the stage, Ed was asked their secret by co-MC Kirrily Waldhorn.
"I guess my wife is the secret," he said, before adding: "Barrels. Time. Good base products, so thank you to Stomping Ground, because that's where most of our base product comes from, and Aunty Jacks. Thanks to everyone."
Wife Fiona, who'd already appeare on the verge of tears when collecting the Champion Gypsy trophy, added: "I just think that the passion that Ed has for it, that has well and truly rubbed off on me.
"The people in this room are the kindest people I've met. It's a privilege to share this with people. I never thought this path would be one I'd take.
"It's good that Ed is good at his job!"
Dollar Bill were just one of many breweries to head home with multiple gongs. It's pretty much a given that Moffat Beach Brewing from the Sunshine Coast will shine at every beer awards they enter, and this was no different: Best International Style Pale Ale for Shadow Of The Moon and Champion Small Australian Brewery – both trophies they won in 2022.
Deeds Brewing enjoyed a night for the ages too: they picked up Best Specialty Flavoured Beer for their BBA Peanut Butter Imperial Stout, Best Specialty Beer for Ruminations, plus Champion Victorian Brewery and Champion Medium Australian Brewery.
Marrickville-based Philter must be wondering how they didn't leave with a champion brewery gong too, with no less than three trips to the stage over the night. Philter Haze claimed Best Modern IPA while both their XPA and IIPA picked up Consistency of Excellence medals, awarded to beers that claim high golds year after year. Other medals there went to Coopers Original Pale Ale, O'Brien Brown Ale, Sydney Brewery Lager, and Hawkers Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine.
Completing the multiple winners were Mountain Goat, whose epic 25th birthday beer, Hightail XXV, won Best Wood and Barrel Aged Beer on the way to them picking up Champion Large Australian Brewery towards the night's end. And, if we were being cheeky, we could claim a double for The Crafty Pint too: our Brisbane-based writer Mick Wüst won Best Media, with the award collected by our senior writer and past winner Will Ziebell, and presented by our trophy co-sponsor and graphic designer Jessie Jungalwalla, of Craft Instinct, whose design for Golden Pipes' Auguste's Underground Hazy Pale Ale, one of Pinnacle Drinks' craft brands, won Best Label / Surface Graphic.
“Honestly, I get a fuzzy feeling whenever someone likes my goofy style of beer writing," Mick said after claiming his first Best Media trophy. "Between this award, a baby coming in July, and a book coming out in August, I’m feeling a lot of feelings!
“It’s an absolute honour to win. It makes the beer belly and the laptop hunch all worth it.”
Overall, it was an amazing night for local brewers. While entries were sent in from brewers in dozens of countries, 18 of the 21 individual beer categories were won by Australians. And they represented a wonderful cross-section of the local industry too.
Holgate Brewhouse – closing in on their quarter century – claimed Best Belgian / French Ale for their Sour Brett Ale, while one of their former brewers, Matt Ives, was among the team from Aunty Jacks in Ballarat taking to the stage for Best European Style Lager for their Mair St Märzen.
WA's industry was represented onstage once again by King Road Brewing, who went back to back with their Lager, and Margaret River with their Kölsch. From the East Coast, there were plenty of brewers who are no stranger to the AIBA's stage among the winners either. Hemingway's Prospector Pilsner claimed its second trophy in four years, Revel took home silverware this time for The Reveller (Best Reduced / Low Alcohol Beer), CoConspirators followed up last year's win for The Hop Peddler with Best Amber / Dark Lager for The Nightcrawler, as past champion brewery winners Hop Nation and Blackman's won for The Buzz Red IPA and Arthur Smoked Porter respectively.
Completing the picture for the Aussies were Reckless Brewing, with the Bathurst operation's XPA claiming Best Australian Style Pale Ale, Esker – which was formerly The Australian Brewery – with Best Modern Pale Ale for their Esker Hazy Pale, Seven Mile's much-loved West Coast IPA (Best Traditional IPA), and Boundary Island Brewery, the WA brewery awarded the Gary Sheppard Memorial Trophy for Best New Exhibitor.
Such home country success left the international contingent to pick up just Best Wheat Beer (NBeer Craft Brewing from China, with the Lindongjiangzhi Weizenbock also taking out Champion International Beer), Best Non-Alcohol Beer (Sam Adams, Boston), and Best International Lager (Kirin's Spring Valley Hojun 496).
When it came to the international brewery trophies, few would argue with more trophy success for Garage Project (Champion Large International Brewery), with Medium going to Behemoth (sold as Chur in Australia), and Small to Three Sisters Brewery, completing a clean sweep for New Zealand.