Longstanding WA craft beer favourite, Beerfarm's IPL, has been crowned the 2024 WA Good Food Guide Awards Beer of the Year. The team from Metricup in the Margaret River region picked up the trophy last night at an awards ceremony held portside in Fremantle’s E-Shed.
Upon receiving the award, Beerfarm’s head of quality and innovation Charlotte Freeston told The Crafty Pint: "We’re honoured to be surrounded by so many WA producers and hospitality venues that celebrate WA.
"IPL – what a beer! It’s everyone's favourite at the Beerfarm: an understated classic that's a consistent banger!"
Phat Brew Club, who only opened their brewpub at the start of 2023, took the runner-up spot with Culture Of Good Times Hazy IPA – one of three beers they landed in the top 20, with the podium rounded out by Rocky Ridge's most recent Rock Juice release, V12. That was one of four beers to appear in the list from the Jindong brewers – the most from any brewer – with their near neighbours at Eagle Bay the other brewery to score a hat-trick.
The Beer of the Year Awards are now in their fourth year, and form part of broader WA Good Food Guide Awards.
“Once again, the WA Good Food Guide Awards showcases the best of our state in all its multiplicities: its people, food, bars, venues, spirits, wine and, of course, West Australian beer," head judge Guy Southern said. "This is how WA socialises now.
“I love the fact that the Beer of the Year rubs shoulders with these shared endeavours, in turn developing and expanding the notion of beer beyond its industry. So often the beer industry talks to itself, which is important in terms of elevating quality, however, at last year’s awards, I loved seeing the winners King Road talking to small bars and venues that weren’t aware of them.
“This year’s pool of entries was as deep as it was wide, something reflected in the Top 25’s variety, its beers ranging from the familiar to the esoteric, the fleeting to the iconic.”
These awards take a slightly different approach to traditional beer competitions. While they still draw upon the knowledge and experience of experts, beers aren't merely judged strictly according to style guidelines – additional factors such as drinkability and relevance are considered.
As Guy explains, this is "partly bringing consumer experience into the judging conversation alongside questions of technical prowess."
For the 2024 judging, which took place in August, Guy was joined by a panel featuring food and beverage quality expert Clare Clouting of Athens Quality, longstanding WA beer authority Joel Beresford of The Dutch Trading Co, Beermuda Distribution and the soon-to-open Fallow, and Josh Daley, co-owner of Mane Liquor. The WA team was augmented by The Crafty Pint's senior writer Will Ziebell, who was impressed by the diversity of styles entered by local brewers.
“Having always enjoyed watching WA’s beer industry industry from afar, it was a pleasure to sample beers from breweries both new and well-established,” he says.
"Having only opened their brewpub at the start of the year, Phat Brew Club are definitely a brewery to watch closely at future awards. And seeing Beerfarm’s IPL revealed as the top beer was a moment of pure joy, given its sustained popularity in WA."
Guy added: "From its first pour during two days of blind judging, the winner was just radiant on every front. Each time we’d come back to pressure test it, there was nothing but head nodding and smiles, which speaks volumes about this modern WA icon."
As part of the awards night, Guy joined the 2023 winners King Road and the team from Gage Roads Fremantle to brew a beer combining elements of the Olbury brewers’ champion IPA and the awards host's sessionability. The draught-only Cross Roads Strata XPA collaboration debuted at the awards and will pour into summer at both venues.
Away from beer, although the wine awards remain part of the overall WA Good Food Guide program, this year they were separated to allow stronger region-specific focus. Led by UK-based wine communicator and judge Matthew Jukes, the results were announced in September.
Elsewhere, Illegal Tender claimed the top spirit title for their Distiller's Cut Rum, while The Corner Dairy in Doubleview, an avid supporter of local beer, took out Best Bar Dining.
Photo at top features the Beerfarm team with chief judge Guy Southern.
The Top 25 WA Beers of the Year 2024
25. Eagle Bay x Mane Liquor – Black & Tannin Barrel Aged Black IPA
24. Nowhereman – Mr Otter’s Barley Wine
23. Nail Brewing – VPA
22. Lucky Bay Brewing – Shipwreck Stout
21. Feral Brewing – Biggie Juice East Coast IPA
20. Otherside – Bohemian Pilsner
19. Eagle Bay – Hoops Project: Brett Saison
18. Phat Brew Club – Big Phat N Red’ Red IPA
17. Feral Brewing – Runt New World Pale Ale
16. Rocky Ridge – Ace IPA
15. The Seasonal Brewing Co – Juicy Pale
14. Eagle Bay – Wheatbelt Lager
13. Rocky Ridge x Range – It’s a Long Walk Home Hazy IPA
12. Little Creatures – Pale Ale
11. Phat Brew Club – Xtra Phat Ale
10. Cheeky Monkey – Hazy IPA
9. King Road – Pale Ale
8. Rocky Ridge – Rock Candy Fruit Sour
7. Funk Cider – Passionfruit Session Ale
6. Beerfarm x Old Bridge Cellars – Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Pastry Stout
5. Finlay’s Brewing Co – Coral Coast Mid
4. Gage Roads – Alby Draught
3. Rocky Ridge – Rock Juice V12 Triple IPA
2. Phat Brew Club – Culture of Good Times Hazy IPA
1. Beerfarm – IPL
You can view the top 25 on the WA Good Food Guide Awards website here. NB Guy Southern is also a contributor to The Crafty Pint.