The Year in Beer 2013: Victoria and Western Australia

January 3, 2014, by Crafty Pint
The Year in Beer 2013: Victoria and Western Australia

For our final look back at the year that was we posed questions to some faces old and new in the country’s two craft beer big hitters, Victoria and WA (although NSW is coming up fast on the rails…).

Among those reflecting on another huge year are the folks at Mornington Peninsula Brewery (who collected their first AIBA trophy), The Alehouse Project (named Time Out Melbourne’s Pub of the Year), Colonial Brewing in Margaret River, the increasingly crafty Cellarbrations at Willagee and our lady in WA, Pia Poynton.


Andrew “AG” Gow, head brewer at Mornington Peninsula Brewery

What’s been your highlight of 2013?
Receiving a personalised tour through Richard Watkins' barrel-aged beers at Wig & Pen.

Winning Best Stout at the 2013 AIBA awards.

Being nominated for three other awards: Best Dark/Amber (Brown Ale); Best Aussie Beer (Imperial Stout); Best Small Aussie brewery.

500th brew in little more than three years. (AG is pictured above with brew #1)

What has surprised you?
The Sydney brewing scene finally taking off. When I was brewing at 5 Islands (Illawarra) the brewing landscape was lagging a long way behind Vic & WA. It’s great to see quality breweries being established as opposed to egotistical Sydney marketing wankers who don’t know the first thing about beer slapping their label on a contract brewed golden ale.

The strength of my new brewer Nardia….stronger than a couple of the fellas here at MPB!

What has delighted you?
The progression of Mornington. You kind of figure things will slow down but they just don’t. We will receive our very own canning line within two months and that puts a grin on my dial.

Success and consolidation (I assume) of a brewery such as Moon Dog who are trying to push boundaries and seem to have found a good level of consistency.

Boatrocker endeavouring to be a genuine point of difference.

The irrelevance of Thunder Road.

What would you most like to see in 2014?
Richard Watkins' very own venture at BentSpoke.

Breweries getting more adventurous. Too many breweries have safe and ultra conservative brewing philosophies. Just because Stone & Wood Pacific Ale has been a major hit shouldn’t lead other breweries to brew inferior replicas.

Your beer (or beers) of the year
Feral Barrique O'Karma
Bacchus White Choc Pilsner
Deschutes ‘Hop in the Dark’
8 Wired ‘Super Conductor’
Lagunitas ‘Hop Stoopid’

Alex Summers, owner of The Alehouse Project

What’s been your highlight of 2013?
The overwhelming response from both the Australian craft breweries and the beer loving public to our first all Australian dedicated Hop Festival. The quality and variety of IPAs produced was an outstanding example of the high quality Australian product.

What has surprised you?
The explosion of new Australian craft breweries throughout the year all producing high calibre beers across a great variety of styles.

What has delighted you?
The refocus in the industry back towards Australian craft breweries in the later half of the year after an early year surge from imported breweries hitting the local market for the first time.

What would you most like to see in 2014?
The continual development and expansion of Australian craft beer industry, the more new breweries the better!

Your beer (or beers) of the year
There were two stand outs for the year, both one-off beers in 7 Cent Brewery ‘Get to the Hoppa’ Imperial IPA and Temple Brewing Company ‘After Midnight’ Double Black IPA.


Justin Fox, head brewer at CBCo Margaret River



What’s been your highlight of 2013?
My highlight of 2013 was the birth of my daughter Romy!

But on a beery note, it was being a part of Fight Club at The Quarie during WA Beer Week. When you’re asked to participate in an event run by beertender and venue manager of the year, you know you are in for a good one. It was a great night of brewers going head to head in style battles; good banter; a hilarious smackdown moment between a jockey and a giant (you had to be there); all amongst awesome beers and food – what more could you ask for!

What has surprised you?
The pace at which the craft beer industry is growing. I have always thought we were 10 years behind the States, but I took a two year stint in commercial brewing and now coming back to craft, it feels that in a couple of years we could be seeing everything and more that is happening in the US and Europe.

There are passionate people everywhere in the industry, brewing, selling, pouring, drinking and talking about craft beer. Their knowledge is astounding and the depth of their influence is reaching more of the population every day.

What has delighted you?
Seeing West Australian Beer Week move to coincide with the Perth Royal Beer Show and step it up a level and put on a solid line up of events. This year saw a really successful inaugural Fremantle Beer Festival, and the rest of the week had enough events that you simply couldn’t do everything. We have a great group of brewers in WA and have always had fun together whilst doing what we love: brewing, and this year it was great that the punters also got to experience this. The efforts of the WABA executives meant that the week was a huge success that no doubt will grow even more next year.

What would you most like to see in 2014?
2014 might be a tad ambitious but I would like to eventually see the national competition of the AIBA move to a different city each year to give the beer lovers and brewers of Australia the opportunity to experience everything crafty the country has to offer.

On a beer front, I think there are two things I want to see in some sort of balanced juxtaposition. I’d like to see the boundaries continue to be pushed to new and crazy styles of beer which no doubt will occur at GABS 2014 with 120 participants confirmed this week. At the same time, approachable craft beer has a big place in our industry and we can all benefit from occasionally putting the hop, malt and alcohol wars aside and helping to convert the other 80 per cent of beer drinkers to the flavoursome side of life!

Your beer (or beers) of the year?
I will settle on a top three in no particular order… The Moo Brew Velvet Sledgehammer, Mountain Goat’s IPA, Nail’s Imperial Brown…

Doug Gowers, from Cellarbrations at Willagee

What’s been your highlight of 2013?
Highlight of our 2013 in the shop was the ever growing number of customers wanting more knowledge about craft beer. Whether it would be in the form of tasting notes or actual tastings with which we started the Willagee Beer Appreciation Club. With the customers learning more we also had to learn more which has been good as you never stop learning in this industry.

What has surprised you?
One thing that has been stand out surprising is that customers do not stop on one style or brand of craft beer, there is a big thirst for more new and exciting brews that come out all the time. This in turn furthers the education of the customer and staff, which also leads to fresh stock being in the fridge all the time as it cycles through the different stages. There have been a few brews which have made a permanent home in the fridge.

What has delighted you?
The main thing we are delighted about is the fact we are starting to be recognised as a craft beer destination. With us offering Growler refills and sales, there’s a constant changing of craft beer depending on season and availability. The craft beer sector in the shop is ever increasing whether it would be an Australian or overseas craft brewery that is being sold.

What would you most like to see in 2014?
We would most like to see in 2014 the further education of staff and customers in the ways of craft styles and tastes, particularly the more experimental side of things. We would also like to move forward and keep supporting our local WA breweries as well as supporting more Australian craft brewers.

Your beer (or beers) of the year
For an outstanding beer we could not come up with a definitive winner, but here are a few that made the list: Eagle Bay Single Batch IPA, Golden Nail, Nail Imperial Dunn Brown, Mountain Goat Cross Breed, just to name a few. I know not everyone agrees with what we have picked but everyone has their own tastes.

Pia Poynton, creator of girl+beer

Among those joining Pia for a first Good Beer Week were these brewers from Brazil


What’s been your highlight of 2013?
Going to my very first Melbourne Good Beer Week.

What has surprised you?
Lots, but they are all good surprises, like meeting people who read my blog, coming across genuinely intriguing beers and so many beer and food matches throughout the year at different events.

What has delighted you?
GABS and Good Beer Week blew me away in their creativity, organisation and passion.

What would you most like to see in 2014?
More creative and enticing beer events for the beer curious to discover their inner beer geek. Also more pubs and bars paying attention to what their beer list says about them.

Your beer (or beers) of the year
Nail Clout Stout and Moon Dog/Nogne O Selvmordstokt spring to mind. From further afield I adored Amager The Sinner Series Pride.

You can pick up a copy of the latest James Halliday’s Wine Companion Magazine for The Crafty Pint founder’s look back on 2013 and pick of 50 of the year’s best beers. Out now!

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