Lion and Stone & Wood both took medals in the World Beer Cup on Friday night in a lean year overall in terms of honours for Australian breweries.
The biennial awards were presented at the conclusion of the Craft Brewers Conference 2016 in Philadelphia, USA.
Lion’s James Squire The Swindler Summer Ale won Gold in the English-Style Summer Ale category, with Stone & Wood Pacific Ale taking Silver in the same class.
Accepting the award for James Squire was Malt Shovel brewmaster Chuck Hahn, who told Australian Brews News it was a fitting accolade given the Squire brand’s English colonial theming.
The Swindler was only launched late in 2015 and Hahn said it has already outgrown James Squire HQ, the Malt Shovel Brewery in Sydney.
“We brewed it at Malt Shovel initially but this particular one has actually been brewed at West End Brewery in Adelaide, because it’s such a huge volume beer already – it’s jumped right up there,” he said.
The World Beer Cup style guidelines say of the English-style Summer Ale category: “The overall impression is refreshing and thirst quenching.”
Hahn likens the style to a cross between a lager and an ale. “It has the richness of an ale but the refreshment of a lager,” he said.
Stone & Wood head brewer Caolan Vaughan and co-founder Brad Rogers collected the gong for their Pacific Ale.
“Pacific Ale very nicely fits into the English Summer Ale style, that’s the category we always enter it in,” Rogers told Australian Brews News.
“This style is all about the lifted hop character. It’s really aromatic and tropical fruit driven – that’s what the style is all about.
“Pacific Ale is light, it’s delicate, it’s all about the hop – and the hop we use in there is the Galaxy hop from Hop Products Australia in Bushy Park in Tasmania.
“It’s fantastic, I’m so stoked! It’s not just for us, there’s a lot of people in the brewery who work day in day out. We’re going to put that award in the brewery and the guys are going to be over the moon.”
Both James Squire and Stone & Wood are establishing something of a lineage in the English-style Summer Ale category.
Pacific Ale previously won the exact same award in 2012, while James Squire has previously won Bronze with its Golden Ale.
Lean year for Aussies
But 2016 will go down as a lean year at the World Beer Cup for Australian breweries, which entered a total of 111 beers, the seventh most heavily represented country at the awards.
Their resulting two awards amount to an award-winning rate of 1.8 per cent, far behind countries including Japan (6.7 per cent), Germany (6.4 per cent), UK (5.3 per cent) and US (4.8 per cent).
All three medals in the Australian-Style Pale Ale category were won by American brewers.
However, Australians can console themselves in the knowledge that the 2016 World Beer Cup was more fiercely contested than ever before.
This edition saw 6,596 beers entered from 1,907 breweries representing 55 countries – a 38.5 per cent increase in the number of entries from the 2014 World Beer Cup, which had 4,754 entries.
The average number of beers entered per category was 69, up from 50 in 2014 — a marker of the 2016 World Beer Cup’s high level of competitiveness.
The 287 awards were won by 253 breweries, with very few breweries earning more than one award.