Updated Monday October 17: Scroll down for list of winners.
For amateur brewers around Australia, Thursday October 13 was a day of reckoning, with the annual Australian Amateur Brewing Championship (AABC) taking place at the German Club in Adelaide.
This year’s event received 361 entries, spanning 18 style categories (20 if you include meads and ciders).
To say the volunteer run event is highly organised is an understatement. Behind the bar, ‘retrieval’ staff make sure entries are picked in the correct order, before stewards deliver them to individual tables each consisting of three qualified judges. A brains trust then compiles the scores, crunching numbers, and entering details into a computer.
Scores and evaluation notes are later supplied to individual brewers, allowing them to further hone their craft, providing them with a valuable source of feedback.
Each beer is individually evaluated (in triplicate) based on the characteristics of Bouquet/Aroma, Appearance, Flavour, Body, and then Overall Impression. These characteristics vary by style, and have been published and agreed to by the AABC organising committee and based on the internationally accepted Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines (AABC guidelines can be downloaded from www.aabc.org.au).
Having three judges per table ensures the judging process is as fair as possible, and after each judge has evaluated the same beer, scores are compared amongst the three judges to ensure consistency, before finalisation and total averages for each beer are then calculated.
The judging tables for the non-beer categories of mead and cider have been located at the far extreme of the room, to make sure there is no aroma drift occurs to the beer area, being another indicator of the attention to detail that has gone into the planning of the event.
To the discerning ear, the low tones of judges discussing the merits of each beer can be heard around the room, while swirling samples in clear plastic cups can be seen en masse, some even ‘probing’ the brews to make sure they are at the optimal temperature before tasting.
“Unlike a wine competition a sample of the beer must be consumed by each judge to properly evaluate it,” says competition Co-ordinator Mike Leupold. “Although almost every beer drinker would love to be on the judging panel, finding the 60 qualified judges required to do the job, and bringing them together in one room is quite a challenge,” he said.
The competition is open to any amateur brewer residing in Australia that has first qualified at their relevant state comp earlier in the year. Approved qualifying competitions were this year run in NSW, QLD, Victoria, WA, SA, Tasmania, and the ACT. It is anticipated that in the future the Northern Territory will come on board.
While the event is only open to amateur brewers, the bragging rights of placing in either the state or national comp are not only a testament to the skills of the brewer, but in past competitions, have also been the catalyst for brewers turning their hobby into a job and turning professional.
The AABC prefaced the Australian National Home Brewing Conference (ANHC5), which kicked off on Friday 14th October.
The AABC results were announced at a Gala Dinner on Friday October 14 at the Adelaide Town Hall.
The overall best beer was awarded to Mikko Pludra (for his entry below), while best overall brewer was Bernie Glass.
Fittingly, the champion state was South Australia. The complete list of winners is as follows, with names in order (ie 1st, 2nd & 3rd for each category).
Category: 1. Low Alcohol (<4% ABV)
Ian Parr (TAS) 1.3 Scottish Light Ale
Ian Triggs (NSW) 1.5 Mild Ale
Rob Vanstone (QLD) 1.5 Mild Ale
Category: 2. Pale Lager
Bernie Glass (WA) 2.2 Australian Premium Lager
Adam Beauchamp (SA) 2.5 Dortmunder
Geoff Donnellon (VIC) 2.2 Australian Premium Lager
Category: 3. Pilsener (sponsored by Australian Brews News)
Scott Eckford (QLD) 3.3 Bohemian Pilsner
Ian Mooney (NSW) 3.2 German Pilsner
Paul Main (ACT) 3.1 Classic American Pilsner
Category: 4. Amber & Dark Lager
Matthew Wood (SA) 4.4 North German Altbier
Bernie Glass (WA) 4.5 Munich Dunkel
Adam Beauchamp (SA) 4.5 Munich Dunkel
Category: 5. Strong Lager
Brad Donaldson (SA) 5.4 Doppelbock
Craig Dunbar (NSW) 5.2 Maibock/Hellesbock
Daniel Court (VIC) 5.4 Doppelbock
Category: 6. Pale Ale
Matt Bradford (QLD) 6.3 Kölsch
Adrian Ison (ACT) 6.3 Kölsch
Lachlan Johnson (SA) 6.5 Australian Pale Ale
Category: 7. American Pale Ale
Shaun Lawson (VIC) 7.1 American Pale Ale
Adrian Reich (SA) 7.1 American Pale Ale
John Dykes (VIC) 7.1 American Pale Ale
Category: 8. Bitter Ale
Simon Batty (SA) 8.4 American Amber Ale
James Gallagher (WA) 8.3 English Extra Special/Strong Bitter (ESB)
Bruce Tonkin (SA) 8.3 English Extra Special/Strong Bitter (ESB)
Category: 9. Brown Ale
Matthew Kennedy (SA) 9.3 Scottish Ale
Bob Paniak (WA) 9.5 American Brown Ale
Ben Willing (NSW) 9.2 Irish Red Ale
Category: 10. Porter
Paul Main (ACT) 10.2 Robust Porter
Paul Moseley (WA) 10.1 Brown Porter
Shaun Murphy (VIC) 10.1 Brown Porter
Category: 11. Stout
Ned Summerhayes (WA) 11.3 Oatmeal Stout
Phillip Kennedy (QLD) 11.2 Sweet Stout
Ben Lugg (QLD) 11.3 Oatmeal Stout
Category: 12. Strong Stout (>6% ABV)
Karl Robinson (QLD) 12.3 Russian Imperial Stout
David Tetley (NSW) 12.3 Russian Imperial Stout
Greg Butters (TAS) 12.1 Australian Stout/ Foreign Extra Stout
Category: 13. India Pale Ale
Andrew Freeman (NSW) 13.2 American IPA
Bill Swancott (ACT) 13.2 American IPA
Luke Ronalds (QLD) 13.3 Imperial IPA
Category: 14. Strong Ale (>6% ABV)
Matt Spencer (SA) 14.4 American Barley wine
Stephen Lawford (ACT) 14.3 English Barley wine
John Sheehan (VIC) 14.1 Old Ale (English Strong Ale)
Category: 15. Belgian Strong Ale (>6% ABV)
Tim Byrne (TAS) 15.4 Dubbel
Roger Duncan (QLD) 15.5 Belgian Dark Strong Ale
Kent Getsinger (SA) 15.5 Belgian Dark Strong Ale
Category: 16. Wheat & Rye Beer
Bryce van Denderen (VIC) 16.2 Weizen/Weißbier (Wheat)
Luke Scrivens (SA) 16.2 Weizen/Weißbier (Wheat)
Mark Bedford (QLD) 16.1 American Wheat or Rye Beer
Category: 17. Farmhouse Ale & Wild Beer
Nick Potter (ACT) 17.1 Witbier (White Beer)
Craig Ditcham (VIC) 17.4 Flanders Red Ale
Jeff McGrath (WA) 17.9 Fruit Lambic
Category: 18. Specialty Beer
Mikko Pludra (VIC) 18.1 Fruit Beer
Ben Willing (NSW) 18.2 Spice/Herb/Vegetable Beer
Nigel Graham (TAS) 18.1 Fruit Beer
Category: 19. Mead
Darren Blackhurst (ACT) 19.6 Other Mead
Ben Harmer (ACT) 19.2 Sweet Mead
Jeff McGrath (WA) 19.4 Metheglin
Category: 20. Cider
Calum Maxwell (WA) 20.2 English Cider
Mitch Willebrand (QLD) 20.3 Other Cider
Neal Kavanagh (VIC) 20.3 Other Cider