Ok, the good news is that two of this country’s finest brewing minds have teamed up to craft a celebratory beer to mark the Australian International Beer Awards 20th anniversary. The bad news is it is going to be harder to find than flavour in a clear glass bottle.
Over the last twenty years the AIBA has grown from humble beginnings to become one of the world’s premier beer awards. Presented by the RASV in conjunction with the University of Ballarat, the event is held at the Melbourne Showgrounds from Monday the 2nd of April. This year boasts over 1350 entries from 52 countries, attracting some of the world’s most esteemed beer judges with judges coming from as far afield as Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
To celebrate this most epic of all beer awards, the organizers of the AIBA approached two of last year’s trophy winners, Brendan Varis of WA’s Feral Brewing and Andrew Ong from Victoria’s own 2 Brothers to collaborate on a brew showcasing the best Australian industry has to offer. After several transportation mishaps, I was lucky enough to find myself in the industrial heartland of Moorabbin and at the roller-door of the 2 Brothers brewery to bear witness to this affair.
Only too happy to oblige, both brewers have nothing but praise for the AIBA, seeing it as an invaluable marketing opportunity for the Australian craft beer industry. Andrew says that 2 Brothers have benefited immensely from the awards they have earned for the Guv’nor Barley Wine and the Voodoo Baltic Porter in 2011. Brendan also espouses the worth of the awards for the local industry as all brewers can gain valuable insight by having their beers evaluated by a panel of experts as it establishes a benchmark to aim for.
Known simply as the Collaborator, Brendan and Andrew were given free rein to decide upon a style and have settled upon what they call an Australian Brown Ale, a brew comprising 100% Australian sourced ingredients. The philosophy behind the beer is to be a celebration of the Australian brewing industry in its entirety, from the farmers, to the malt houses, to the hop growers, to the brewers; the Collaborator is a statement of where the industry is at.
Indeed, in addition to the two breweries a number of Australian companies have donated to the brew including Hopco, Cryer Malt and Barrett Burston, Plasdene (bottles), with Pack Creations organizing the labelling. Rarely has a beer been so aptly named.
Showcasing the holy trinity of Australian hops, Galaxy, Stella and Summer, combined with pale ale and crystal malt with an addition of Australian oats. The result will be a hop-forward brown ale, possessed of a tropical punchbowl aroma of oily hops and an intensely bitter flavour offset with a slightly cloying sweetness and solid malt backbone.
With only 16 hectolitres being brewed, 65 cases of bottles are being reserved for the awards themselves, with the debut presentation at the AIBA presentation awards dinner on Thursday the 17/5 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre with the remainder headed for Beer Deluxe on draught and few lucky, as yet unannounced venues after that, so if you wish to try this once in a life time brew then it’s the quick and the dead. The hunt begins in four weeks.