“I love beer!”
That statement by Julia Jenkins opened the Australian National Homebrewing Conference Gala & Pairing Dinner. She then explained how she first grew to love beer from her first taste, which was a Redback. This love took her on a journey that would lead her to co-owning a beer-focused restaurant, Josie Bones. Her confident and witty manner of hosting the evening, along with the food and beer matching, ensured that the event would be a success.
The Australian Amateur Brewing Championship (AABC) awards have the reputation for being a ‘Bearded Brownlow’, with some homebrewers growing facial hair especially for the event. But it was attended not just by homebrewers and a handful of their longsuffering wives having their one night out of the year. The room also had more that it’s fair share of some of the superstars of the craft beer world. So we were able to share fine beers, dinner, and a few laughs with people like Chris White, White Labs; Christian Andersen, Beer Here; John Palmer, author; Matt Brynildson, Firestone Walker Brewing; and Jess Caudill, Wyeast.
Each course was paired with a specially brewed beer. Julia got the brewers to explain their beers and brewing process during each course. The beer that started the evening was a full-bodied 7.6% Saison, brewed by Brian Fitzgerald, WA. He used a blend of specialty yeasts to get the delightful complex flavours for this beer.
Dan Dainton, VIC, then spoke about a homebrew Pilsner that he was encouraged to enter into the 2011 AABC competition. That beer won Best In Class, and so he brewed a similar beer that was served with the entrée to this dinner.
Doctor Tanja Luckins was then invited to discuss the history of Six O’clock Closing in Australia. Her discussion followed the lines of her 2007 paper, Pigs, Hogs and Aussie Blokes.
Andrew Clarke, QLD, the brewer of the English IPA that was served with the main course, was unable to attend. But that didn’t stop Julia from doing a commentary on his behalf. The remarks were a mix of the brewer’s notes and her own views on what the brewer might have said.
Comic duo ElbowSkin provided some laughs with their routine of satirical songs. The highlight, being the song ‘Craft Beer’ that everyone there could relate too. I’m sure you’ll agree with a line in the song that goes, “We’re not snobs we’ve just got good taste.”
Dave Elbow and Ernie Skin, otherwise known as ElbowSkin, then presented the AABC Awards. All the award winners, that were present on the evening, were herded into a corner next to the stage before the announcements of their actual award were made known. Homebrewers from Queensland fared the best, and were awarded the Champion State. The Champion Beer of Show was also from Queensland, by David Colville, who unfortunately wasn’t there to receive his award. The full results can be found here.
A coffee imperial stout was served with the sour cherry sorbet, which was brewed by Dan Rayner, ACT. Rich and thick, it had a copper coloured head. Dan explained that “Imperial Stout is all about balance.” So while the beer had about 100 IBU, it was still very drinkable due to the residual malt sugars. We all agreed that this was the beer of the night, and nothing could be more enjoyable.
That is of course until we tasted the next beer. This stand out beer, was a Berliner Weisse, which was brewed by Brendan O’Sullivan, VIC. He used a number of malts including some acidulated malts, and a number of yeasts including acidophilus. Then some Brettanomyces was right at the end to provide the complex flavours that made the beer so delightful.
It was a fitting end to the award ceremony for the AABC. Everyone involved waxed glowingly about the hard work that went on behind the scenes to make the event a success. They now have a year to recover for the next AABC, and two years to plan for the next ANHC Gala in 2014.