Last Friday the six finalists of the World’s Best Beer Trip were announced. The competition to win an all expenses paid trip to six breweries in five countries over four weeks received over 800 entries. The six organising breweries then selected their favourite photos from each region.
Australia and New Zealand were represented by Sydney’s 4 Pines Brewery, Perth’s Feral Brewing and Hamilton’s Good George Brewery on New Zeland’s north island.
4 Pines voted in Lachlan Toose, who has often been seen around Melbourne craft beer events dressed in a hot dog suit. A school teacher, ironman finisher and undeniably a creative force when entering local beer competitions, Lachlan told The Crafty Pint that he has never travelled further west in Australia than Lorne (2 hours drive from Melbourne). Hence, Lachlan is incredibly eager to cross the Nullarbor and visit the award winning Feral brewery in the Swan Valley.
Feral Brewing’s vote went to Cam Stevens, a Perth man who knows all too well the absence of good beer. For 28 days at a time Cam works on a drill-ship, 200km off the coast of Western Australia, followed by 28 days off duty. Despite the self-described adventure of his work, “exposed to the forefront of cutting edge engineering mixed with old school seafaring mentality”, the confined space of working at sea has him itching to visit lands beyond, so he can soak in some of the world’s best craft beers.
Representing New Zealand, Good George Brewing chose Nikki Styles from Wellington, who lives and breathes beer and brewing with her husband, two children and their puppy. In 2011, Nikki and husband Aidan established an online brewing supplies shop. Within the last year their home business has expanded into a full fledge craft brewery, with the beers of Baylands Brewery now regularly pouring at bars around Wellington. A journalist and communications specialist by trade, Nikki now utilises those skills as the Marketing Manager and assistant brewer of their small brewing operation, while also a prolific social media user across twitter, instagram and her blog, Wife of a Brewer.
Australian Brews News asked each of the finalists from Australia and New Zealand about their efforts to win the World’s Best Beer Trip.
How much do you love beer?
Lachlan: I freakin love beer. Craft beer people are great because loving beer isn’t seen as the department of weird old blokes drinking schooners at a 10am happy hour on a weekday.
Cam: When I work offshore 28 days at a time, there are 2 things that I genuinely miss. 1) my wife; 2) beer. And not necessarily in that order!
Nikki: Passionately. The brown bubbly liquid has taken over my life. I gave up a high paying executive job in August because while I was at work all I could think about was beer, so I decided to stop work and have a change of career and spend my days doing beer stuff. Sure, I get dusty while milling grains and lifting the 20kg kegs and 25kg sacks aren’t exactly fun – but I leave the bitterness for the beer. I have quickly discovered there isn’t a lot of money in making beer – so what do I do it for LOVE of course! The key thing that drives my passion is the look on people’s faces for the first three seconds when they drink one of your beers. 99% of the time its a mixture of surprise and some unconscious head nodding with approval.
What were your first thoughts when you heard about the World’s Best Beer Trip competition?
Lachlan: I was amazed. Great trip, great prize. I assumed that there would be a stack load of entries.
Cam: Craft brewery in Shanghai? Game on.
Nikki: Holy wow weasel that would be beyond incredible to win. I’m going to give it a go.
Why do you think this is the world’s best beer trip?
Lachlan: When breweries collaborate on a beer it’s fantastic. When they collaborate on an international beer tour, that’s awesome!
Cam: Craft brewing is a way of life. Beer connects people. There is something special about sitting down with a glistening glass of hoppy goodness. You can taste a sense of pride when you drink a beer straight from the brewery. To be able to drink from the source is an absolute pleasure and the essence that makes this trip so good.
Nikki: For me this trip wouldn’t be about drinking beer. For me it’s about experiencing how some of the best craft breweries in the world operate and learning as much as I can from them. It would be like a month long internship for me. I would bring the knowledge back to incorporate into our own brewery and to share with the New Zealand craft beer community. The breweries the winner goes to have an long history of awesomeness. You can’t pay to sit and absorb awesomeness like that.
What is the most extreme thing you have done for a beer before?
Lachlan: Seems less extreme now, but as a uni student paying $50 for a 250ml bottle of Redoak’s Grand Champion back in 2006 was extreme.
Cam: I drank a shot of snake blood in Laos to get my beer for free. Not recommended.
Nikki: I did climb Mount Taranaki in the North Island when I was younger. It took us eight hours to get to the top. I look a bottle of filthy old Flame up with me and opened it at the top with some mates. Then again, I guess giving up your house, job, new shoes, $40 bottles of wine, your garage and most of your savings to start a brewery so you can have a beer anytime you want from the kegerator is also pretty extreme.
How did you approach your competition entries?
Lachlan: To enter, I went back through the thousands of photos on my phone to find good beer ones. Drafted up my comments and started firing them at 4 Pines. Made a YouTube video to encourage them a bit more. Seems to have got me through.
Cam: Sympathy votes, let’s say! I’m sure there must be 1000’s of Aussies that can relate to the feeling of working on a site for months on end with no access to beer.
Nikki: I decided to be creative with the word beer and its synonyms. In my entry I tried to do something that caught the judges’ eye. After two kids and a few too many beers I wanted to show just enough skin, but not enough that it was dodgy. I actually contacted Good George to check about the no nudity clause in the terms and conditions before I did it. It seemed to work. I’m not usually one to get nude, so it’s definitely something out of my comfort zone.
If you do win, which beer from the competition’s brewers are you most looking forward to drinking fresh at the brewery where it’s made, and why?
Lachlan: I love the idea of fresh [Feral Brewing] Hop Hog, although it would be fascinating to see what China is up to. Be great to see how their industry is evolving.
Cam: I’m hanging to try Dirt Wolf double IPA from Philly’s Victory Brewing. The American craft breweries hit the nail on the head when it comes to heavy hop hitters. It would be pretty special to drink a London porter in London on Greenwich meantime.
Nikki: The Brew in China. I know it’s been set up by Australians, but I understand they use some traditional Chinese beer making techniques there. I’ve searched them on Untappd and RateBeer and it sounds like their lagers are pretty tasty. I’d be keen to discover what a fresh beer that contains bitter melons instead of hops tastes like. You can’t find anything like that at the local supermarket in New Zealand.
Who will win, and help spread the good word of Aussie and Kiwi beer on the world stage?
With 4 days remaining to vote, Nikki was in front with over 1,350 votes, followed by UK representative Paul Cutter, who was selected by Meantime Brewing.
A big weekend of voting will be need to propel Lachlan and Cam who currently stand on 249 and 66 votes respectively.
To have your say, visit the competition website and “Like” the photo of who you think should win the World’s Best Beer Trip.
Voting closes on Tuesday 22nd October 2013, 1:00pm New Zealand time.