Breweries entering beer awards that are judged in their home state will always have a major advantage over their interstate peers, says Wheaty Brewing Corps founder Jade Flavell.
Wheaty picked up four gold medals to be named Champion Small Brewer at the Craft Beer Awards in Adelaide in July.
“Our mission was to get a gold. We just wanted a gold for any of our beers and we would have been absolutely stoked,” Flavell told Radio Brews News.
“In the first three categories we got four golds… to get any golds was phenomenal, to get four was really amazing.
“I was also really happy about how we did it. Obviously golds are golds, but to get it across such a diverse range of styles I think was really satisfying as well.”
Flavell said it had been a steep learning curve for the Wheaty team since they installed a brewery at their Adelaide pub in 2014.
“I had no formal training as a brewer… There was a lot to learn in a short space of time, and I think that certainly the difference in our beers from when we first started pouring them to now is quite dramatic,” she said.
Home ground advantage
However, Flavell said Wheaty had undoubtedly been assisted by the fact that the awards were judged in its home city.
“Home ground advantage is very, very real, both in terms of the beer and the way it presents and in terms of cost,” she said.
“I feel for Western Australia… If you’re all the way over there it’s going to cost you a packet to send your beer, particularly if you’re sending it cold, which you should be.
“You then have to scoot around the country as well and accommodate and all the rest of it.
“If you look at the history of results I reckon you can certainly draw a correlation… the home teams tend to do pretty well, and I don’t think that’s by accident,” Flavell said.
She said it would be a shame if a decision was ever made to hold the Craft Beer Awards – the new name for which has not been decided – in a fixed location every year*.
“Scheduling is a challenge for us because we only have three fermenters, so if you’re trying to schedule all of your hoppy beers to be as fresh as possible for instance, while not staling your saisons, it’s a logistical challenge,” Flavell said.
“If you then couple that with having to have your beers ready, say a couple of weeks earlier, in order to ship them, then there’s a distinct advantage to the home team.
“One of our gold medal winning beers, the Danger Zone, we kegged that the day we delivered it to the consolidation point,” she said.
“If we had been sending our beer interstate we just wouldn’t have been able to put that beer in because we couldn’t time it with three fermenters.”
She said that holding the awards in a different city each year ensures a more level playing field for the breweries.
*The Independent Brewers Association said there is no plan whatsoever to move away from its current policy of moving the awards around.