Tiny Ballarat-based brewery Dollar Bill completed a remarkable double, claiming Champion Australian Independent Beer at the Indies just months after winning Champion Australian Beer at the Australian International Beer Awards.
The trophy for Gold Teeth, a blended wild ale with peaches, took out the title of best beer at the awards ceremony on the Gold Coast just three months after their triumph with Candy Paint. Adding to their incredible streak is the fact an earlier vintage of Gold Teeth won Fi and Ed Nolle their first AIBA Champion Australian Beer as recently as 2021.
On receiving the trophy, brewer Ed said: "Thank you for being part of our family. It's incredible."
With Fi – after dancing her way across the stage (see above) – adding: "If you don't already know it, you're all fucking legends. Bring it on!"
Over the course of a raucous evening hosted by the Independent Brewers Association (IBA) – one so raucous at times that MC Will Tatchell had to deliver some fairly stern admonishments (well, it was the first in the flesh in four years), a mix of familiar and newer faces took to the stage to collect trophies.
It pretty much goes without saying these days that Moffat Beach Brewing will see their name up in lights and, once again, that was the case. The family-run Sunshine Coast outfit took out Champion Australian Independent Medium Brewery, Champion Traditional Pale Ale for their Passenger Pale Ale, Champion Reduced / Mid for Social Jam, and Champion Queensland Brewery.
They weren't the only local winners as the awards took place in the Sunshine State for the first time. Aether Brewing doubled up with Champion Modern India Pale Ale for their IPA and Champion Juicy-Hazy Pale for their All Australian Pale Ale, while Belgian beer specialists Madocke, who brew just a few kilometres from The Island, where the Indies took place, were named Champion Australian Independent Small Brewery, and Felons will be heading back to Brisbane with Champion European-style Ale for their Belgian Tripel.
Elsewhere, all states bar Tasmania were represented amid the beer trophies. Joining Dollar Bill were fellow Victorians TWØBAYS, as the gluten-free brewers claimed Champion Specialty Beer for their Session Ale, Hawkers, whose Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine 2022 was named Champion Strong, Wood + Barrel-Aged Beer, and Moon Dog, whose flagship pale ale Old Mate won Champion Modern Pale Ale on the night they passed the Champion Australian Independent Large Brewery gong to another Melbourne-based operation: Brick Lane.
Brick Lane's Paul Bowker used the occasion of their Champion Australian Independent Large Brewery win to highlight one of the panels he'd been to on increasing diversity and diversity in the industry earlier in the day.
"And long may it live," he said.
Repping for NSW were brewers drawn from far and wide across the state. Bathurst-based Reckless added another piece of silverware to their cabinet for their Stout. Dangerous Ales, who brew in Milton on the South Coast, picked up Champion Juicy-Hazy India Pale Ale for Fightin With Lightnin Thiolized Hazy IPA. Merino Brewery from Narellan won Champion British-style Ale for their ESB. And in the very north of the state, Seven Mile's West Coast IPA collected another major trophy just months after winning the same award at the AIBAs.
Dangerous Ales' trophy was presented by US Brewers Association CEO Bob Pease, who commented as he prepared to announce the winner, that Australians really knew how to throw an awards party. Moments later, he was hoisted onto the shoulders of the Dangerous Ales team's shoulders – before founder and head brewer Damo Martin even had time to make it to the stage.
Completing the picture for the country's most populous state was Heaps Normal, who have swapped the ACT for Marrickville and won both Champion Non-Alcohol for Half Day Hazy and Champion Australian Independent Contract Brewer. That makes it two years straight that a brewer of non-alc beers has won the latter trophy, following in the footsteps of UpFlow in 2022.
For SA's brewing scene, it was a couple of past winners flying the flag, as Mismatch Lager – Champion Independent Beer in 2018 – took out Champion Traditional Lager as the Wheaty Brewing Corps picked up Champion Modern Lager for Fortune Keller, a collab with Bridge Road Brewers.
Returning to the stage to collect Champion SA Brewery later in the night, Jade added: "Kellerbier is the new cerveza!" in reference to the t-shirt she'd unveiled during The Crafty Pint's BrewCon-closing debate earlier in the day.
Completing the picture was Boston Brewing, based in Denmark in WA's South West, whose Devilslide Red IPA claimed its latest trophy in the Champion Amber/Dark category.
The 2023 awards was the first time in four years the independent brewing industry had been able to gather en masse since 2019, and capped off a busy three days on the Gold Coast. BrewCon took place at the Gold Coast Convention Centre, featuring a diverse program of panels and presentations, including an optimistic and entertaining keynote speech from Bernard Salt. Meanwhile, well over 100 exhibitors showcased their wares at the trade expo.
The competition attracted 1,348 entries from 190 brewing companies, with the most popular categories Modern Pale Ale, Traditional Lager and Reduced Alcohol. A total of 229 beers were awarded gold medals. The most golds were handed out in the Modern Pale and Specialty categories.
Of course, the Indies is about more than just beer: they recognise the achievements of individuals within the wider industry too. Nail Brewing founder and one of the driving forces behind the WA craft beer scene, John Stallwood, was a hugely popular winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, with The Crafty Pint-sponsored Young Gun of the Year award going to Evin Craney of Bright Brewery, who we featured in our Victorian Best Of 2022 roundup last December.
True Indie Supporter was passed from one Melbourne beer venue to another, with Ben Carwyn of Carwyn Cellars following on from The Catfish in 2022. Services To Industry was awarded to Tiffany Waldron, currently president of Pink Boots Society Australia and working for Beer Fans, but who has worked in many roles across the industry over the past decade and more.
IBA chair Richard Watkins said in a media release: “Both the number of entries and medals should be celebrated given some of the challenging circumstances currently facing the industry. What a way to kick the bad times to the curb!
"Congratulations to all medalists, champions and entrants, you are all winners in our eyes.”
IBA CEO Kylie Lethbridge added: “This year we celebrated in style, in Surfers Paradise, together as an industry for the first time since 2019. The fantastic setting, warm night, great company and gorgeous array of beers was just the best way to celebrate excellence in brewing and to cheer on our 2023 award winners."
View the full list of trophy winners, including state and territory champions, below. The awards ceremony was recorded and will be available on the IBA YouTube channel after it's been edited.
Indies 2023 Winners
Champion Australian Independent Beer – Presented by Konvoy
Dollar Bill Gold Teeth
Champion Australian Independent Large Brewery – Presented by Orora Beverages
Brick Lane Brewing
Champion Australian Independent Medium Brewery – Presented by Cryer Malt
Moffat Beach Brewing
Champion Australian Independent Small Brewery – Presented by Gladfield Malt
Champion Australian Independent Contract Brewer – Presented by Rallings Label Specialists
Champion Modern Pale Ale – Presented by Yakima Chief Hops
Moon Dog Old Mate
Champion Traditional Pale Ale – Presented by Mettler-Toledo
Moffat Beach Passenger Pale Ale
Champion Amber-Dark Ale – presented by LOUD
Boston Brewing Devilslide Red IPA
Champion Porter/ Stout – Presented by CHILL
Reckless Brewing Stout
Champion Juicy-Hazy Pale Ale – Presented by Athena Quality
Aether Brewing All Australian Pale Ale
Champion Juicy-Hazy India Pale Ale – Presented by the American Brewers Association
Dangerous Ales Fightin With Lightnin Thiolized Hazy IPA
Champion Specialty Beer – Presented by Roxset Health & Safety Flooring
TWØBAYS Brewing Session Ale
Champion Traditional Lager – Presented by Keg ID
Mismatch Brewing Lager
Champion Modern Lager – Presented by Barrett Burston Malting
The Wheaty Brewing Corp Fortune
Champion Modern India Pale Ale – Presented by Hop Products Australia
Aether Brewing IPA
Champion Traditional India Pale Ale – Presented by Coles Liquor
Seven Mile Brewing West Coast IPA
Champion European-Style Ale – Presented by Blackhearts & Sparrows
Felons Brewing Co Belgian Tripel
Champion British-Style Ale – Presented by CFT Group
Merino Brewery ESB
Champion Non-Alcohol – Presented by By George Legal
Heaps Normal Half Day Hazy
Champion Reduced Alcohol – Presented by Presented by Lallemand Brewing
Moffat Beach Social Jam Pale Mid
Champion Strong, Wood + Barrel-Aged – Presented by Midland Insurance
Hawkers Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine 2022
Champion Sour, Fruit + Funk – Presented by The Berry Man
Dollar Bill Gold Teeth
Champion Western Australia Brewery – Presented by the Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development WA
Black Brewing Co
Champion ACT & Northern Territory Brewery – Presented by MH Training
BentSpoke Brewing Co
Champion New South Wales Brewery – Presented by New South Wales Government
Champion South Australia Brewery – Presented by Tributum Law
Wheaty Brewing Corps
Champion Tasmania Brewery – Presented by the Independent Brewers Association
Champion Victoria Brewery – Presented by the Victorian Drinks Alliance
Champion Queensland Brewery – Presented by Queensland Government
Lifetime Achievement Award – Presented by Brews News
Young Gun of the Year – Presented by The Crafty Pint
Evin Craney, Bright Brewery
True Indie Supporter – Presented by Thirsty Merchants
Ben Carwyn, Carwyn Cellars
Service to the Industry – Presented by Independent Brewers Association
Tiffany Waldron, Pink Boots