2018 AIBAs – Champion Australian Small Brewery

We are still revelling in the high of last weeks’ results at the Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA’s) where Black Hops received the trophy for the Australian Champion Small Brewery. In this post we wanted to thank a few people and give a bit of a backstory on what our results mean to us.

The AIBA’s is the largest annual beer competition in the world, judging both draught and packaged beer – we like to say it’s the Oscars for beer – and includes many breweries we have looked up to for inspiration over the years.

While we have medalled in previous years, it’s been other breweries that have led an impressive local showing at the awards. Last year Green Beacon, Balter and Stone & Wood won the 3 Champion Trophies of Small, Medium and large brewer respectively.

We have one epic team at home in Burleigh Heads but still given our size, scale and brewery budget, it was always going to be a big ask for us to better our 2017 results of 2 Golds and a Silver. Yet 2018 proved to surpass all of our expectations with medals for all of our entrants (5 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze), as well as trophies for Best Belgian / French Ale for Beach House and the prize we never spoke about but all dreamed about, Champion Small Australian Brewery.

This is a very big milestone for Black Hops as a business. We pride ourselves on every aspect of what we do and we have the best team in the industry to do it. From the amazing Ali and our taproom team, who without fail make every person that walks in feel at home and as if they are having a beer with their best mates, to Leah and our office team (The Chair Force) who pull together all the final strings behind the scenes, Joao who literally carries our product, brand and values from HQ to our customers, Railo and Kearnsy the 2 best sales guns for hire, all of our casuals, investors, contractors & suppliers and our amazing ambassadors & customers.

But every medal and trophy win at the AIBAs is about beer quality, so it’s our production team who have been working together for less than 12 months, who are the real champions behind this win.

For Govs who has built this team, designed the system and brewed no less than 65 different Black Hops beers in the last few years, this is a huge accolade. No one will really know the work and the times of struggle that have gone on getting this brewery going, from early days of brewing on our home brew system, to countless stressful nights and thousands of emails back and forth figuring out how we can build a brewery for a fraction of the accepted standard, through to constantly saying yes to big public commitments which have landed solely on Govs to produce a quality beer.

We’ve always seen the Champion Small Brewer award at the AIBAs as the ultimate measure of the quality of what we are doing, and while we’ve never had a budget anywhere near what we need, Govs has still managed to pull results like this together.

It was less than a year ago that Curran joined our team as a brewer, with no prior commercial experience and has since rapidly grown into a talented and tenacious craftsman, and Satoshi who brought with him a wealth of brewing knowledge but has had very little time spent brewing on our equipment to learn the intricacies of it. And Eddie who has been right there, every minute of every discussion and brewing activity from day 1. You guys should be bloody proud of yourselves because we sure are!

We also certainly couldn’t have achieved it without the help and support of the wider craft beer community, in particular, Steve Henderson (Hendo) who is an absolute legend of the industry.

Last year we recorded a podcast series with Hendo called “The Road to the AIBA’s” which follows the journey to Australia’s biggest beer awards. This really got us extra fired up to focus on these awards as the only awards we put in for, and the ones we’d love to win.

Here’s a list of the final medal and award count for Black Hops:

Champion Small Australian Brewery
Beach House – Best Belgian / French Ale
Pale Ale – Gold Medal in category Australian Pale Ale
Pink Mist – Gold Medal in Fruit Beer
Code Red – Gold Medal in Double Hoppy Red Ale
Beach House – Gold Medal in French / Belgian Ale
G.O.A.T – Gold Medal in IPA – NEIPA
Hornet – Silver Medal in New World Pale Ale
Eggnog Stout – Bronze Medal in Herb / Spice Beer
Lay Day – Bronze Medal in Wheat Beer Lager
30 Cal – Bronze Medal in Reduced Alcohol

On the back of this award, we are certainly not falling in to a place of complacency, we have already sat down and analysed and discussed the results and identified room for improvement. Still, we are more inspired than ever to continue to brew great beer, inspired by the brewers around us who are achieving great things, and more so by the people who drink our beer – that’s who we do this for and we hope we can continue to provide our customers with a world class product!

We’d also like to send a huge shout out to Green Beacon who impressively scaled from Small to Medium brewery and still took out the champion trophy in their category, and our friends at Mountain Goat who took out Champion Large Australian Brewery.

Thanks so much for your support and being part of our story, see you at HQ for a celebratory beer.

Image from The Crafty Pint

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