2021 Black Hops Wrap Up

Following on from the challenges of 2020, the past 12 months has been one of further consolidation and growth in the world of Black Hops. We’re proud to say that we still remain majority founder owned and independent, having no institutional investors or venture capital input.

On the brewing front we brewed 104 different beers in 2021, consisting of 76 new beers and 28 rebrews. This equates to exactly 2 new beers per week!

All up we brewed 2.2 millions litres of beer in 2021, up from 1.6 million litres in 2020. And to keep up with the pace, we more than doubled our staff numbers, going from 39 to 81 Black Hops employees (50 FTE).

Off the back of all this beer, our growth continued on an upwards trend (we were stoked to finish at number 24 in the Australian Financial Review’s list of 100 Fastest Growing Companies for the year), with our annual turnover rising from $10.4m to $15.2m.

We are truly grateful for all the support that we continually receive from our customers, investors and friends! Here’s a breakdown of our 2021 highlights reel.

January: G.O.A.T. Goes Top 5 In GABS Hottest 100

In the 2020 countdown we had the fifth most votes for any brewery in the country, with four of our beers cracking the top 100 and Pale Ale topping our list in 14th spot.

In 2021 we took things to another level, with seven beers in the running, all bar one in the top 50. We were super-stoked that all of them appeared in the top 100, with G.O.A.T. debuting at number 5, our best result ever!

And to also get two limited release beers in the top 50 (Neverland & Caribbean Haze) exceeded our wildest expectations.

  • G.O.A.T : 5
  • Pale Ale: 16
  • Hornet: 17
  • Super Hornet: 42
  • Neverland: 49
  • Caribbean Haze: 50
  • Send It: 58

March: Celebrating the 2nd birthday of BHII

March marked the 2 year anniversary of the launch of our Northern Gold Coast brewery, Black Hops II. We threw a party to celebrate, dropping these two birthday beers which we brewed especially for the occasion:

  • Tropic Thunder Fruited Hazy IPA
  • Dessert Storm Choc Raspberry Imperial Cake Stout

March: Returning Champions at Qld Beer Awards

On 3 March a Black Hops contingent attended the annual Royal Queensland Beer Awards, with top brewers from all over Australia coming together and competing for national recognition.

Having performed strongly at these awards previously we were once again stoked to continue our winning tradition, with our beers and brewery saluting at the podium for two trophies and two gold medals in the following categories:

  • Champion Large Brewery: Black Hops
  • Champion IPA: Code Red
  • Gold Medal: Code Red (draught & packaged)
  • Gold Medal: Send It (draught)

It was the 2nd year in 3 years the team won Champion IPA for Code Red and the Champion Brewery trophy. We also scored a stack of silver and bronze medals for our beers – for the full rundown of our results, go here.

April: We Commit To a $3 Million Packaging Line Upgrade

In April we commenced a three million dollar upgrade to our primary production brewery at Biggera Waters (BHII), with the purchase and planned implementation of a new, state of the art packaging line solution.

The new pack line is designed around the Master C-Block 24/4 Filler and Seamer, supplied by CFT Australasia. This 24 head rotary canning line will lift our canning output from 65 cans per minute to 250 cans per minute (an increase of around 250%).

In addition, the new system delivers significant product quality benefits through a reduction in dissolved oxygen levels during canning and precision fill level control.

You can read all about it here.

April: Launch of AWOL Barrel Aged Beer & Taproom

On 10 April we were super stoked to launch our newest brewing venture, the AWOL barrel-aging facility and dedicated barrel aged beer taproom in Burleigh Heads.

Since visiting some of the best barrel aged breweries in America in 2018, it was a dream of ours to open our own and after two years of planning and preparation we were super stoked to throw open the doors to Queensland’s first dedicated barrel aged beer taproom

We have over 100 white wine, red wine, gin, bourbon and whiskey barrels, each filled with beers in various stages of fermentation, with eight beers pouring on tap and a range of 4 pack options for sale in our online store.

If you’d like to learn more about the background of the project, check out the post on our Blog.

April: Riding The East Coast Haze Wave

In late April we added a new beer to the Black Hops core range, an easy drinking 4.5% Hazy Pale Ale called East Coast Haze, a beer inspired by our hometown of the Gold Coast – the place we live and love.

In addition to its new uniquely branded can design, we also went all-out in showcasing East Coast Haze through a range of marketing and promotional strategies well beyond our normal reliance on organic reach.

We felt the timing was right for a lower ABV hazy and we’re pleased to say that our gut feel in going with this beer was proved correct, as ECH has gone on to become our second best selling beer nationally.

The story behind the beer involves an interesting journey, which you can read about in this post.

May: 5 AIBA Gold Medals

The Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA’s) were back again in 2021, and we headed down to Melbourne on 20 May to represent as part of a growing Queensland contingent of craft breweries.

The AIBA’s have been going for over 25 years and are the largest annual draft and packaged beer competition in the world, attracting around 2,600 entries from more than 400 breweries in 26 countries.

We’ve managed to walk away with gold medals for our beers at every AIBA awards ceremony we’ve entered since 2016 and this year we came away with another 5 gold medals.

Here are the Black Hops beers that won gold medals:

  • Beach House (3rd AIBA gold)
  • Send It (our first AIBA gold)
  • Pink Mist (gold for our first AWOL entry, 3rd gold for Pink Mist)
  • G.O.A.T (2nd AIBA gold)
  • Code Red (3rd AIBA gold)

From our point of view getting any medal at the AIBA’s is a great achievement for a brewery. Brewing beer to style is a show of quality and consistency and we love the opportunity to submit our beers to the beer judges each year.

We also had a bunch of our beers take home silver and bronze medals. Check out our blog post to find out more.

June: Celebrating Our 5th Birthday at Burleigh HQ

In June Black Hops HQ in Burleigh Heads hit the five year milestone and we threw a party to celebrate on 19 June.

We brewed 5 strictly limited release beers to mark the occasion:

  • Shades Of Blue: Choc Blueberry Mudcake Imperial Stout
  • Kiwi Fruit Soup: Feijoa & Kiwi Fruited NZ Hopped Hazy IPA
  • Kick Out The Jams: Dark Fruit Dark Sour
  • Cool Runnings: Tropical Stout
  • Starting 5: 5 Hopped West Coast IPA

July: Taking On The Kokoda Challenge

On 17 July eleven fearless Black Hops foot soldiers accepted the daunting mission of completing the Kokoda Challenge, taking on a 48 kilometre test of endurance and resilience through the Gold Coast hinterland. The event is held annually to honour the Australian diggers who fought in 1942 along the arduous Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea during World War II, as well as serving as a vital fundraising tool for the Kokoda Youth Foundation (KYF).

After an epic fifteen hour trek our 11 staffers made it over the finish line united as one, at 2:00am on Sunday morning in the chilly darkness. There were plenty of delirious minds and sore bodies at the end of the trek (and in the days afterwards). But the sense of camaraderie and satisfaction in completing the course was a source of great reward, honouring the courage and endurance of the original Kokoda warriors.

For their efforts the team managed to raise $3,800 for the Kokoda Youth Foundation charity. You can read more about the crew’s intrepid adventures here.

October: Launch Of Home Guard Beer Club

On 15 October we officially launched Home Guard, an exclusive beer club for lovers of fresh and limited release Black Hops Beers. The concept ties in with our bi-monthly limited release beers, which this year has seen us put out limited batches of previous favourites such as Super G.O.A.T., Neverland and Caribbean Haze, as well as new releases like Hop Swap and Afterburner.

For $45 per month Home Guard conscripts receive a box of Black Hops goodies, delivered every two months and coinciding with the bi-monthly release of each new Limited Release beer. New members start out with a Welcome Pack, containing an exclusive Home Guard craft beer glass, sticker and t shirt.

With our first Home Guard intake limited to only 250 spaces, to say that we were blown out of the water by the response would be an understatement! When we went live with subscriptions at 9:00am on 15 October our server was swamped due to the high volume of traffic from people wanting to sign up.

We took on another batch of Home Guard customers again in December and we will open it up every 2 months. To be notified in the lead-up to our next intake, head to the Home Guard page and register your details with us.

October: Murder Hornet Goes Top 5 At GABS Can Design Awards

The GABS Can Design Awards are held in recognition of the fine art of designing a killer craft beer can. This year over 140 breweries entered and our 2021 entry was for our limited release Murder Hornet Black IPA can, designed for our Burleigh Taproom 4th birthday celebrations by legendary designer Dave Heavyside.

To narrow the field down to a top ten of finalists the public got to vote on their favourite can art – check out this link to see the amazing designs that were in the running. Once the votes were tallied we were stoked to finish once again as a top 10 finalist, making it 2 years in a row (last year our Moondancer IPA can, with the iconic Hopman character, finished top ten.)

From there a judging panel came up with the final rankings and we managed to finish in fifth position! To read more on the design process and how we settled on the final, ‘scarier’ look and feel for the can, check out our blog post.

And while it mighn’t come in the iconic can, the barrel aged version of Murder Hornet Black IPA is pouring at our AWOL barrel aged beer taproom in Burleigh.

November: More Birthday Milestones

In November we celebrated the first birthday of our Black Hops Brisbane brewery and taproom. We brewed the following beers especially for the occasion:

  • Manilla Vanilla: Nitro Vanilla Ice Cream Ale
  • Why So Sour: Blood Orange Sour
  • Chilla On Manilla: Cold IPA

In addition, November marked the seven year anniversary that Black Hops founders first launched the concept of Black Hops via Eddie’s original Eggnog Stout recipe, with the first Black Hops launch party on 2 November 2014 at HooHa Bar in South Brisbane.

November: BH Recognised as One of Australia’s Fastest Growing Companies

For the past 31 years respected business publication The Australian Financial Review (AFR) have published their Fast 100 and Fast Starters lists, in recognition of the fastest growing businesses and startups in Australia over the previous 12 months.

This was our first year of being eligible for the Fast 100 list, so we were stoked to be recognised as #24 in this year’s honour roll of fastest growing Australian companies!

With half of this year’s growth rates impacted by the pandemic we were especially delighted with the result, with well diversified businesses and those from the ecommerce sector making up a large proportion of this years’ top 100 list.

Being recognised as one of Australia’s fastest growing companies gives us immense pride about the journey we’ve been on, ever since we started out as three mates giving this brewing caper a red hot crack and sharing everything we’ve learnt along the way.

To read more, go here.

December: Expansion of BHII

In December 2021 we took over the remainder of the connected sheds at Black Hops II, increasing our footprint to over 4,000sqm. Once the new canning line is in, we will re-visit our needs and possibly sub-lease out some of the space. However securing the space means we have a huge amount of future growth potential at our disposal.

December: 24 Reasons To Celebrate The Indies

The annual Australian Independent Beer Awards (aka The Indies) is Australia’s largest independent beer competition and provides an opportunity for brewers to benchmark their beers while recognising excellence within the brewing industry.

On the evening of Thursday, 25 November a Black Hops contingent got along to the Brisbane party locale, at Easy Times Brewing in Woolloongabba.

With the judging panel assessing over a thousand beers, we knew that getting a gong on the night wasn’t going to be easy. So at the conclusion of a boisterous night we were stoked to walk away with a Black Hops record haul of 24 medals.

Our two Gold Medal beers on the night were for Ichibaan (a Koji Gose created by our brewing legend Toshi) and AWOL Pink Mist (a barrel aged Raspberry Saison and also a 3 time AIBA gold medal winner). Both these beers are firm favourites with our customers and staff and we were very proud that they were recognised for excellence within the industry. A big shout-out to our entire production team for their tireless efforts in the pursuit of making the best beer we can.

Go here for a full rundown of our results.

December: BH Enters the NFT Realm

In December we announced the launch of the Black Hops Beta Team, an exclusive meeting point for like-minded individuals with a passion for beer, cryptocurrency, NFTs and Web3.

To kick off the launch of the Beta Team, Black Hops have commenced two NFT centric projects. The first of these revolves around a new beer to launch on New Years Eve, a Choc Banana Stout, with the can designed around the NFT OnChain Monkey #5073. It will also coincide with Black Hops’ first ever NFT, a limited release Monkey Business can mockup, which will be available to all Beta Team members for a limited time. OnChain Monkey (OCM) is an early NFT project with a charitable mission. Black Hops will support the mission by donating ​​$1 from every can of Monkey Business sold to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.

The second project will see the release of 1,000 unique Hopman NFT tokens, each a unique take on the Hopman character originally made famous by the limited release Black Hops beer, Moondancer Hazy IPA.

To find out more about these projects and to join the Discord Server and be part of the Beta Team club, head on over to the Black Hops website.

Bring on 2022

There have been some tricky moments in 2021 and I’m sure 2022 will be no different, but we’re stoked to be kicking of another eventful year at Black Hops. Cheers for the support as always.

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