Australia’s best independent beer for 2021 is officially Blasta Brewing Co’s – Blastaweizen.
The Perth brewery’s German-style wheat beer won out from 1389 beers from 180 breweries to take the top gong, in the largest ever Australian Independent Beer Awards (The Indies).
‘Blasta’ derives from Scottish Gaelic which translates to delicious and ‘weizen’ is the German word for wheat.
Blasta Brewing Co is the creation of Scottish born engineer by trade, Steven Russell who with investors owns the business as well as operating it and brewing the beer. He developed a passion for brewing after his wife-to-be gifted him a home brewing kit for Christmas in 2015.
Just two years later he had his own brewhouse. In 2017, Mr Russell told Crafty Pint: “We now have our Burswood brewhouse, which will have a 23,000 hectolitre capacity; [the system is] on order form the US. We’ll also have seven fermentation vessels, two [bright brewery tanks] and a cool room with a capacity to hold quite a substantial number of kegs. At our Burswood venue we’ll be able to sell fresh beer on site as well as supplying beer to bars around Perth. We’ll have a canning line too.”
In the same interview, he shared his aspirations for the brewery: “I’d love to see Blasta as a staple of the WA community. If people then are still saying Blasta beers are as good now as they were then, that’s good enough for me.”
Four years on from then, Mr Russell has achieved that goal and more. In addition to taking home the Champion Independent Beer, Blasta also picked up the trophy for Champion Western Australia Brewery for the second year in a row.
Queensland breweries picked up the most trophies of the night at the Indies, with five out of 13 Champion and Class trophies but it was a high success rate across the board, with 75 per cent of entries receiving a medal.
Other big winners on the night were Stomping Ground Brewing Co (Melbourne) for Champion Large Brewery, Moffat Beach Brewing Co (Sunshine Coast) for Champion Medium/Small Brewery, and Future Mountain Brewing & Blending (Melbourne) for Champion Brewpub.
The awards are presented by the Independent Brewers Association (IBA). Richard Adamson, IBA Chair, said both the number entries and medals was incredible after a tough 18 months.
“It shows that quality is on the up for indie beer, which is great for everyone,” Mr Adamson said.
“I think it’s amazing that we can get a record number of entries given the challenging circumstances faced by most breweries this year, especially considering the many lockdowns and limitations with production.”
It’s the second year the awards have been live streamed due to COVID uncertainty. This year it broadcast from 10 official live cross parties around Australia, and other celebrations in taprooms and bars throughout the country.
Kylie Lethbridge, IBA Chief Executive Officer, said it was such a special night, and it is great to feel like the whole IBA team is part of each celebration, even though we couldn’t be together as an industry after yet another difficult year.
“I am positive that 2022 will see us finally being able to be in the same place at the same time for the Indies Awards, but the virtual ceremony is certainly a brilliant way to ensure that our members and industry stakeholders have a chance to party and to raise a toast to indie beer and the brewers who excelled this year,” Ms Lethbridge said.
And it’s not only beer that was toasted, with five Peer Nominated Awards also handed out over the course of the evening; including the Lifetime Achievement Award, to David Cryer, founder of Cryer Malt for his hard work helping grow the Australian and New Zealand beer industries over the last 30 years.
Champion Independent Beer: Blasta Brewing Co – Blastaweizen, Western Australia
Champion Large Brewery: Stomping Ground Brewing Co, Victoria
Champion Medium/Small Brewery – Moffat Beach Brewing Co, Queensland
Champion Brewpub – Future Mountain Brewing & Blending, Victoria
Champion New South Wales Brewery – Philter Brewing (pictured right)
Champion Victorian Brewery – Stomping Ground Brewing Co
Champion Queensland Brewery – Moffat Beach Brewing Co
Champion South Australian Brewery – Vale Brewing
Champion Western Australian Brewery – Blasta Brewing Co
Champion Tasmanian Brewery – Moo Brew
Champion ACT/Northern Territory Brewery – Capital Brewing Co
PEER NOMINATED AWARDS
Service to the Industry – Steve Jeffares & Guy Greenstone (Stomping Ground Brewing Co)
Young Gun of the Year – Stephanie Howard (Cryer Malt)
Community Initiative – Hospofam
True Indie Supporter – Grain & Grape Yarraville
Lifetime Achievement Award – David Cryer (Cryer Malt)