Local competition fiercer than ever for this year’s beer awards

April 19, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

The Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA) has received the highest number of Australian entries ever with 1781 contenders vying for one of the 35 trophies to be presented on Thursday, 20 May in Victoria.

In their 29th year, the AIBA is the largest annual competition in the world judging both draught and packaged beer and this year it receive 2,495 entries from 373 breweries in 21 countries, including 110 new exhibitors. The number of Australian entries has increased by 140 since the last awards were held in 2019.

Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria CEO Brad Jenkins said: “To have such strong numbers of Australian and international entries this year tells us that despite the many challenges of the past 12 months, the Australian International Beer Awards continue to provide a valuable benchmarking and networking opportunity for brewers from around the world.“

Sixty-seven expert judges will assess the worlds’ best beers and, with the health of AIBA judges, stewards and staff top of mind, the judging panels and stewarding staff will all be from or based in Victoria.

This year’s judges include Ben Kraus (Bridge Road Brewers), Jayne Lewis (Two Birds Brewing), Justin Fox (Hawke’s Brewing Co), Kirrily Waldhorn (Beer Diva), Tina Panoutsos (Carlton & United Breweries), Warren Pawsey (Little Creatures) and Steve “Hendo’ Henderson (Rockstar Brewing). 

Judging will run for an extra day given all judges will be Victorian-based.

In ‘normal times’, the panel is made up of 60-80 judges from around Australia and the world. Of the 80 judges in 2019 , 25% were internationals from countries including New Zealand, USA, Japan, Spain and Hong Kong.

New in 2021, a trophy will be awarded to the Champion Victorian Brewery, judged on the brewery’s top four scoring beers, at least one of which must be a gold medal-winning exhibit. This year saw growth in the categories of Best Traditional IPA and Best Modern IPA, along with a solid 25 entries in the new category of Best Non-Alcohol Beer. 

Judging will take place over four days on 11 – 14 May at Melbourne Showgrounds and the awards will be presented at the Victoria Pavilion at Melbourne Showgrounds.

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