The Indies have undergone a transformation, with independence the key tenet underlying the competition. Other changes include the opening of entries to international brewing companies, as well as a restructure of the competition trophy categories.
“Independence is a word that carries enormous meaning in the consumer beer market,” says IBA chair Ben Kooyman. “Independence communicates the passion, commitment and connection of the brewers and staff to their beer, the beer drinker and the local community.
“The Indies reward excellence and quality in the independent beer market. When a beer carries a medal from ‘The Indies’, a beer drinker can know they are buying a high quality beer from an independent business that works extremely hard to get that beer out there in their hands.”
In 2018, international brewing companies are also eligible to enter The Indies if the beer submitted has Australian distribution and the brewing company can meet the IBA membership criteria, which defines a small independent brewing company as producing less than 40 million litres per annum and is less than 20 per cent owned by a large brewing company.
Katherine McLean, competition manager and head of events for the IBA, says the decision to invite international independent brewing companies is three-fold: it strengthens the global movement toward independence, reflects consumer choice for the beer drinker in Australia and underpins the future growth and relevance of the competition.
“The revision of the awards is the perfect time for bold decisions,” says McLean. “Competition in our industry is healthy. We have started with humble aspirations inviting international brewing companies and no doubt this foundational move will change and grow as the competition grows.
“The Indies will showcase the extraordinary national and international independent beer that is available on the Australian market.”
The Champion Trophy categories have also been restructured; according to the IBA, this will “better reflect the judges’ experience of entered beers”.
For example, in previous iterations of the awards, all French and Belgian styles – from Lambics to Quadruples – had to face off in the Champion French and Belgian Styles category, despite their sensory differences.
“By re-ordering the beers into different categories, we are creating a more level playing field for the entered beer and assisting judges to make excellent decisions when awarding champion trophies,” says Michael Capaldo, a member of the independent think-tank of experienced judges advising the Indies.
2018 Champion Trophy categories:
- Pale Ale
- Amber/Dark Ale
- Hybrid Beer
- India Pale Ale
- European-style Ale
- Session Beer
- Strong Beer
- Mixed Culture Beer
- 3 x Champion Australian Independent Brewery (small, medium, large)
- Champion International Independent Beer
- Champion Australian Independent Beer
Entries to the Indies close on Friday 11 May, 2018. The Awards Ceremony will be held on the evening of Thursday 28 June at Paddington Town Hall in Sydney, concluding Brewcon 2018, the annual brewers conference.
Image credit: The Cusp