Perth Royal Beer Show – 1/9/16

On the back of my last post, where I touched on the big beer awards in Melbourne, (AIBA), this month we are talking Perth Royal Beer Show. In its tenth year, 618 entries from 171 amateur and 48 commercial entrants were meticulously judged for appearance, aroma, flavour, style and technical quality.


This year I was welcomed as an associate judge, which is like being a regular judge but with the training wheels on, taking points from your more experienced peers, 6 panels of judges assess the exhibits over two full days, for a maximum score of 20. The head of my panel was Warren Pawsey, head brewer of Little Creatures Geelong, and Chief Judge of the most recent AIBA in Melbourne, joined by Ian Kingham of the Australian Cicerone Certification Program, Head/only Brewer of Last Drop Jan Bruckner, and two other associates. A diverse bunch, from home brewers, pro brewers, beer writers and beer enthusiasts, everyone involved is an integral part of the process, equally if not more important than the judges, are the stewards. Stewards have the responsibility of presenting each sample in accordance with principals of the program, under the direction of Chief Steward Nevill Alexander, just one of the committee members for the Royal Ag’ Society who organise and bring the whole show together. Exhibits are presented blind to category in what is known as flights, a number of entries between say 1 and 15 at a time, 5 minutes being considered a more than reasonable amount of time to judge each beer. Samples are only about 100mls though you limit yourself to less especially where Imperial IPA’s and Stouts are concerned as, on average it’s around 50 exhibits per day, (though I heard this one panel did 72). At the end of each flight, a short concise discussion is had within the panel to determine Gold, (17 points and upward), Silver, (15.5 to 16.9), or Bronze, (14 to 15.4 points).

blog2 Now two full days of tasting beer amongst some industry super stars, some of whom were fresh of the plane from the Australian Craft Beer Industry Awards in Brisbane or had come from over east specifically, sounds pretty freaking magical, but believe it or not, it’s hard work. Although there’s the Awards Presentation Dinner and the Exhibitors Tasting to look forward to, I find myself looking further ahead to when it’s all over so I can get some good rest, and get back to making some quality beer, with my new found insight. The awards presentation dinner, is held the Friday following judging, this year at the Perth Entertainment Centre, always a great excuse to don a suit or dress or whatever you’re into, and mingle with the industry crowd. The previous year’s commercial trophy winners are paired with relevant three course meal, spread across the night following the presentation of best amateur, best commercial and the champion beers and brewers, allowing time to wonder the room and congratulate the trophy winners. A good time is had by all, even the non beer drinkers, escorting their friends or partners, however it could be said that some receiving awards at the end of the night might be having too good a time. Wink.

Finally but not lastly, the exhibitors tasting is Saturday, where the herd is somewhat thinned from the night before and the home brewer is the dominant species in the room, all entrants exhibits are now available for tasting, bottled beer is a free for all, with the commercial draught beers on rotation on the bar. This was the 6th exhibitors tasting I have been to, and it’s always a great opportunity to try new beers and peoples interpretations of styles even if it’s not possible to try them all. Ever since I tried Feral’s Watermelon Warhead the year before I have developed a growing appreciation for sour beers, so my beer of choice for the day was Dale Dawson’s Straight Berliner Weisse, which won Gold in its class, of course the Billabong Wheat Beer, second time Best Commercial Beer of Show, is always good too, just quietly. NBC also did well, receiving Silver for our IPA and Kolsch and Bronze for both our Pale and Wheat beer.

blog1 To close, being a part of the process as a brewer or not, is an opportunity to build and hone skills of assessment, and gain a glimpse of the broader picture of what goes into a beer show.


Almost everyone involved volunteer their time, believe in the integrity of the process, and are favorably approachable, most importantly, I am reminded by the collective passion for beer, that you don’t need a fancy kit to make great product.

Photo credit to Lj Williams and Terry Stainton, thanks guys, I was too busy drinking beer. For more information on the show, including results, or how to get involved, you don’t have to be brewer, you might just love beer, see here:

Next month I will be writing from Europe where my girlfriend and I will be visiting the likes of Westvleteren. Cheers for reading  –my name is Andrew Dean, Assistant Brewer at Northbridge Brewing Company, and I approve this message.