Monday, October 17, 2016


Our time in Adelaide was all about the beer. This was because we travelled there for the Australian National Homebrewing Conference (ANHC). Him Outdoors had a beer and a mead which had got through to the national competitions, and was also there as a judge (not for the categories in which he was represented, obviously). 

I volunteered as a steward, which meant I had a couple of tables to look after - supplying the judges them with water and crackers, bringing them the beers and score sheets, and handing in the sheets when they were ready. It's very serious business, reminding me a bit of exams, when the invigilator walked around with hands behind back, a permanent frown and the occasional immensely off-putting tut.

ANHC5 Judging at the German Club
My tables - cider (on the left) and mead
The mead judges - "The next person who brews a vanilla and cinnamon; I will punch in the face."
Him Outdoors judging the IPAs with Brad (Left Barrel Brewing) and Mitch Steele (ex-Stone Brewing)
After the beer judging was over, we had a coach trip to Coopers Brewery, still the largest Australian-owned brewery, selling approximately 80 million litres of beer, and still only 5% of the beer market. It's a pretty big-scale operation, with lots of shiny bling, and brewery equipment to get Him Outdoors drooling.

Coopers has it's own electricity power plant, which it uses to fuel its operation and it feeds any surplus back into the national grid. When South Australia had massive power outages in September, Dr Tim continued working in his office, and it was only when he drove home and noticed that the traffic lights weren't working that he realised something was wrong.

Coopers Brewhouse mash filter

Reverse osmosis plant
Bottling line at Coopers
Back at the museum/ gift shop
The taste test at the end of the tour
Next stop was BrewBoys where we had a Hoppasaisawatamas (Hoppy IPA made particularly fruity by using a saison yeast - very nice); an Ace of Spades (smooth sweet stout with flavours of raisins and chocolate) and a Seeing Double (divine and delicious smooth wee heavy with the softest of peated malt aroma and flavour).

We finished off the evening at The Wheatsheaf; one of the best pubs in the country with an absolutely fantastic beerlist.

Leafy Team Oz from Wheaty Brewing Corps
Red Truck Porter from Lobethal Bierhaus
Like rockstars at a music festival
All the talks were held at The Hilton, Adelaide. Not only is this a good central venue, but the atrium ceiling is very pretty. 

We began with Mitch Steele giving a talk about IPA and how it has altered through the ages, changing greatly in style from its origins. Assistants wheeled around trolleys of samples so that we could sensorially appreciate his descriptions. 

It seems in IPA (as in many things) Americans have taken something traditional, altered it almost beyond recognition, and claim their version as the best (if not the only). Bigger is better, apparently. The rest of the world, beaten into submission by their arrogance and aggressive media domination, meekly agrees. 

Mitch Steele talking all things IPA
Is this the best hostess trolley ever?
The next talk was All Things Coopers, at which Dr Tim Cooper, managing director and head brewer at Coopers, spoke passionately about his company. He comes across as a charmingly eccentric character with a ready laugh and a sense of defiance. 

At the breaks (or Acid rests, as they were beerily called) there were more samples of beer, and food provided. We sampled. 

I returned after lunch for talks about Belgian brewing; the history from Stan Hieronymus, and the style from Bert Van Hecke, who is delightfully bonkers and potentially my new favourite Belgian (everyone should have one). 

Sage advice from Bert Van Hecke
There followed a panel discussion talk about Homebrewers Gone Pro. The participants included someone who set up their own company and distribution, someone who established a brewpub, and someone who works for commercial breweries.

In the evening we gathered for the Gala Dinner Awards Night at the Adelaide Town Hall. It was all very swish.

And Him Outdoors won Best Mead of the competition, which makes him the top amateur brewer of mead in the country. His cinnamon and vanilla cyser (mead made from apples and honey) scored 46 points (out of a possible 50) from the judges.

His was the second highest score of all the entries into the Australian Amateur Brewing Championship (after Miko Pludra's fruit beer), and he missed taking home the trophy for the Champion Beer of Show by 0.667 of a point. He also got a gold medal for his curry beer, which came fifth in the specialty beer category (which was won by the Champion Beer of Show).

1st Place!
Other ACT winners included Stephen Lawford (second in the strong ale category for an English-style barley wine), Bill Swancott (second in the IPA category) and Ben Harmer (second in the mead category).

Canberra Homebrewing champions
After the dinner we kicked on to a couple of pubs across town, ending up at Nola, where there was a fine selections of drinks, including Nitro Oatmeal Stout from Founders (very smooth and tasty with a touch of roastiness), and Hawkers IPA (really rich and fruity with smooth-tasting hops). 

I know this may sound churlish, but I will once again point out how frustrated I get by sexism in the brewing industry. Women make up half the population and many of us like to drink beer. What we do not like is casual, childish sexism, so whereas you may think 'I tapped Nola' is a witty slogan to wear on your t-shirt, we think it is base and crass.

Nice beer; shame about the sexism

Here are just a few bits of street art I noted on my walk between the hotel and the conference venue over a couple of days.

After a swim in the rooftop hotel pool, we continued the next day with more talks, more samples and more tasty food. I learned about specialty malting, toasted oats, mixed fermentation, different styles of mead making, and that not all macarons are created equal.

Honey wars with Steve Kirby from Stonedog and Sean Johnson from Erosion
Sweet success
Before now I have just thought of them as wet cardboard
And in the evening we went along to Club Night, where the brewers dressed up as Ghostbusters, and dispensed beer from their specially built (by Patrick Baggoley) backpacks. 
Who ya gonna call?

And then a wedding party arrived to have their reception at the Hilton (as you do), and because it's bad form to say no to the bride...

A fairly original wedding photo?
Costume detail - no bad beer

Other brewers also competed for best club bar and theme at the event...


...but they really didn't stand a chance. The Canberra Brewers won hands down and received their prize (a kegerator), which was presented by Barry Morgan and his world of organs, which is an Adelaide thing, apparently.

I found this lady in this great Bjork swan dress. 

And the Canberra Brewers were able to relax in their prize-winning outfits. 

No comments:

Post a Comment