By James Atkinson
There are good reasons why the big breweries were dominant in this year's Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA), according to chief judge, Brad Rogers.
Carlton & United Breweries took out two champion trophies at last week's AIBA, while Lion's New Zealand-based Mac's brand won major trophies for Best Australian Style Lager and Best Pilsener, and Coopers for Best Australian Style Pale Ale.
"No matter what people say, there is real interest within those bigger breweries on beer and beer quality," Rogers told TheShout.
"I've worked in the bigger breweries, and when you're in a bigger brewery, you learn how to do things properly, it's as simple as that."
He said the big breweries have in place the "basic building blocks of making beer" that empower their subsidiaries, such as CUB's Matilda Bay, to excel at the more creative styles of brewing.
"When the bigger breweries are winning those trophies, you're going to get a flow-on effect," he said.
CBIA must champion beer quality message
Rogers said it is up to the Craft Beer Industry Association (CBIA) – which he chairs – to ensure the many new microbreweries entering the market are also producing beer that is of high quality.
"We can't allow brewers to produce substandard beers," he said, acknowledging recent comments on the North American experience by Eric Ottaway of Brooklyn Brewery.
"There's a lot of us that have invested a lot of money in breweries, we need to ensure that as we grow, we grow with the right skills," he said.
"We run the risk that if we don't create those tools and skills for those businesses to be able to work from, we're going to get people out there that are potentially making substandard beer.
"I don't think we've got that now, but we need to be on our toes."
Rogers said the inaugural CBIA conference was a resounding success, with more than 220 people attending over two sold out days.
"It was quite an awesome thing to see so many of those people so engaged and so interested, and so willing to actually pay their money and participate," he said.