By James Atkinson
Some of the country's leading brewers have joined in welcoming the appointment of Brad Rogers as chief judge of the new-look Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA).
Stone & Wood founder Rogers replaces Peter Manders, the former CUB master brewer who served in the role since 2005.
Manders is unlikely to be missed by some of the industry's more unconventional brewers, who felt he was out of touch with modern trends in craft brewing, particularly in the light of his recent comments on TheShout.
But Rogers' appointment has been welcomed by all sectors of the industry.
Chuck Hahn of Lion's Malt Shovel Brewery told TheShout that Rogers has the ideal judging background, having been an educated winemaker and then working for a larger brewer for a period of time before starting up his own craft brewery.
"He is knowledgeable in brewing for flavour, but also respects the total quality and consistency aspects of larger brewing operations," he said.
Hahn, who has judged at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) for 20 years, welcomed the related news that the AIBA will be enhanced to reflect current brewing practices and trends.
"The number of categories being judged [in the GABF] has increased each year with over 90 categories being judged this year," he said.
"We have slowly followed those developments in Australia, and it is very important that the most prestigious of our beer awards, the AIBA, reflects that progress and is able to reward the brewers appropriately."
Neal Cameron, of the Australian Brewery, said the beer scene is evolving rapidly and the committee and the stewardship of the AIBA needs to change with the times.
"I've done quite a bit of judging with Brad and he has that perfect divide between the more mainstream beers and the craft community, so I can't think of anybody better," he said.
Young Henrys' Richard Adamson said that Rogers himself has created many beers that don't fit neatly into defined categories, so his appointment was "great news".
"As a brewer who uses all manner of different ingredients and doesn't necessarily follow the style guidelines, it's great to see a like-minded creative brewer at the helm," he said.
Ben Kraus, of Bridge Road Brewers, said Rogers was "the right man for the job".
"I am sure that with the change in chief judge things will change significantly, in terms of judges present and how beer is assessed and scores given."
"I personally would like to see the way in which beers are presented, currently one at a time without the opportunity to taste again, changed to a more comparable format where beers can be reviewed and even tasted alongside each other," he added.