The International Brewing & Cider Awards has announced this year’s medal winners where BentSpoke Brewing Co was the only Australian brewery to be recognised, taking home not one but two gold medals.

Of the 67 brewers and cidermakers that received accolades, only 30 beers and 13 ciders were awarded gold medals. BentSpoke received gold medals for its Barley Griffin in the International Ale category and for FreeWheeler in the International No- and Low-Alcohol Beer Category.

For Rich Watkins, Co-Founder and Head Brewer, receiving gold two medals at the International Brewing & Cider Awards is a remarkable feat.

“It’s one of the longest standing beer awards in the world, I think it even dates back to the 19th century, so it’s got a lot of prestige about it. It’s a unique competition in the way it’s judged in that the categories are based on alcohol.

“It’s a unique process judged by really esteemed judges so we’re pretty stoked with getting two gold medals. It’s another one of these competitions where only those first past the post get a gold, silver and bronze award, and maybe not even in all categories if the quality isn’t there. They’re not handing out lots of gold and silver awards, so it really does mean something to get a gold medal.”

Tracy Margrain, Co-Founder and Brewer at BentSpoke’s BrewPub in Braddon, said the team are extremely proud of the great beers that they brew.

“Barley Griffin has now won multiple awards in this longstanding competition which is an amazing result for a little brewery in Australia. And FreeWheeler getting a gold medal is also a fabulous result for BentSpoke.”

The last twelve months have seen the Canberra brewery collect a number of accolades, such as the award for Best Independent Craft Beer at the Australian Liquor Industry Awards (ALIA) and an AHA Award for Excellence for its Braddon venue.

The popular BentSpoke Crankshaft IPA also maintained its position in third place on the 2024 GABS Hottest 100 list, marking its seventh year on the top three podium, and Watkins believes these types of industry accolades have a positive impact on the brewery’s market presence.

“We’ve been lucky enough to win quite a few awards now, which I’m pretty chuffed about. Especially at the International Brewing Awards, because I believe we’re the first brewery in the world to actually win back-to-back gold medals in the same class with our Barley Griffin, and now it’s just won another.

“It’s a real credible result for the brewery and a testament to the hard work that our brewery team puts into making quality beer.”

According to Watkins, the brewery’s continued success ultimately boils down to its attention to detail. From the selection of raw ingredients through to the packaging of the beer, the brewery is meticulous in every step along the way.

“It’s about working really hard, putting good systems in place and focusing on the detail. There are so many things that go into making a good beer, but there’s also a lot of things that can go into ruining a good beer,” he says.

“For us, we’ve built our brand around quality beer and that’s what we focus really heavily on, and we’re pretty proud of what we’ve been able to achieve in our 10th year.”

With the brewery’s 10th birthday coming up in June, BentSpoke fans can expect some new products to be released around that time, along with the release of a popular beer in canned format even sooner.

“When Tracy and I first started BentSpoke back in 2014, we came on-site on Good Friday and brewed our first beer. We aptly named it Dick Tracy and we’ve been brewing that beer every year for 10 years. We come in on Good Friday and brew that beer and release it towards the end of April, and this year for the first time we’re going to be putting it into cans,” Watkins added.

Recognition for brewers and cidermakers around the world

At the 2024 International Brewing & Cider Awards, which took place for in Manchester for the first time in its 138-year history, 21 different countries received accolades.

Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to 115 beers and ciders, and alongside Australian brewery Bentspoke, winners also hailed from Cambodia, China, Czech Republic, Finland, Norway, Taiwan, Thailand, USA and the UK.

Of the 30 beers that took home a gold medal, half went to British brewers, nine from the Far East and six from Japan, while five of the 13 cider gold awards were given to cidermakers from the USA.

Ruth Evans MBE, Director of the International Brewing & Cider Awards, said: “It’s been an honour to recognise and celebrate the extraordinary beers and ciders across the world at our new home here in Manchester.

“We support the brewing and cidermaking industry on a not-for-profit basis, and the Awards has a long and rich history championing the best beers and ciders going into market.

“We’re thrilled to be able to continue to provide a platform to reward the best beers and ciders with the recognition they so truly deserve. And for the first time ever expand to launch our Festival, providing the public a chance to sample these award-winning drinks from the most extensive collection of international beers and cider in Europe.”

Judging, which took place over three days in March, saw brewers and cidermakers’ products evaluated by a 38-strong panel of internationally acclaimed and commercially practicing international brewers and cidermakers, led by Chair of Beer Judging Rob McCaig and Chair of Cider Judging Gabe Cook.

Commenting on the outstanding quality of beers submitted at this year’s awards, McCaig said: “This year proved to be one of the toughest yet to determine which of the beers were deserving of a medal. We had an exceptional amount of great quality beers enter this year, making the job of our judging panel extremely difficult. It’s a shame we couldn’t award more medals, as there were so many beers that were deserving of the accolade – some of which narrowly missed out. 

“We saw a significant increase in entries in the No- and Low-Alcohol category, which reflects the growing demand in the industry, and also saw an influx of international brewers enter the Smallpack Ale category, which is very promising. Historically, this category has often been dominated by the UK, but this year saw the inclusion of breweries from Japan, North America and South America.”   

Cook also felt that the incredible global range was reflected in cider entries.

“This has undoubtably been the most difficult competition to judge – the quality of ciders has been truly, so high. It’s great to see that cidermakers have been upping their game on the quality, and those that were awarded a medal in their category is a recognition truly deserved,” he said.

“We have seen a lot of fun and playful ciders being entered into the Open Class, which provides cidermakers with a bit of freedom to do something a little different, which is always nice to see.”  

Each of the gold, silver and bronze medal winners will be celebrated at an official awards ceremony on Wednesday 1 May at the Guildhall in London, when 12 trophy winners will also be announced.

This year’s International Brewing & Cider Awards was accompanied by a two-day public festival for the first time, giving members of the public the opportunity to sample beers and ciders that had been entered into the competition, including award-winners.

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