It might be the world’s largest competition in its field but one of Australia’s smallest producers has once again claimed its major prize as Ballarat’s Dollar Bill Brewing won its second Champion Beer trophy in three years at the 2023 Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA).

Having won the same prize in 2021 for their Gold Teeth wild ale, this year’s win for the barrel aged cherry sour Candy Paint (2023) was a feat to match the occasion as the AIBA – rated as the world’s largest annual awards that judge both draft and packaged beers – celebrated its 30th anniversary with a sell-out audience at Victoria Pavilion at the Melbourne Showgrounds.

And they all rose to applaud Dollar Bill’s Ed and Fiona Nolle as they went on stage for a third and final time on the night to accept the major overall title after Candy Paint had earlier scored the Best Fruit Beer trophy and to accept the Best Gypsy Brewer award for the second year running.

Speaking to Beer & Brewer Ed and Fiona said 2021 was “a miracle” but that this year was “even better”.

“We knew it was a really tasty beer,” Ed said. “We were looking for some exceptional cherry expression, and even though it was a difficult season for Victorian cherry growers it really delivered. It’s just beautiful.”

Fiona added: “The best thing for us is that we put in a lot, I mean a lot, of time into this and for then someone to turn around and say ‘you’re doing OK, keep pedaling’ – it’s just magic.”

Telling us it was “their best vintage yet”, Dollar Bill described Candy Paint 2023 as “a two year barrel-aged pseudo Lambic rested on sour cherries” where “hints of brettanomyces and deep lactic acidity intertwine with malic acid and fresh cherry flavours”. Back in our Winter 2022 magazine we rated that year’s vintage as one of our top beers for the season, even going as far to call it “better than a certain world famous Kriek”.

After judging a record 2,826 entries from over 400 exhibitors from 21countries, the other major award on the night – the Champion International Beer trophy – went to NBeer Craft Brewing from Sichuan, China for their Lindongjiangzhi Weizenbock, which also took out Best Wheat Beer. NBeer had previously won the AIBA trophy for Champion Medium International Brewery back in 2021.

Champion Medium Australian Brewery and Champion Victorian Brewery trophies were awarded to Glen Iris’ Deeds Brewing, which also won Best Specialty Beer for its Ruminations farmhouse ale and Best Specialty Flavoured Beer for the Bourbon Barrel Aged Peanut Butter Imperial Stout.

After winning Champion Victorian Brewery amongst such a competitive field, founders Dave Milstein and Pat Alé told Beer & Brewer they were extremely proud of the achievement.

“I think we entered seven beers, so not a huge amount, but obviously a good amount. It’s been a real team effort – but nothing at all what we were expecting.”

Joining their fellow Victorians in the winner’s circle were Mountain Goat who won Champion Large Australian Brewery after also achieving the feat back in 2018 as well as Best Wood And Barrel Aged Beer for their Hightail XXV dark ale – a barrel aged 10.2% nod to their first ever beer.

It wouldn’t be a major Australian beer awards without serial achievers Moffat Beach Brewing winning at least something and the Sunshine Coasters didn’t disappoint as they backed up their Champion Small Australian Brewery title from last year while their Shadow of the Moon Eclipse Strong Pale Ale claimed the award for Best International Style Pale Ale.

The major IPA trophies all headed to NSW breweries this year with Ballina’s Seven Mile Brewing’s West Coast IPA winning Best Traditional India Pale Ale while regular AIBA winners Philter from Marrickville won Best Modern India Pale Ale for their Haze hazy IPA. Philter were also awarded two Consistency of Excellence Medals* – for their XPA and IIPA.

Meanwhile, Kiwis took out all three of the major international brewery awards with Garage Project winning Champion Large International Brewery, Behemoth Champion Medium International and Three Sisters Champion Small International.

You can find a list of all the major winners below and medal results can be found here.

In a statement Melbourne Royal CEO Brad Jenkins said: “The growth of the Melbourne Royal Australian International Beer Awards has been extraordinary.

“Since the award’s inception in 1993, to grow from 128 entries to now receiving a record number of entrants in our 30th year, from brewers from every continent other than Antarctica, illustrates the prestige the awards are now held in.

“Heartfelt congratulations to all the winners of medals and trophies, there’s nothing quite like winning at the world’s largest annual beer competition.

“We are immensely grateful for the extraordinary support received from the beer industry, and we extend our thanks to our major partners and sponsors who make these awards possible.”

Trophy winners

Champion Australian Beer
Dollar Bill Brewing, Victoria
Candy Paint 2023 (Packaged)
Champion International Beer
NBeer Craft Brewing Co, Sichuan, China
Lindongjiangzhi Weizenbock (Packaged)
Champion Large Australian Brewery
Mountain Goat Beer, Victoria
Champion Large International Brewery
Garage Project Brewery, Wellington, New Zealand
Champion Medium Australian Brewery
Deeds Brewing, Victoria
Champion Medium International Brewery
Behemoth Brewing Company, Auckland, New Zealand
Champion Small Australian Brewery
Moffat Beach Brewing Co, Queensland
Champion Small International Brewery
Three Sisters Brewery, Taranaki, New Zealand
Champion Victorian Brewery
Deeds Brewing
Gary Sheppard Memorial Trophy For The Best New Exhibitor
Boundary Island Brewery, Western Australia
Australian Gypsy Brewer Award
Dollar Bill Brewing, Victoria
Best Australian Style Lager
King Road Brewing Co, Western Australia
King Road Lager (Draught)
Best European Style Lager (Excluding Pilsner)
Aunty Jacks, Victoria, Australia
Mair St Märzen (Draught)
Best International Lager
Kirin Brewery Company, Limited, Kanagawa, Japan
Spring Valley Hojun 496 (Packaged)
Best Pilsner
Hemingway’s Brewing Company, Queensland
The Prospector (Draught)
Best Amber/Dark Lager
Co-Conspirators Brewing, Victoria
The Nightcrawler (Draught)
Best Australian Style Pale Ale
Reckless Brewing Co, New South Wales
XPA (Draught)
Best Modern Pale Ale
Esker/Australian Brewery, New South Wales
Esker Hazy Pale (Draught)
Best International Style Pale Ale
Moffat Beach Brewing Co, Queensland
Shadow Of The Moon Eclipse Strong Pale Ale (Draught)
Best British or European Style Ale (Excluding India Pale Ale & Pale Ale)
Margaret River Brewhouse, Western Australia
Margaret River Kolsch (Draught)
Best Traditional India Pale Ale
Seven Mile Brewing Co, New South Wales
West Coast IPA (Packaged)
Best Modern India Pale Ale
Philter Brewing, New South Wales
Haze (Draught)
Best Amber/Dark Ale
Hop Nation, Victoria
The Buzz (Draught)
Best Porter/Stout
Blackman’s Brewing, Victoria
Arthur Smoked Porter (Packaged)
Best Reduced/Low Alcohol Beer
Revel Brewing Company, Queensland
The Reveller (Packaged)
Best Non-Alcohol Beer
Samuel Adams Brewery, MA, United States
Samuel Adams Gold Rush (Packaged)
Best Wheat Beer
NBeer Craft Brewing Co, Sichuan, China
Lindongjiangzhi Weizenbock (Packaged)
Best Belgian/French Ale
Holgate Brewhouse, Victoria
Sour Brett Ale (Packaged)
Best Fruit Beer
Dollar Bill Brewing, Victoria
Candy Paint 2023 (Packaged)
Best Wood And Barrel Aged Beer
Mountain Goat Beer, Victoria
Hightail XXV (Packaged)
Best Specialty Beer
Deeds Brewing, Victoria
Ruminations (Packaged)
Best Specialty Flavoured Beer
Deeds Brewing, Victoria
BBA Peanut Butter Imperial Stout (Packaged)
Best Design – Label/Surface Graphic
Endeavour – Pinnacle Drinks, New South Wales
Golden Pipes Brewing Auguste’s Underground Hazy Pale Ale
Best Design – Outer Packaging
Shiner Beers, Texas, United States
Shiner Orale
Best Media
Mick Wüst, Queensland
Consistency of Excellence Medals*
Coopers Brewery, South Australia
Coopers Original Pale Ale (Packaged)
Hawkers Beer, Victoria
Hawkers Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine (Packaged)
Philter Brewing, New South Wales
Philter XPA (Packaged)
Philter IIPA (Draught)
Rebellion Brewing, Victoria
O’Brien Brown Ale (Packaged)
Sydney Brewery, New South Wales
Lager (Draught)

*This medal acknowledges exhibits of the same label that have been awarded a gold medal at the Australian International Beer Awards for three consecutive years (2021, 2022 and 2023). To be eligible, exhibits need to have been submitted in the same format, ie. packaged or draught, under the same label and in the same style Class each year.

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