The winners at the Sydney Royal Beer and Cider Show

Staves Brewery in Glebe took the prize for Champion Draught Beer at the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW’s Sydney Royal Beer and Cider Show with its Pale Ale.

In a record-breaking competition for Sydney Royal, Staves Pale Ale overcame 85 other draught beer entries across 15 classes to claim the top award. Steve Drissell, owner and founder of Staves Brewery, told Beer & Brewer that the win was “amazing”.

“We’re such a small brewery and against so much competition, 300 beers in there and lots of gold medals and so on, it’s a quite an achievement for a little brewery that very manual,” he told Beer & Brewer. “We’ve been brewing a pale ale since we opened, but we’ve always been tweaking it to see how we can improve it or make it more interesting.

“We’ve changed the hops around a couple of times. We’re now dry hopping it with a lot more Citra and Galaxy than we used to. We’ve still got some Centennial and Chinook in there as well. We kept experimenting with it until Zac (Pauling, the head brewer) was happy with it.

Staves head brewer Zac Pauling said the award was bigger than him just making beer.

“It’s for anybody who helped me get to where I am today,” Zac Pauling. “Anybody was has leant me raw materials or given me yeast when I forgot to order it, anybody who has just given me a little bit of education, thank you.”

This year’s awards was the first time all Championships have been awarded – including all cider and perry classes. In total, 43 beers claimed Gold medals – the most in the competition’s history – 75 received Silver medals and 79 picked up Bronze medals. Pale Ale was the biggest category

Wayward Brewing Company, from Camperdown, took home Champion Packaged Beer for its Raspberry Berliner Weisse. The Hunter Valley’s Hope Brewery won Champion Experimental or Speciality Beer for the third year in a row with its Barrel Aged Imperial Stout.

Adelaide Hill’s The Hills Cider Company was crowned Champion Cider for its Apple Cider, Napoleone Pear Cider from the Yarra Valley scored Champion Perry, while the Champion Bottle Conditioned Perry or Cider went to Small Acres Cyder from the Central West New South Wales for its 2015 The Cat’s Pyjamas.

“This year’s competition is a true reflection of the current strength of the Australian beer and cider industry and our ability to keep on evolving,” says Samara Fuss, head brewer at Philter and chair of judges. “Being a brewer and being in the industry a long time, I was thrilled to hear all of our judges commenting on the quality of the products entered and the improvement across the board.

“For ciders and perries, we expanded the category to include the use of culinary apples alongside traditional cider apples this year. In this day and age, about 60% of producers are utilising culinary apples in their cider so as a result, we saw an increase in entries and in turn an increase in quality.

“It was a very hard competition and the winners here today really battled it out. Thank you for putting your best foot forward and I congratulate all producers who continue to learn, experiment and refine our craft to deliver high-quality beers and ciders.”

For those looking to try Staves Brewery’s Pale Ale, Drissell told us that it will be available in the brewery, and possibly a few pubs.

“We’ve recently got a small canner in the brewery, so we’re going to put a small amount in cans, but we’re not at the stage to start distributing to bottleshops,” he says. “It will be available at the brewery.

“We’re going through a process of naming our beers as part of a rebranding exercise. We’ll be giving it a new name along with the rest of the core range. We basically doubled our capacity earlier this year so we can now produce more beer than we need for our own taproom. We’re at the early stages of getting our beers into bars and pubs. We’ve got a new beer coming out every two or three weeks at the moment. We’ve got a lot going on.”

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