What makes an award-winning beer?

Written by
Vintage Cellars
April 24, 2017
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Good brewing is both an art and a science. In this list of our Best Of Award-winners for 2017, you’ll find not only the best beer in Australia, but the best beer in the world.

When it comes to brewing an award-winning cider or beer, it takes a lot more than just a hop, skip and a jump to get it right.

Success requires a commitment to both the art and the science to achieve the vision, precision and creative expression necessary to realise the ultimate flavour and form.

In addition, it demands an authentic investment of self. As you’ll see in each of our Best Of Award-winners, every one of them has infused a portion of their own history, experience or culture to provide a touch of the personal to make their brew standout.

Not one has lost sight of who they are or where they’re from. And from the reactions of the judging panel, this is a decision which has clearly paid off.

Best Premium International Beer: Estrella Damm Lager

This beer is solid proof that great things can emerge from the worst situations. Over 140 years ago, the young August K. Damm and his partner Melanie were forced to flee their home in fear of the Franco-Prussian War. Their journey brought them to the Mediterranean coast, where they settled down and established their own brewery.

Nearly two centuries later, their legacy is an authentic Spanish brew which is light in colour, with a nose of delicate hop aromas. What’s more, there’s quality in every drop, with each grain of barley, malt, and rice being sourced from local farmers.

The recipe remains intact, too. The brewers at Estrella say, “While brewing technology has advanced significantly, we still stick to the original recipe of our founder August K. Damm.”

We think this beer captures the essence of the Mediterranean lifestyle: eating, drinking, art and culture. It’s a refreshing way of life we can all get behind.

“A real crowd pleaser, just right for watching footy with friends.” – Andrew, Vintage Cellars

Best New Beer: BrewDog Elvis Juice IPA

Elvis Juice is an American IPA with an enticing bitter edge. Its caramel-malt base supports intense citrus and five varieties of hops, while pine, orange and grapefruit round out the flavour profile nicely.

The team at BrewDog say they “brewed an India Pale Ale with five of the most grapefruitastic hops in [their] armoury, then added real grapefruit just for the hell of it.”

This pretty much sums up how we feel about this IPA. In the words of the King of Rock himself, "Love me tender, love me sweet, never let me go. You have made my life complete, and I love you so."

"This beer’s got everything going for it: great packaging, catchy name, and it tastes fantastic too." – Robyn, Vintage Cellars Yarraville

Best Australian Craft Beer: Little Creatures Dog Days Summer Ale

As the saying goes, every dog has its day. And this beer is basking in the glow of its own glory right now.

Little Creatures Dog Days Summer Ale is exactly what is says on the tin: a refreshing beer tailor-made for summer.

Marrying bright peachy, juicy-fruit hop flavours with a soft malt backbone, its bitterness is firm, but not so intense that it overwhelms the light malt character. It has a solid but refreshing wheat texture, which makes it a delicious sessionable beer for your palate.

Little Creatures say “there is no secret” to how they make their beers. “We make beer for fun and take pleasure when punters appreciate our labours.”

We’ve been so impressed with Little Creatures this year, we named them Brewer of the Year, too.

"This is the perfect beer for lazing around on a Sunday afternoon. Easy drinking and refreshing."– Robyn, Vintage Cellars Yarraville

Best International Craft Beer: Tuatara Tomahawk APA

Welcome to the United States of Ale – brewed just across the pond in New Zealand. This larger-than-life beer uses big-tasting American hops, including the aptly named Tomahawk, to create a citrus orange flavour explosion. Up-front, is a palate of citrus with pine notes, malt sweetness and a balanced hop finish.

If you’re looking to make beer drinking great again, you might want to check this one out.

"We love this beer, not just for the way it tastes but because the bottle feels amazing to hold.” – Andrea, Vintage Cellars

Best Cider: Orchard Thieves Crisp Apple Cider

With an age-old recipe and a lifetime’s worth of experience crafting premium homemade brews, Cider Producer, David Sax has stolen our hearts with his Orchard Thieves Crisp Apple Cider.

"We wanted to create a first-class beverage that was fruit-led and delivered the taste and texture that Australians are looking for from their cider,” he says.

"I grew up in Sussex, in England, and have fond memories of making cider in the farmhouse kitchen."

With a heritage spanning 125 years, this cider is crafted using the perfect mix of crisp and tart fruit for an instant, fresh apple taste.

"The soft apple flavours marry so well with a cheese platter and provide a great alternative to beer or wine,” says Robyn, Vintage Cellars Yarraville.

Find out which wines made our Best Of Awards list for 2017 , including Best Overall Wine.