• Beth Henderson

Beer Awards: How do they really impact businesses?

With all the hype surrounding the recent Australian International Beer Awards (AIBAs) starting to die down, one question still looms: What impacts do beer awards really have on businesses?

We chatted to both breweries and venues in the Indie Beer Hub community to get their perspectives on how beer awards impact businesses, beer sales and consumers' choices at the bar.

As a bit of background, the AIBAs are among the most prestigious awards in the beer world - here’s some quick facts on why they are so important to the industry:

  • It’s a huge event. Held in May, this year was the largest in the competition's history with more than 2500 beers submitted from 402 brewers across 26 countries.

  • It’s judged by experts. 83 judges from 10 countries were welcomed to judge, comprised of some of the world’s most highly respected brewers, beer writers and educators.

  • It’s awarded fairly. Entries are judged blind and anonymously based on appearance, aroma, style, technical quality, and flavour.

But, as a beer venue, why should you care about beer awards when deciding which beers to buy? How will it help your business?

1. Awards give customers a reason to try new beers. Your customers may not be up to date with the latest beer awards, but if they’re deciding which beer to try, it may be the thing that convinces them. Saher Barnett from The Tippler and Co in East Melbourne says:

“A lot of our customers don’t follow the scene, but I find they are interested to give a beer a try if it’s won an award”.

Nick Malin from The Local Taphouse in St Kilda added “Tapping award winning beers can help to move beer” but he also mentioned that general promotional hype can help a beer sell more than just having an award title.

2. You can be assured that an award winner is a high quality beer (even if you haven’t tried it!) For those who rotate beers regularly, choosing to put an award winning beer on your menu is a safe choice, even if you don’t have the time to try the beer first. Winning a medal at the AIBAs requires a certain score across 5 criteria from 83 judges tasting blindly, so there’s no chance a sub-par beer can wind up with a medal to its name. “Awards can help to be a clarifying point of well-made beer” Malin said.

And what is it about award winning beers that make them so great?

In this year’s AIBAs, Blackman’s Brewery won the coveted “Champion Small Australian Brewery”, which required the highest score across their top four submitted beers. When asked what makes their beer worthy of the top award, Renn Blackman responded:

“We make beers that we love to drink, work super hard to keep them consistent, use great quality ingredients, have qualified or studying brewers working for us and have invested in good equipment.”

3. Awards are a great talking point with customers.

How many times a day do you get customers asking which beer they should try, or what’s new? Barnett says:

“awards are something we would usually mention at the bar when recommending drinks or talking to customers”.

Awards are a great thing to mention to customers at the bar. Whether it’s the AIBAs, Indies Awards or GABS Hottest 100, telling customers about how the awards are judged and what makes a winner can add a lot to their drinking experience.

And for breweries, what’s the real impact that winning beer awards has on their businesses? Why are awards worth entering?

1. Get a professional and peer-reviewed assessment of your product.

With the number of breweries in Australia rapidly growing, it’s important to consistently benchmark yourself among the best in the industry.

Blackman says that winning awards “re-affirms for us brewers that we are doing a great job! It’s also a great way of getting independent feedback on your beers, from a great panel on experienced judges. Each year you can get valuable feedback that can help improve your beers!”

When starting out, entering awards can also be a great way to validate you’re on the right track.

“Our first award from our very first brew meant the most. It sort of meant we were headed in the right direction from the start.” - Jeff Crow of Bells Beach Brewery.

2. Serious street cred and respect.

There’s no doubt that winning awards gets breweries some serious street cred among the industry.

“Award winning beers always come with a certain amount of respect, however, it still needs to have a reason to be on tap at The Local Taphouse and sometimes the award is enough but not always.” says Malin.

Of course, winning an award is only one part of what might make up a venue’s buying decision, but it may be the part that tips them over the edge!

3. Get your beer and brand noticed.

Following any beer awards, winning beers and breweries get coverage in the media and on social channels - winning an award is a great excuse to shamelessly promote your beer. And it does get noticed by venue managers:

“I see news about [the awards] on social media and in the beer press. I will definitely have a look at a beer if it won an award.” says Barnett.

And when asked if entering awards is worth it? A resounding yes from both Blackman and Crow!

Overall, this healthy competition is great for lovers of craft beer - helping Australian independent breweries produce the highest quality craft beer in the world! If you’re ever unsure of which beer to choose, an award winner is always a safe choice.

Indie Beer Hub strives to make the best information available on beer to help inform buying decisions - including which awards a beer has won. This information, along with tasting notes, is all sent to you on a printable fact sheet with every order that you can distribute to staff for quick referencing.

You can sign up once to Indie Beer Hub in 5 minutes and get immediate access to 9 AIBA 2019 winning breweries, and 36 medal winning beers.

Like this story? Share it around! We’ll be posting regular stories like this one with real industry perspectives on the hot topics around independent beer.


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