What do Alistair Hook, Kjetil Jikiun (above), Luke Nicholas and Richard Emerson have in common? Apart from the fact they’re brewers at Meantime, NÃ¸gne Ã, Epic and Emerson’s respectively, that is.
The answer is that they’re all judges at this year’s Australian International Beer Awards. They are four of the record number of 43 judges drawn from the Australian and international beer worlds who are coming to Melbourne next week to sample and rate almost 1,500 beers in preparation for the AIBA Gala Dinner on May 23, in the middle of Good Beer Week.
They’ll be joining their peers from the likes of Bridge Road, Mountain Goat, Holgate, Hargreaves Hill, Murrayâs, Stone & Wood and Feral for a week of intense sensory analysis. And, for the first time in the AIBA’s 21 year history, most of the judges will be taking part in a pair of “Meet The Brewers” events on Wednesday night, at which punters can rock along to the Royston or The Alehouse Project for the chance to rub shoulders and share beers with the people who produce the beers they know and love.
The events are being hosted by the AIBA and Good Beer Week in anticipation of this year’s festival, which runs from May 18 to 26.
“In the past, the judges for these awards have tended to arrive and depart Melbourne like ships passing in the night,” says festival co-founder Miro Bellini.
“But with things changing fast in the beer world and with interest in beer at an all time high it felt like the right time to give beer lovers a chance to meet such a select band of brewers.”
For 2013, the AIBAs have introduced a number of changes, including Champion Beer of Show trophies â for both Australian and International beers. The organisers at the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) have also divided brewery awards into small, medium and large categories to better reflect the rapidly changing industry.
The judging process has altered somewhat too, with all judging taking place in one week: seven panels of six judges will blind taste all the classes; as they say: it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it… As for the panel of judges, they were selected by Brad Rogers, the AIBA Head Judge and Stone & Wood co-founder, along with the RASV from a list of interested applicants from all over the globe.
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