New categories and scoring for Indies

IBA Indies Indie Awards 2019

The Independent Brewers Association has announced changes to the Indies from this year, including new categories, an updated scoring system and updated trophies to ensure the awards are more “consumer friendly”.

The decisions come as a result of a major review undertaken by the industry body following issues with the awards scoring system last year which prompted corrections to Indies Champion Brewery trophies in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

A new scoring matrix was introduced in 2019 which was blamed for the issue.

Category and scoring changes

The IBA suggested in its review that while many changes would be made for 2022, not everything has yet been agreed by the Board.

It was suggested that a Contract Brewer Award be introduced in 2022 and the IBA will consider this, but it has not been confirmed. Despite discussions about the introduction of a Seltzer category, this will not be added this year, but will be reviewed as demand increases.

Other major changes include:

  • Champion Brewpub Trophy to be removed for 2022
  • Provenance of beer – where it is produced – to be included in entry process
  • The decision that a beer with any fault whatsoever will not be awarded a medal
  • Juicy-Hazy category introduced
  • No-Lo category to be introduced (formerly Session)
  • Hybrid category renamed Speciality
  • Mixed Culture category renamed Fruit & Funk
  • Competition’s smallest categories Amber-Dark Ale and Porter-Stout to combined as Amber-Dark Beer category
  • New Champion state and size brewery scoring
  • Similar to the AIBAs this year, the Indies will require that the commercial name and entry class be “stylistically similar”

To remedy the issues with the Champion Brewery trophies in previous years, the IBA has adopted a new scoring methodology which will measure a brewery’s overall performance in the competition and not just their top beers, the IBA explained.

Each medal will be worth a certain number of points, and a total brewery’s pointed will be divided by either the number of entries from that brewery or the median number of beers entered by breweries in that brewery size group – whichever is higher.

The two new categories announced – Juicy-Hazy and NoLo, and the Hybrid and Mixed Culture categories have been renamed to become more “consumer friendly”, it said.

In addition, it will remove the Champion Brewpub trophy for 2022 to enable the taproom and brewpub labels to be better defined for 2023.

The organisation clarified that breweries and brewing brands are eligible to enter the Indies and are eligible for Class Trophies and Champion Beer, but brewing brands are not eligible for Champion Size or State Trophies.

However, the IBA stipulated that beers made under contract or manufactured by another entity are not eligible to win Champion Size or State Trophies.

In addition, a new competition management system will be introduced, as well as a judges training and mentor programme and the creation of a new Advisory Committee for the Indies.

IBA chair Richard Adamson said that the review was an opportunity to bring the Indies back to best practice by global standards.

“While the impetus for the review came off the back of issues we experienced with scoring in 2021, it has allowed us the opportunity to pull it all apart and to build a program we feel is best practice on a world stage,” he said in a statement.

There are some changes that will be made this year and others that we will work on over time but it is safe to say, this has been a great process to have been a part of.

“It’s had the Board debating how scoring should be undertaken, how we recruit and train judges and how we want to evolve the style and sophistication of the awards in line with industry growth.”

IBA chief executive officer Kyle Lethbridge highlighted the ongoing significance of the awards to the industry.

“The Indies Awards are a very important part of our member offering as it not only integrates with our quality program but allows us to really celebrate the best of the best and provides indie brewers an opportunity to test their tried and true beers as well as experimental and new products against their peers,” she said.

While the Indies as a physical event will not go ahead this year, it will return in 2023 along with BrewCon at the Gold Coast Convention Centre on 22nd to 23rd August, said the IBA.

Entries for this year’s Indies will open on 18th July 2022, and the IBA will be holding state parties across Australia to mark the event.

View the full Indies review here.

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