Jake's Report on the Indies and BrewCon 2023

August was a pretty special month for the independent beer industry. After a long, pandemic affected hiatus the industry as whole was finally able to come together for the 2023 Indies Awards judging in Brisbane, and then to BrewCon and the Indies Awards at the Gold Coast. I was fortunate to Judge for the Indies Awards, and then get down to BrewCon. It was a huge week characterised by incredible beers, thought provoking content and above all else, some incredible humans.

Being invited by the Independent Brewers Association (IBA) to Judge as the Indies was a huge honour. The IBA did an incredible job organising and executing the event and the standard of entries was mind blowing. Approximately 1350 entries were submitted from independent breweries from around the country. Of these, over 200 beers were awarded gold medals. An incredible result that highlights just how high the bar is being set by breweries around Australia.

As for us at Helios, we submitted only a few entries this year but were thrilled to be awarded a gold for our Classic Series Dark Mild, a silver medal for Medusa Black IPA, and a bronze medal for Goddess Red Rye. To get results like these is fantastic as it shows we’re on the right track. It’s also motivating to keep continuously improving in all that we do.

Medals aside, for me the best part of the Indies is being able to reunite with old friends and make plenty of new ones along the way. Judging incredible beers for three days was the cherry on top. So many incredible people make up the independent beer industry and it’s been difficult to connect in person with all that’s happened globally in recent years. This was the first Indies since pre-pandemic
times when judges, stewards, and event organisers from all over the country were once again able to get together and participate in such an incredible event. Good times indeed!

And the good times didn’t stop there. Immediately following the Indies Awards judging, attention then turned to the Gold Coast Exhibition Centre for BrewCon 2023 and culminated with the Indies Awards Presentation immediately following. BrewCon was last held in 2019 so you can imagine people were pretty damn excited to get amongst it after a three-year break.

The conference was a blast. Incredible speakers and panel presentations touched on a vast amount of pertinent topics relating to both the technical and operational sides of the industry. The current challenges facing many craft breweries was a key point of discussion. Overall, the content was vast, insightful, and triggered some deeper thinking about what we at Helios can do better moving forward to provide better quality products and experiences for our customers.

In addition to quality presentations covering diverse content, BrewCon showcases a trade show with exhibitors from all over the world. Brewery and equipment manufacturers, specialist suppliers and all manner of supporting industry companies are on hand to show their wares and chat about practical applications of their products and services. For me, I found myself being drawn back into
the trade show repeatedly. I had a list of exhibitors that I wanted to meet, however the spontaneous meetings and discussions continued throughout the event, often over a beer and a laugh. For me it was these conversations that really made BrewCon special. Putting faces to names, learning about all manner of new equipment, products and services really gets the creative juices flowing.

I learnt a lot, but more importantly I found myself being challenged to think about ways we can improve Helios more broadly. If I had to sum up my experience in one catch-all term it would be ’continuous improvement’. Plenty of little nuggets of information all leading me to think about ways that we can continuously improve the way we do things and ultimately improve the quality of our beers now, and into the future.

The week culminated with the Indies Awards ceremony in Surfers Paradise. The party was on for young and old, especially for all the winners. It was so epic to see so many Queensland breweries get swags of gold medals and trophies. There are too many successful breweries to name but special mention to Moffat Beach, Madocke and Aether Brewing who all cleaned up an impressive list of

All in all, the week was an absolute blast. It was such a pleasure to be able to connect with so many amazing humans from all corners of the industry and share quality times, beers and ideas. It’d been way too long and I look forward to next year!

Article by Helios Head Brewer - Jake.