Never before had Joel Connolly competed in a homebrew beer tasting competition.
But on Saturday, his IPA rose above the rest as he was crowned grand champion in the all grain category at the Orange Show event.
"I think my beers are ok, but I'm mostly the one who drinks them and I don't think I'm a very good self critic," he said of what inspired him to enter.
"I want to get better and be doing things differently and the best way to do that is to get feedback and get critically assessed, through a competition."
This year was the first that the competition was sponsored by Country Brewer Orange and saw 40 beers submitted across all categories.
Darrell Mogford oversaw the event and said judges were pleasantly surprised with the quality of submissions.
"There were some unusual beers that came with it, including a ginger beer and a gluten free beer," he said.
"It took the judges five hours to get through it all. Next year we'll be doing the weekend before."
The grand champions came from the beers which received the highest overall score, regardless of category.
For his winning entry, Mr Connolly went with a traditional, American west coast hop selection.
"I knew that even if I didn't win the competition that I'd still have 20 litres of beer to get through so I just wanted to make sure that I would like it," he said.
"I was hoping that I may place in just one of the categories.
"I didn't think that people would like a really strong beer like that (the winning IPA), because all my friends drink pale ales and lagers. So the IPA was quite big and I didn't think it would be the one to take it out."
Daniel Tyack was the runner up in the all grain category, while Mark Schmich was named grand champion of the extract division, with Adrian Pryde finishing second.
- The winners for extract were: Ken Drain (lager), Adrian Pryde (pale ale), Jack Schmich (IPA), Mark Logan (bitter), Adrian Pryde (old/dark), Anton O'Keefe (stout), Adrian Pryde (wheat) and Nigel Coutts (speciality.
- The winner for all grain were: Mark Logan (all grain), Chris Frith (pale ale), Joel Connolly (IPA), Mark Logan (bitter), Dominic Ross (old/dark), Daniel Tyack (stout), Dominic Ross (wheat) and David Hayes (speciality).
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