Best of the brews

Chris Shanahan
Young's Double Chocolate Stout and Gage Roads Abstinence.
Young's Double Chocolate Stout and Gage Roads Abstinence. 

Canberra's Wig and Pen Brewery has been chosen to brew beer for the presentation dinner for this year's Australian International Beer Awards. The Wig earned this precious gig through its performance at last year's awards.

The annual awards, run by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria and the University of Ballarat, enjoy a strong reputation globally.

This year's event has attracted a record 1480 entries from 270 brewers in 35 countries. The 12 per cent increase includes greater entry numbers from Australia, New Zealand Brazil, Japan and the US.

The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria is also behind the Royal Melbourne Wine Show. The University of Ballarat became involved because of its courses in brewing and malting. Chief judge of the event this year will be Brad Rogers, brewer and partner at Stone and Wood brewery, Byron Bay.

Young's Luxury Double Malt Chocolate Stout 500ml $5.90

There's chocolate in the brew and it shows up as a dry, bitter note in the finish - like strong, high-cocoa chocolate. But more than anything it's a full-bore stout featuring rich, roasted malt flavour, all-round opulence, smooth texture and assertive hops bitterness. A small glass on a cold night would be perfect.

Gage Roads Abstinence Belgian Dubbel Chocolate Ale 640ml $7.90

Western Australia's Gage Roads, partly owned by Woolworths, made this Belgian-style ale using Belgian yeast strains and Gabriel chocolate from Margaret River. Delicious chocolate flavour, tinged with hops, permeates the lively 7.4 per cent alcohol palate. Alas, the ale lost its head almost instantly.