The Perth Royal Beer Awards is the premier beer competition in Western Australia (WA), welcoming entries from large, medium and small craft breweries. It has been celebrating the continual expansion and innovation of the beer industry since 2007.
This year Blasta went back-to-back, winning the trophy for Champion Beer once again, this time for Unbridled Unicorn. They also won Best India Pale Ale Draught for Unnbridled Unicorn, and the HPA trophy for Champion Large Brewery. After a well earned week off, we got in touch with founder and brewer Steve Russell to congratulate the team and ask a few questions about their meteoric rise.
Q: Congrats on your recent success at the 2021 Perth Royal Beer Awards. We’re glad to be able to support your success by sponsoring the trophy for Champion Large Brewery. In a nutshell, how did you turn a passion for homebrewing into a successful business venture so fast?
A: First and foremost there must be lots of passion and genuine love for all things beer. Brewing beer is easy, but brewing great beer is highly technical where precision and attention to detail are a must. Having a business requires the same as above, and if you throw in resilience, hard work and determination then dreams can come true.
Q: Blasta also won Champion Beer for the second year in a row, this time for Unbridled Unicorn. Can you tell us the story behind the name for this magical IPA?
A: We commissioned a new piece of art along the entrance of our brewery wall in Burswood which is a large majestic unicorn ‘running along the wall’. It is imposing, powerful and looks almost uncontrollable. When we designed the beer, we wanted to make a beer to match our wall art. The beer is bold in flavour, has a high ABV and is bursting with aromas and a firm unapologetic bitterness. We think we nailed the brief. The beer is unrestrained and unbridled in every sense.
Q: The Strata hops in Unbridled Unicorn really shine. You clearly understand how to maximise the flavour of this particular hop. On the flip side, are there any hops you just can’t seem to figure out, or find a bit unpredictable?
A: We haven’t come across any particular hops that are hard to figure out to be fair. We are regularly experimenting and assessing hops for their potential in a blend and style and have had good outcomes. There are sometimes unpredictable results when dry hopping during the early stages of fermenatation where biotransformation provides some interesting outcomes. Importantly, always good results though.
Q: By the end of the night Blasta were awarded a massive 16 medals in total. Is there a medal-winning beer other than Unbridled Unicorn that you’re particularly proud of?
A: We are very proud of all of our beers at this time. We have invested a lot of time and effort to assess and hone each beer to get style, quality and consistency exactly to our liking. We are now seeing the results of these efforts as we are having sustained performance of these beers in major comps such as the recent PRBAs and AIBAs.
Q: A few other WA breweries had an extraordinary night as well, namely Otherside and Margaret River Brew House. What do you think is driving the state’s resurgence in recent years, resulting in some ridiculously high quality beers?
A: There are some seriously good brewers and breweries in WA. The market is demanding of very high quality products but also customers are in tune with the latest trends which allow the breweries to make new styles with the comfort that there will be demand for it. This allows brewers to gain valuable experience and knowledge along the way in techniques, processes etc. The use of the newest and latest ingredients also has an impact.
Q: There was an increase in no-alcohol and low-alcohol entries at this year’s Awards. Is this a category you can Blasta entering in future years?
A: Absolutely. We have a delicious low alcohol pale ale “Steady Head” and are looking to expand our selection in the future. The non-alcohol is a style we have been preparing for and will have some options out in the not so distant future too.