In something of a shot heard around the Australian craft beer world, a canned beer from Australia’s Dainton Family Brewers won the top beer award in the recent 2017 Australian Craft Beer Awards.  Dainton’s Cherrywood Smoked Baltic Porter was named Champion Australian Craft Beer at the July 27 awards ceremony in Adelaide.

Dainton’s Cherrywood Smoked Baltic Porter — packaged on Cask’s Automatic Canning System — won its category of Champion Porter/Stout before being named the overall winner of the contest, which is put on by Australia’s Independent Brewers Association. Chris McNamara, Executive Officer for the association, says Cherrywood Smoked Baltic Porter is the first canned beer to win the Champion beer honor.

Dan Dainton, founder and brewer for Dainton Family Brewery, says the honor was a surprise to many of the contest’s judges and brewers. “It was a big shock” Dainton says, “that the quality was there, there was no oxidation of the beer, and that a 9% porter was put into a can.”

Pirate Life Brewing — one of Cask’s first Australian customers — also shook up the awards by landing the Champion IPA award for its new canned beer, Mosaic IPA.

Tom Whitehouse, Pirate Life’s head brewer, says the extremely low oxygen pickup of Cask’s Automatic Canning System played a role in the win. “It’s a combination,” Whitehouse says, “of the technical skills of our packaging brewers and the thorough CO2 purging and laminar filling of the can from the parallel Cask fillers.”

“We have been using Cask to pack our world-class beers since we started back in 2014,” Whitehouse adds. “It would not have been possible to achieve what we have done in just over 2 years without the micro-canning technology Cask has made available to small brewers.”

McNamara says 95 of the 2017 judging’s 652 entries were in a can this year. It’s a sign of the growing faith that Aussie brewers have in cans for their craft beer.

“When we started brewing,” Whitehouse says, “people thought we were crazy to put a premium craft beer into a can. The format has now proven itself to Australian beer drinkers and awards like our Champion IPA for Mosaic go a long way in convincing people of the value of canned beer.”

For his brewery, Dainton says there’s only one option for packaged beer.  “Beer is better in cans,” Dainton says, “and we stand for making the best beer we can, no pun intended. That is why we chose to can our beer.”