Vintage Cellars

Best of Beer 2023: WA

Hear from the judges and check out the winners in the Vintage Cellars Best of Beer competition in WA, with Rocky Ridge and Running with Thieves among the hits.


Western Australia’s Best of Beer Awards 2023 brings together the brews you need to know. Judged by industry figures from across the state’s vibrant brewing scene, competition was fierce this year.

Winner Pale/Hazy Pale – Shapeshifter Sunshowers California Pale Ale

Light, bright, and crisp can be expected from Shapeshifter’s Pale Ale. Drinkers will be greeted with an eclectic concoction of flavours in this foamy brew – think pine, grapefruit, melon and peach.

Winner Lager – Rocky Ridge Pilsner

Lager was the standout category says Alice Lynch of southwest brewer Beerfarm. “It’s the style that a lot of us who are very into beer get excited about.”  Alice says that it’s the hardest category to execute perfectly: “There’s nowhere to hide.” Rocky Ridge describes this Pilsner as “a nod to the classic king of lagers.” A no-nonsense beer that is perhaps a little more restrained than what they’ve become known for.

Winner No Alc (0.5% and below) – Heaps Normal Half Day Hazy

Alice says that this category was “super impressive.” Judges are seeing beers that you wouldn’t immediately know are sans alcohol, “which is what you want,” she says. Heaps Normal is a trailblazer in the category and this year it has been rightly awarded. It’s a beer that has tipped the scales for many drinkers on their attitude to no-alcohol beers. If you’re new to non-alc, start here.

Winner Dark – Whitelakes Dark Lager

In judging, the dark category “stood out for me personally,” says Mark Smith of Freestyle Brewing. He says judges are looking for “a really well-balanced beer that showcases the style and is really well crafted”. White Lakes Dark strikes that balance, with what they describe as “a complex eight-malt profile.” And while you’ll get chocolate and roasted coffee from this beer, there’s also notes of spearmint and citrus.

Winner Pale Ale – Running with Thieves Low Carb Hazy

A style that works so well for the Australian climate, and beloved by drinkers, it’s impressive that Running with Thieves was able to take out the award with a beer that taps into another rising trend for our wellbeing-focused times. Low carb, this pale ale also has reduced gluten and is just 120 calories a pop.

Winner Summer/Pacific – Otherside Festive Session Ale

A brewery that has carved out a solid reputation in the WA craft beer scene, Festive Session Ale was its first beer way back when. It’s a medium-bodied ale that Otherside tips as being “supple and malty, with tropical citrus notes and a refreshing finish.” It lives up to its name, in its sessionability.

Winner Ginger Beer – Running with Thieves Ginger Beer

Not overly sweet, there’s balance and sharpness in Running with Thieves’ winning ginger beer that – its makers suggest – can be drunk straight or as a mixer.

Winner XPA – Running with Thieves XPA

Another style that we’ve seen come to prominence in recent years, and another win for Running with Thieves, it’s a beer that is, in their words, “bursting with pineapple, nectarine, mango and citrus notes”.

Winner Sour – Rocky Ridge Rock Candy Fruit Sour

A category that Mark says is definitely “on the rise”, Rocky Ridge have been developing this beer for over five years, describing Rock Candy as a beer that is “fruit forward without
compromising drinkability”. Expect smacks of passionfruit, kiwi and strawberry, and the eponymous rock candy.

Winner IPA – Running with Thieves, The Loose Collection Big John Studd Oats & Cream NEIPA

A big name for a big beer that’s inspired by late eighties wrestler Big John Studd, who won the 1989 Royal Rumble. Perhaps apt given Running with Thieves scoop of this year’s awards. They describe it as a “thick and juicy double dry hopped IPA, with flavours of orange, grapefruit and lime in a silken oat haze”.


Products featured are available from 01/02/23 to 07/03/23, while stocks last. Some products or varieties featured may not be available in all stores.