“The Beers Got Absolutely Slaughtered”: Responding to Failure Breeds Indies Success for Moffat Beach Brewing

Moffat Beach Brewing Co has had repeated wins at the Independent Beer Awards, earning Champion Small Brewery, alongside Champion Session Beer (for Social Jam) in 2018. In 2020 it took out Champion Brewpub and second trophy for Session Beer (Moff’s Summer Ale).

However success wasn’t always the case for co-founder and brewer Matt Wilson. The first year he entered the awards (2016. Then known as the CBIA Awards), the result was less than flattering.

“We got absolutely nothing. The beers got absolutely slaughtered,” Wilson says.

While he admits it was a “hit to the ego”, he tells us he doesn’t enter the beer for an ego boost, but rather for the “invaluable and unfiltered” feedback from the judges. Each year he takes it all onboard, and uses it to make better beer.

“Having that brewpub on the beach in 2015 when I started, I was there by myself and didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off. [In 2016] there was one fault, the same fault, in every single beer which was oxidation, and I worked out where that was happening,” Wilson explains. “I kept honing my craft, and then in 2018 when we picked up Small [Brewery] in Sydney, and we picked up champion Session Beer as well, that really put us on the map within our own backyard. It gave us a bit of street cred. People were actually seeking us out, which was awesome.”

In 2020 the brewery expanded to a second location and production brewery, and began producing beer to go outside of the brewpub and into the world. Winning 36 Kegstar keg rentals each month for a year, as part of the Champion Brew Pub Trophy, made life a lot easier for the team.

“Having that’s helped us immensely because we’ve just started sending beer out to the universe.” Wilson says, adding that having beer on at Pint of Origin Queensland for Good Beer Week was only the second time his beer has made it to Melbourne (the first was only a couple of kegs for a one-off event). The Kegstar prize couldn’t have come at a better time.

More recently, he got caught out with border closures and was stuck in Newcastle. Despite not being a “sales guy”, he says with awards next to the brewery name on a sales sheet made it easy for him to get out and do sales calls while there. “ We just weren’t another brewery, it gave us a talking point and I was able to go in there and feel comfortable having a chat with someone.”

Despite repeated success, Wilson says he and his wife (and co-founder) Sharon aren’t measuring it by trophies, but by the feedback they get. Their only aim is to walk away with one Gold medal per competition. With the Indies, and BrewCon, happening at Moffat’s hometurf on the Sunshine Coast this year, you can be confident their name will appear somewhere in the results.

Six years later, Wilson says he still keeps the notes from 2016 in a drawer. It shows that making champion beer isn’t easy, but by being part of an independent industry that values great beer and that understands we can lift quality standards together, even the smallest breweries can reach the top.

Indies entries are open now. Click here for all the details. 



Photo courtesy of The Crafty Pint/Mick Wust