Chair of the independent judges, beer writer and author Michael Donaldson says with so many strong entries selecting a Champion in each class was very difficult for the judging panel. A standout was the hotly contested IPA class with more than 70 entries from 45 breweries, which finally came down to technical excellence.
“IPA is the fastest growing sector in the brewing industry, so it’s a highly competitive class in any awards. There are so many techniques to brewing an IPA, different ways to use hops, malt structure, bitter-sweet balance, level of alcohol, all of these create varied flavour profiles which the judges have to assess.
“When it came to selecting the Champion from our five finalists, what stood out for the judges was the technical excellence of Epic’s Armageddon IPA. And it’s not for the first-time Armageddon has triumphed. This is the second year running that Armageddon has won best IPA in this competition, not to mention their other local and international awards. It’s now the benchmark for quality in the IPA category.”
Donaldson says the diversity of the winners illustrates the strength of the local brewing industry.
“We’ve got long-established brewers such as Hawke’s Bay Independent, whose Pure Lager was a revelation in the lager class, craft darlings ParrotDog, who produce a gem of a pilsner to win that class as well as relative newcomers such as Spark’s Brewing, whose Outlander Extra Stout has only been around for a couple of years but has already made a name for itself as one of the best in the country.”
He reserved special praise for Bach Brewing and Good George Brewing, who both took two Champion titles this year.
“Bach Brewing’s Witsunday Blonde IPA is a complex but approachable beer while their Driftwood Pale Ale packs in great flavour without being too high in alcohol. Good George showed there are plenty of ways to use hops, with a restrained dose in their very approachable Amber Ale to something different in their Drop Hop Cider.”
Donaldson says with the local craft brewing industry growing strongly there’s never been more competition for retail shelf space.
“These awards make Gold medal winners available in all New World stores nationwide. They help shoppers explore outside their comfort zone and give them the confidence to try the unfamiliar. When they choose a Gold medal beer or cider they can be sure it’s a very good drop.”
Steve Anderson, Managing Director, Foodstuffs (NZ) Ltd, says the New World Beer & Cider Awards are the only New Zealand awards that can give winners an instant boost in sales and brand visibility.
“All Gold medal winners are guaranteed distribution in New World stores,” says Anderson. “So being awarded a Gold medal in our competition guarantees a nationwide audience.”
“It gives us great pleasure to be able to support the local brewing industry, and in turn give our shoppers ready access to such fantastic, award-winning brews. That said, we know from previous years that there’s always huge demand for the winning beers and ciders, so anyone who’s keen to try them should get to their local New World to avoid missing out.”
More than 500 beers and ciders were entered by 81 local and international breweries. The entries were blind-judged by a panel of 19 independent expert judges using a collaborative method based on technical excellence, balance, mouthfeel, and most importantly, drinkability.
Champion and Gold winners will be available in New World stores nationwide from Monday 3 April. To see all the medal winners, please visit newworld.co.nz/goodstuff