Without a national day in January to announce its selections on, Wellington’s Hashigo Zake has announced its customer’s choices for best beers of 2011. To have your say on Australia’s best beers, make sure you vote in the Local Taphouse Hottest 100.
Hashigo Zake Reveals 2011’s Best Beers and Brewers
New Plymouth’s Liberty Brewing and Blenheim’s 8 Wired are the big winners in Cult Beer Bar Hashigo Zake’s customer survey of the best of 2011. Voters couldn’t separate the two when asked who the “Brewer of 2011” was. The two breweries also excelled in specific categories and Liberty’s C!tra, an Imperial IPA made using only Citra hops, was voted beer of 2011.
An apparent trend in the results is the sudden emergence of the lower North Island as a brewing region. As well as Liberty, new Wellington breweries Garage Project and ParrotDog were prominent in the results and voters predicted that Wellington Craft Brewing will be “the story of 2012”.
For 8 Wired, success in this survey is further confirmation of their recent rise. At the 2011 BrewNZ awards 8 Wired was named Champion Brewery and the brewery is becoming an exporting success story.
Liberty’s success is more surprising, given that it is a new, part-time, garage business for brewer Joseph Wood, his beer can only be found in a few outlets and supply generally falls well short of demand. Joe says that his success vindicates his decision to learn to weld so that he could build his own brewery and make beers “with heaps of hops, heaps of malt, or both”.
This was the second time that Hashigo Zake has surveyed its customers for their opinions on the previous year’s products and their producers. As well as being a holiday season amusement, the survey is motivated by the theory that the bar’s customers are exposed to such a diverse range of high quality beer that their judgments are as well-informed and fair as those of competition judges.
Full results are attached or can be found at http://hashigozake.co.nz/2011survey.pdf.
Hashigo Zake’s Best of 2011 Survey Results
The country’s most dedicated, thoughtful and, let’s face it, good-looking beer judges have had their say and it’s time to announce the results of Hashigo Zake’s annual survey of what was good in the year that’s been. We unashamedly grouped beers into arbitrary categories and asked participants to name their favourite in that category, and we followed up with some more diverse or open questions.
One Horse Races
Some categories turned out to be no-contests. A single answer dominated.
Favourite Amber or Brown Beer
8 Wired Tall Poppy. There were encouraging returns for ParrotDog Bloodhound, Emerson’s Brownville and 8 Wired Double Brown (of which only 50 litres were made!), but Tall Poppy was out on its own in participants’ estimation.
Favourite Imperial IPA
Liberty C!tra. Clearly this beer has made a profound impact on lovers of big strong IPAs. It won many friends at Beervana and at the Pacific Beer Expo was voted favourite beer at both sessions. Honourable mention too to Epic’s Hop Zombie.
Favourite Wheat Beer
Three Boys Wheat. In spite of solid support for Tuatara Hefe and Coronado’s Orange Avenue Wit, Three Boys Wheat remains the favourite of our drinkers. (But we already knew this by how quickly it sells.)
Favourite Garage Project Beer
Trip Hop. Garage Project’s 24/24 programme was so engrossing and popular that it seemed fitting to give them a category of their own. The winner turned out to be the first beer that they’re-brewed on a large scale, which is a great endorsement for Trip Hop, but suggests that some of the great beers in the 24/24 programme didn’t live in the memory as long as we hoped.
Favourite Beer In No Other Category
Renaissance Stonecutter. Rather than test the patience of our voluntary respondents by having as many categories as there are recognised styles, we cut corners. And a pretty diverse range of beers got lumped here. We apologise for any disservice done as a result, but it’s interesting that the same beer won the equivalent category last year, so clearly Stonecutter has a status that deserves recognition. Kudos too to Yeastie Boys for coming a clear second with (what else but) Rex Attitude and for picking up quite a few votes for Hud-a-wa and Red Rackham. Mussel Inn Captain Cooker and Invercargill Men’nskurrts featured highly too.
Two Horse Races
A couple turned out to be cliff-hangers.
1st Croucher Pils
2nd Emerson’s Pilsner.
Two of the most respected and awarded local pilsners divided our respondents and Croucher took the decision by a few votes. Fighting it out for third were Three Boys Pils, Sprig & Fern Harvest Pils, Tuatara Pils and Harrington’s Rogue Hop.
Favourite Porter or Stout
1st Equal Renaissance Craftsman Chocolate Oatmeal Stout and Three Boys Oyster Stout.
New Zealand has two truly great winter stouts that still evoke strong feelings in the middle of summer.
Honourable mentions go to Yeastie Boys PKB and Liberty Darkest Day Stout.
Favourite Pale Ale
1st Tuatara American Pale Ale
2nd Tuatara Aotearoa Pale Ale.
Clearly Tuatara are onto a good thing with these beers and customers have appreciated their honest response to the Great American Hop Shortage, which was to switch to a interpretation of the same beer using local hops. Some great beers were back in the pack – Epic Pale Ale, Epic Mashup, the Liberty Summer Blonde series, 666 Gabriel B, Baird Rising Sun Pale Ale and Liberty Taranaki Session Beer.
Favourite Hand-pumped Beer
1st Twisted Hop IPA
2nd Cassel and Sons’ Milk Stout.
For a brewery whose premises have been out of bounds since February 22nd, the Twisted Hop have remained in people’s thoughts, and when they’ve had batches of their beer produced at otherbreweriesthose were snapped up. Meanwhile relative newcomer Cassel and Sons have a cult following for their Milk Stout, and in spite of being rare it nearly won over our voters. We should also point out that all six Townshend beers that were listed in this category picked up a lot of votes.
Three Horse Races
In some categories the competition was even closer.
Favourite Imperial Stout
1st Ballast Point Victory at Sea
2nd Liberty Never Go Back
3rd Nøgne Ø Imperial Stout.
We are well aware of our customers’ affection for Victory at Sea and the quality of Nøgne ØImperial Stout, so for Liberty’s Never Go Back to mix it with these giants is a triumph.
1st ParrotDog Bitterbitch
2nd 8 Wired Hopwired
3rd Liberty/Mikes Taranaki Pale Ale.
ParrotDog, the upstarts of Wellington brewing, have been demonstrating their popularity since that famous night back in August when Hashigo Zake poured 120 litres of the first incarnation of BitterBitch in 96 minutes. To come out ahead of the beer of 2010, Hopwired, is some feat.
Some Purely Self-centred Questions
1st Pork and Chorizo
2nd Beef Rendang
3rd Venison Vindaloo.
While there’s no shame in coming second to the venerable pork and chorizo pie, all those associated with the release in 2011 of the beef rendang pie are devastated at the result.
Favourite Hashigo Zake Event.
1st The Pacific Beer Expo
2nd Garage Project Launch and 24/24 Programme.
We asked voters what “the story” of 2011 was. Take a bow Monteiths/DB/Heineken and IPONZ because the winner was the Radler Debacle. Not all that far behind was The Explosion of Wellington Beer Bars. Did the first contribute to the second and does this forecast a grim year ahead for the industrial brewer? We sincerely hope so.
We also asked voters what the story of 2012 will be. The future must be bright for Wellington brewers and drinkers because the most popular answer was Wellington Craft Brewing. Equal second were The Further Erosion of Lion and DB’s Dominance and, ominously, The Sale of one f New Zealand’s Best Craft Breweries to Lion or DB.
We asked four other questions. Five if you count “what’s your name”.
What was your beer of 2011?
For this category we invited participants to write in their answers with no pre-defined options. It made collating the answers difficult and drew responses that were diverse and, at times, poorly spelled and surprisingly detailed. The winner by a single vote was Liberty C!tra (already the winner of the Imperial IPA category). Next was 8 Wired Batch 18.
What is the Most Promising New or Emerging New Zealand Brewer?
Liberty was the big winner ahead of Wellington’s own Parrot Dog and Garage Project.
What was your favourite overseas brewery of 2011?
For all the quiet compliments given out to Coronado, the hype over Green Flash, the visit to New Zealand by Nøgne Ø’s Kjetil Jikuin and the impact of Australia’s Feral when we finally got our hands on some, it was Northern Californian mainstay Bear Republic that topped the voting.
What was your favourite New Zealand brewery of 2011?
Watching answers to this question trickle in was fascinating. Again, this was an open question, with no suggestions offered. But responses were far less diverse than for the Beer of 2011 question and two breweries were dominating–8 Wired and Liberty. A win for 8 Wired would make a lot of sense for a brewery that has been over-achieving for two years, developing a stellar reputation locally and overseas, and that in 2011 was named Champion Brewer at the BrewNZ awards. And yet Liberty Brewing, a nano-brewery with only one regular outlet (Hashigo Zake), one BrewNZ medal and no full-time staff somehow kept pace with the “established” 8 Wired. In the end they both won–tied for first.
Favourite Wheat Beer Three Boys Wheat
Favourite Lager Croucher Pils
Favourite Hand-pumped Beer Twisted Hop IPA
Favourite Pale Ale Tuatara American Pale Ale
Favourite Amber or Brown Beer 8 Wired Tall Poppy
Favourite IPA ParrotDog Bitterbitch
FavouriteImperial IPA Liberty C!tra
Favourite Beer in No Other Category Renaissance Stonecutter
Favourite Porter or Stout Renaissance Craftsman / Three Boys Oyster Stout
Favourite Imperial Stout Ballast Point Victory at Sea
Favourite Garage Project Beer TripHop
Favourite Pie Pork and Chorizo
Favourite Hashigo Zake Event Pacific Beer Expo
Story of 2011 The Radler Debacle
Story of 2012 Wellington Craft Brewing
Most Promising New or Emerging New
Favourite Overseas Brewery BearRepublic
Beer of 2011 Liberty C!tra
Brewer of 2011 Liberty / 8 Wired