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Local breweries have taken the top spots in one of the most popular beer and cider competitions in the country, the New World Beer & Cider Awards.
The New World Beer & Cider Awards Top 30 announced today follows the independent expert judging of nearly 700 entries from around New Zealand and the world, and is full of debut winning breweries, record-setting wins and the latest trends.
The winners hit the shelves as well as the headlines today, with all the Top 30 beers, ciders, and even an alcoholic gingerbeer, now available in New World supermarkets nationwide.
Non-alcoholic beers get top marks and low carb reaches new heights
In one of many firsts for the Awards, this year two non-alcoholic beers have made the prestigious Top 30: ALL DAY Non-Alcoholic IPA from Auckland’s Bach Brewing and the Garage Project ‘Tiny’ Non-Alcoholic Hazy IPA.
Chair of Judges for the New World Beer & Cider Awards Michael Donaldson says the wins are great news for beer drinkers of all persuasions. “Creating a full-flavour beer without the alcohol is no easy feat. These winning breweries have met the challenge and led the market with stunning results that even the most beer-loving consumers can enjoy pulling from the fridge.
“To make the Top 30, an entry has to not just impress, but must reach the threshold of being a world-class example of its style, and these certainly do. Both are non-alcoholic options that don’t make you feel as if you’re missing out on anything.”
This year also sees the first low carb beer – another fast-growing trend on beer chiller shelves – to make it into the Top 30 with Epic Blue. “We judged the low carb entries alongside their peers in each style class, and it’s a real credit to the skill of the Epic team to have created such a full-flavour competitor.”
Debut winners from Waikato to Wanaka
For the first time in the Award’s eight-year history, the Top 30 winner list is made up entirely of New Zealand brands, including nine first-time winners from all corners of the country.
Debuting in the 2022 Top 30 are:
- Beer Baroness, a 100% female owned brewery in Christchurch
- Bootleg Brewery Company, located in the historic Matangi Dairy Factory near Hamilton
- Morningcider, of Auckland’s Morningside (of course), creators of the city’s first urban orchard
- Ranga Alcoholic Gingerbeer, from the original alcoholic gingerbeer brewers located in Gisborne
- Rhyme X Reason of Wanaka, where they also design and manufacture their own canning lines
- Southpaw Brewing, founded by a team of beer-fan friends in Christchurch
- The Theoretical Brewer of Taranaki, which has quickly grown from a garage passion project to one of the region’s favourite craft brewers
- Volstead Brewing Company, also of Christchurch, which made the Top 30 on their first try
Mount Brewing also re-joined the ranks with their first beer win, and Hawkes Bay’s Brave Brewing has returned following their inaugural win in 2020.
“This Top 30 is a showcase of some of the best brewing talents and innovators in the country,” says Donaldson, “and it’s great to be able to celebrate these new and less-widely known names alongside heritage brands like Steinlager, and popular craft breweries like Panhead and Sawmill, who continue to experiment and perform at the top of their game.”
Supreme winner a “masterpiece” among traditional styles and modern classics
For the first time the New World Beer & Cider Awards judges also awarded a Supreme Winner – tasting and re-tasting the best-scoring entries to find a stand-out champion and discovering what Michael Donaldson has called “a classic masterpiece” in Emerson’s Weissbier.
A reincarnation of a wheat beer Emerson’s founder Richard Emerson first brewed in 1995, the traditionally cloudy German-style beer is described as fruit-driven with a hint of “banana lollies”, full and creamy but clean and coherent.
“For those less taken by trends, the Top 30 is equally full of ‘classics’ to explore,” says Donaldson, including two Belgian style beers: a saison called Bones of the Land from North End Brewery and a lambic-style brew called Fistful of Raspberries from Matakana’s 8 Wired.
The Top 30 has modern classics and Kiwi-born legends too, such as Garage Project’s Pernicious Weed, which is one of four Top 30 wins from the brewery – an Awards’ record. While pop-culture champs Behemoth and relative newcomers Urbanaut were recognised for their latest take on hazies and lager respectively.
“Whether you are keen to try a perfect example of your favourite style of beer, explore something new, or just sample something from another part of the country, the Top 30 is a go to list that you can be confident choosing from,” says Donaldson.