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The Mouse that Roared

The Mouse that Roared


By Neil McInnes

One of New Zealand’s smallest breweries walked off with the big prize at the second NZ Hop Marketing Board International Beer Awards last weekend.

Against all comers, Wanaka Beerworks’ Brewski, was named the supreme champion beer at the awards dinner on Saturday night. A truly hoppy pilsner lager in the Czech tradition, Brewski pipped the winners from 24 other classes to win the coveted native wood trophy.

This boutique brewery only makes one other beer, a dark ale called Tall Black, and this also won a gold medal and its class. When accepting the supreme award, co-owner David Gillies acknowledged his brewing partner, Brian Cope, who was unable to be present as he was preparing a batch for the ‘War Birds Over Wanaka’ pageant next weekend.

Over 220 beers from a dozen countries were judged over a 3-day period. Gold, silver and bronze medals could be awarded and a winner in each class went forward for the trophy. An internationally recognised event, all gold medal-winning beers also qualified for the prestigious World Beer Cup in the US later this year.

This is good news for New Zealand’s smallest brewery, Nelson’s Lighthouse Brewery, which won a gold medal with its creamy Classic Stout. This one-person microbrewery brews in 200 litre batches at a brewing supplies shop in downtown Nelson.

In addition, two local brewbars from different niches in the beer market also won gold. The rustic Mussel Inn at Onekaka in the Golden Bay won its class with Whale Pale Ale, as did the ultra chic St Arnou brewbar on Auckland’s Ponsonby Road with their St Cloud spiced wheat beer.

It wasn’t only the little guys that went away happy. The new Lion Nathan Chief Executive, Englishman Roger North, was seen doing his version of a Cheshire Cat whilst walking around with Lion’s 3 awards for Light Ice, Settlers Original Ale and Speights Old Dark.

DB-affiliated Monteith’s Brewing Company also picked up 3 awards. However, its multi-award wining Black Beer was surprisingly not one of them.

International brewers also secured a clutch of prizes. One of the United States most famous boutique breweries, The Boston Beer Company, won 4 prizes with well-crafted beers from its Sam Adams range. Given that none of these beers are currently available in NZ, one malcontent was heard referring to them as “Yankee carpetbaggers”.

However, the most popular overseas winner by far was Beesting Pale Ale. A big cheer went up when compere Kerry Marshall announced the result as there’s not too many beers made (or people to drink them) on Norfolk Island.


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