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Beer Awards Attract Record Number of Entries

Brewers Guild of New Zealand Incorporated

30 JULY 2013

New Zealand International Beer Awards Attracts Record Number of Entries

The Brewers’ Guild of New Zealand will this weekend be looking for the best brews available to New Zealand consumers when a collection of highly qualified beer judges take on a record number of entries in the annual Brewers’ Guild of New Zealand International Beer Awards, this year sponsored by Craftology.

Over 530 entries have been received in total from the 60 or so commercial breweries in New Zealand combined with several international breweries from as far away as North America, Europe, and Australia, amongst others.

The judging is for the first time being held in Christchurch over three days from this Friday (2nd August), with judges flying in from all around the world. One of those judges is Matt Brynildson, Head Brewer of the high-flying North American brewery Firestone-Walker. Brynildson is enthusiastic about his role as one of the judges; “New Zealand has a great reputation in the international brewing community for quality and innovative brews, and being invited to judge beer at these awards is a real honour”, he says.

The long weekend of beer tasting may sound like a dream for many, but Competition Organiser from the Brewers Guild of NZ, Craig Bowen, says tongue-in-cheek “it’s not all beer and skittles!” He stresses that “judges take their work very seriously and many have trained for years to get to a point where they can recognise subtle characteristics that determine whether a brew is awarded a gold, silver or bronze medal - or no award at all”. Bowen says that “brewers are immensely proud of their products, and getting that quality recognised by their peers is very satisfying for them. The competition is friendly, but pretty intense!”

Bowen says that judges will be exposed to an astonishing range of beer styles from the lightest lager to the blackest stout and from alcohol-free brews to some with alcohol levels as high as 23%. He points out that unlike wine judging, beer needs to be swallowed to appreciate the full taste and aroma profile. However, he is also quick to add that individual judges will be involved in judging perhaps only 100 to 150 of the beers and the small volume consumed is over an extended period.

Current President of the Brewers’ Guild of New Zealand and also owner of Three Boys Brewery, Ralph Bungard, says that the increasing popularity of the awards is a reflection of the vibrant and rapidly expanding diversity of the brewing industry in New Zealand. “Consumers now have access to a remarkable range of beer styles from many diverse breweries”, he says. “Things have certainly changed for the beer connoisseur in New Zealand - gone are the days where you were lucky if there were a handful of products to choose from”.

Bungard argues that in many respects the increasing popularity of more diverse beers is a sign of a maturing consumer market. “For many, the days of glugging down large volumes of beer are changing to drinking more interesting beers in smaller quantities, and often matched with food - that has to be a more healthy development in our culture”, he says.

The winning beers will be announced at the Brewers’ Guild of New Zealand - Craftology International Beer Awards dinner to be held in the Wellington Town Hall on Thursday 8th August, during Choice Beer Week. “Local entertainer Te Radar will be Master of Ceremonies for the second year in a row” Bungard says. “Radar takes some of the tension out of the night’s intense competition and he does a great job entertaining the industry participants who are perhaps not as focussed on the results as the brewers!”

Along with several trophies dedicated to specific beer styles, the Awards dinner will also include the announcement of Grand Champion Brewery, for the brewery that accumulates the most awards on the night, the Morton-Coutts Trophy for innovation and excellence in the brewing industry, and the Annual Beer Writer of the Year award for outstanding contribution to beer journalism.

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