The Brewers’ Guild of New Zealand will this weekend be judging the best of the best beers on the Kiwi market, when they tackle a record number of entries in the annual Brewers’ Guild of New Zealand International Beer Awards.
Sponsered in 2013 by Craftology, over 530 entries have been received in total from around 60 commercial breweries in New Zealand, as well as international entries from North America, Europe, and Australia, to name a few.
For the first time the judging will be held in Christchurch over three days, from this Friday 2 August, with judges flying in from all around the world. Including Matt Brynildson, Head Brewer at Firestone-Walker (US), who is enthusiastic about his judging role.
“New Zealand has a great reputation in the international brewing community for quality and innovative brews,” he says. “Being invited to judge beer at these awards is a real honour.”
While it may seem like a dream job to many, Craig Bowen, Competition Organiser from the Brewers Guild of NZ, is at pains to point out the pressure the judging staff are under.
“[The] 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,” he says. “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.”
According to President of the Brewers’ Guild of New Zealand and also owner of Three Boys Brewery, Ralph Bungard the increasing popularity of the awards reflects on the vibrancy and diversity of the New Zealand beer industry.
“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,” he says. “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.”
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 8 August, during Choice Beer Week.
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 contributions to beer journalism.