More than 4000 bottles and cans of beer and cider were transported, stacked and packed into Wellington’s Westpac Stadium, for judging on 23-24 February.
A panel of 15 independent experts swirled, sniffed and tasted to decide the very best beers and ciders in the country, during the robust two-day blind judging process. Each of the 464 entries across 13 categories were judged individually on its merits using a collaborative method which evaluates the brew’s qualities, balance and drinkability. With a 40% increase in entries from 2014’s inaugural awards, the judges face some tough decisions.
Two categories in particular are already looking to be the most hotly contested in this year’s awards. The popular Pale Ale category has an outstanding 64 entries this year, and is followed closely by the IPA (India Pale Ale) at 56 entries; results will be eagerly anticipated in the next few months.
New World Beer & Cider Awards is the only competition to feature a low-alcohol and session beer category, recognising excellent options on the market which are one standard drink or less per bottle or can. This is great news for consumers who are looking for good beers with lower alcohol content.
Chair of the independent judges, beer writer and author Michael Donaldson, said the New World awards are a celebration of beer and cider. “The awards have been created to bring together some of New Zealand’s foremost beer and cider experts. Their expertise will give New World consumers access to some of the world’s best brews, along with the confidence to discover new styles and brands,” he says.
“This competition is unique in New Zealand for the sheer number of entries combined with the fact beer and cider is being judged with the consumer in mind,” Donaldson said.
“We are looking for quality, technical excellence and above all drinkability. The number of entries shows how competitive the beer market has become. Our job is to put the spotlight on the very best beers available in New Zealand, to make it easier for the shopper to purchase with confidence. It’s like making a recommendation to a mate about what to buy.”
Gold, Silver and Bronze medals will be awarded to suitably worthy entries, with a “Best in Class” awarded to the top entry in each category. Consumers will be able to discover the Best in Class winners of the 2016 awards in 137 New World stores nationwide after Easter.
Steve Anderson, Managing Director, Foodstuffs New Zealand says, “The independent panel of judges represents some of the best in the industry. We will be using their expertise to bring New World consumers an outstanding selection of award-winning beer and ciders.”
“We expect stock to be limited as some of the Best in Class winners may be from small breweries with limited brewing capacity. We know from previous experience there is always a huge demand for winning beers and ciders, so customers will need to be quick to enjoy these fantastic brews.”
Entries have been received from breweries large and small throughout New Zealand with the only criteria being that the beer is available in cans or bottles, and brewers can deliver the volume required to satisfy the thirst of New World shoppers nationwide.