Some of Aotearoa’s newest, smallest and most remote craft breweries have won a place in the New World Beer & Cider Awards Top 30 announced on Tuesday, making the prestigious list alongside the country’s biggest names.
More than 700 beers, ciders and other fermented delights from all around Aotearoa and the world entered the competition, and it took an independent panel of 29 expert judges two days to whittle the field down to the very best brews.
“There are always a few surprises in the Top 30, but in nine years of this competition, there’s never been a year quite like 2023,” says Chair of Judges Michael Donaldson, who credits the competition’s judging format for giving breweries of all shapes and sizes the chance to shine.
“The beauty of judging entries ‘blind’ – without any branding, labelling or description – means it’s all about what’s in the glass on the day. It puts every entry on an even playing field, giving small, unheralded breweries the same shot at showcasing their work as established beer brands.”
Alongside global brands like Asahi and Tiger, homegrown names like Mac’s, Monteith’s and Steinlager, the 2023 Top 30 includes a host of legendary local craft brewers and first-time winners.
New to the awards podium this year are:
- Ruapehu Brewing Co with their aptly named Unlimited Vis Hazy IPA – one of the first beers off their new production line in Ohakune;
- Martinborough Brewery, offering beer fans some hoppy respite from the heart of wine country with their winning IPA Hop Elixir;
- Two small breweries from Taranaki that are on the rise – Shining Peak with Petite Pegasus Session Hazy and Three Sisters with Rumours in the Dark;
- Double Vision representing the craft beer capital of Wellington with their Miramar-made Mouth Party; and
- And from the mainland, Otago Brew School – a hands-on learning environment for students at Otago Polytech Te Pūkenga brewing school, making the grade with their classic dark wheat beer Klassenbester Dunkelweizen.
“Many of these breweries have remained relatively unknown outside their local regions, until now.” says Donaldson. “These wins will give these brew businesses an audience with beer-lovers all across New Zealand and a great opportunity to grow their fan base.”
In addition to the usual bragging rights, the Top 30 winners earn shelf space in New World stores nationwide, where thirsty customers look forward to exploring the range and finding new favourites.
And customers will have plenty of amazing options to choose from, as winning drops from well-known New Zealand craft breweries like McLeod’s, Deep Creek, Parrotdog, and Panhead also hit the chiller shelf.
Top in the rankings as the 2023 New World Beer & Cider Awards Supreme Winner is Taupo’s own Lakeman. Their Primate Pilsner came out on top in the final taste-off against some of the bigger beers in the competition because of its outstanding execution, says Donaldson.
“This win in a great story of Kiwi can-do attitude. Despite their remote location, rural farm setting and small team, Lakeman has gone from beginner to absolute winner in just ten years.
“There isn’t anything to hide behind in a crisp, light pilsner, and they’ve created a pitch perfect New Zealand style pilsner that beer fans are sure to love.”
Also making big strides in just a few years is Kingland’s Urbanaut, with three wins in the Top 30 for their Silver Palace Citra Hazy IPA, Newtown Hazy IPA and Bronx Double IPA, each showing off different hop varieties.
Bootleg Brewery from Matangi, Waikato won two places in the Top 30, for their flagship Apehanger IPA and an awe-inspiring Belgian-style quadruple, a dark beer described as “big, bold, sweet and spicy”.
Dark beer devotees will also be pleased to see 8 Wired, Burkes Brewing Co, and Sprig + Fern serving up some top porters to the list.
In ciders, Hawkes Bay’s Paynter’s Cider was recognised for their Champion drop, The Pilgrim – a super dry cider with Chardonnay characteristics set to delight traditional cider drinkers.
Zeffer, also from Hawke’s Bay, took two spots with their previously awarded alcoholic ginger beer and a new 0% Passionfruit cider, while Morningcider’s Cherry Bomb Cider and Mount Brewing’s Tart Rhubarb Cider round out the style with fruity kicks.
“Whether you love well-crafted craft beer, or are just on the hunt for a new taste or even a top-notch non-alcoholic option, the Top 30 is a go to list you can trust and choose from with confidence.”