Beer and cider lovers rejoice – our fifth annual New World Beer & Cider Awards were, simply, the best yet. We had the most entries, most judges, and – most importantly – the best quality products we've seen. And what a range of flavours.

Michael Donaldson, Chair of Judges

What did the Judges think? 

From a cider that tastes like rum and raisin, to a feijoa ale, to an IPA made with peaches, to one of the best dark beers you’ll lay your hands on – we’ve got something for everyone. Hand on heart I can say we’ve uncovered a primo selection of pilsners, pale ales and IPAs, all with individual character. There’s a range of classical styles; a German doppelbock and Scottish-style Wee Heavy from Sprig & Fern, a classic Belgian Witbier from Emporium, a traditional cider from Peckham’s that has to be tasted to be believed, to a modern Porter from McLeod’s that is so refreshing and light.

Plus there’s a range of experimental and out-there beers such as Garage’s Project’s “peach milkshake” IPA, Liberty’s Hoptical Illusion (a double IPA masquerading as a pilsner), an Epic-Sparks Imperial Stout that is beyond gorgeous, a passionfruit and juniper sour beer from Fork Brewing…and a chamomile tea wheat beer from Yeastie Boys.

Back in March the 32 judges (24 senior judges and 8 associate judges) were overjoyed at the quality of the 600-plus beers and ciders presented to them. The tinkling of glasses for "gold medal" standard was frequently heard. This made our job of selecting the Top 30 a much tougher task than we imagined, but it was a good problem to have.

The quality was so high that I have no problem recommending the 70 Highly Commended beers and ciders. In effect, our Top 30 are 24-carat golds while the 70 Highly Commended beers are 18 carat golds – explore them at your leisure.

I was particularly pleased with the range of IPA, specifically the variety. In the India Pale Ale category we’ve got something for everyone; the sweeter, softer style of a hazy IPA, the traditional West Coast-style, a double IPA, a fruited IPA and a session IPA at less than 4 percent ABV and an amazing low alcohol “small” IPA at 2.5 percent in the form of Croucher’s Lowrider. It’s an exciting array showcasing different interpretations of this popular style.

One of the other aspects I noted was the quality of beer in the sour, barrel-aged and fruited category. The sour beers were particularly notable, contributing to nine of the Top 100 beers, which reflects the growing popularity and careful execution of this style.

As Chair of Judges I’m always excited to see what new breweries have suddenly leapt to the fore – and there are three or four here that I would call relatively unknown such as Duncan’s from Raumati, Emporium from Kaikoura, Paynter’s Cider from Hawke’s Bay and Fork Brewing from Wellington – but what struck me was the consistent performance of some of New Zealand’s better known breweries and cider-makers who are proving that quality across the board is one of the reasons they are successful.

It was a cut-throat competition given the incredibly high quality but it was pleasing to discover a Top 30 that features standard bearers of the New Zealand industry, international heavyweights and local rising stars. 

It's a mix that will definitely please New World customers, which is the sole purpose of what we do.

What did the Judges do?

Chair of Judges, Michael Donaldson, carefully selected 24 experienced beer and cider judges for the 2019 New World Beer & Cider Awards. He specifically sought experienced and well-respected judges who could provide a range of expertise on different styles.

The judges blind-tasted and evaluated 637 different beers and ciders at the 2019 judging event. Blind-tasting means judges only see the beer or cider in the glass, never any bottles or brands.

The integrity of the competition and the robust procedures were maintained by Craig Bowen, Chief Steward, who also ensures judges don’t taste any of their own beer entered into the competition.

New World offers the opportunity for Liquor Managers, New World Owners and brewing industry trainees with an interest and passion for beer and cider to become Associate Judges and evaluate the entries alongside the professional judges. Michael Donaldson and Geoff Griggs selected and trained the eight Associate Judges. The Associates provide a score and opinion on each entry, but their scores don’t count towards the final mark. It's an incredible experience to spend two days in the company of some of the country’s best brewers and cidermakers, judging, discussing and analysing the beers and ciders entered into the competition.

Entries were grouped by class and each entry was judged by a table comprising of a Table Captain, two judges and one associate judge. The judges sniffed, sipped, tasted and debated each entry’s qualities using a collaborative judging approach that evaluates technical excellence, balance and, most importantly, drinkability.

The top entries in each class were then randomised, re-tasted and ranked by the Table Captains and Chair to determine the Top 30.  The next 70 best beers and ciders were Highly Commended, creating a Top 100 list  for you to explore.

Who were the judges?

Michael Donaldson, Chair of Judges

Michael is one of New Zealand’s most renowned beer writers and was named Beer Writer of the Year by the Brewers Guild of New Zealand for a third time in 2018. His writing appears in North & South, The New Zealand Herald, Stuff and Drinksbiz. He is also magazine editor of The Pursuit of Hoppiness published by the Society of Beer Advocates (SOBA) and author of New Zealand's definitive beer history Beer Nation - the Art and Heart of Kiwi Beer,as well as The Big Book of Home Brew: a Kiwi Guide. Michael has chaired the New World Beer & Cider Awards judging panel since 2016 and has also judged at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards. 

Brian Watson, Table Captain

Founder and Director of Good George Brewing, and a qualified brew master, Brian has over 25 years experience in the industry locally and internationally. He has been judging beer since 1998, participating in many national and international competitions throughout his career in the US, New Zealand and Australia. Brian has been involved in the installation of more than 60 breweries around the world. His passion, expertise and character are well known throughout brewing circles.

Geoff Griggs, Table Captain

Geoff has been described as a “tireless and fastidious reporter of the New Zealand Brewing scene”, having written for numerous magazines, newspapers and trade publications. He is the only New Zealand beer writer to be credited in Beer Hunter; Michael Jackson’s definitive book and was honoured to write the New Zealand chapter in Jackson’s The Eyewitness Companion Guide to Beer. A former executive committee member of the Brewers Guild of New Zealand and former president of SOBA, Geoff is Chief Judge of the National Homebrew Competition and member of many national and international beer judging panels. 

Kelly Ryan, Table Captain

Currently Head Brewer of Champion Small New Zealand Brewery at Wellington’s Fork & Brewer, Kelly is a respected and sought-after beer judge, having judged multiple local and international beer competitions since 2007. After starting off as a trainee brewer at Tui Brewery, Kelly later completed stints at Fyne Ales and Thornbridge in the UK as well as Epic Brewing Company and the Good George brewpub in Hamilton. With this extensive experience Kelly has been able to perfect his craft and produce many award-winning beers and ciders.

Sam Williamson, Table Captain

Sam is a beer-lover, qualified brewer and production manager at the Sawmill Brewery in Matakana. He has received international acclaim from the Institute of Brewers and Distillers, earning joint runner-up Young Member of the Year 2013 and has helped produce a number of award-winning beers during his career so far. Sam is an experienced judge, regularly participating on panels at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards and SOBA National Homebrew Competition.  

Shane Morley, Table Captain

A qualified master brewer with over 25 years’ experience in the industry, Shane is currently Operations Manager at Steam Brewing Company. Shane’s products have been awarded over 300 medals and trophies at New Zealand and international beer awards. Shane has also judged at the World Beer Cup USA, Australian International Beer Awards, Independent Brewers Association (Australia) Craft Beer Awards and Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards. 

Stephen Plowman, Table Captain

Stephen first attempted making beer during his Otago University years. Undeterred by the facial expressions of his peers, he foisted brew after brew upon them, ever so gradually honing his craft while obtaining a Degree in Geology. Stephen later took an unpaid internship at a Perth craft brewery and the rest, as they say, is history. These days he owns his own Auckland-based brewery Hallertau, where he throws caution to the wind in the brew tanks and develops some of Riverhead’s finest beers.   

Tracy Banner, Table Captain

Affectionately referred to as “the mother of NZ brewing”, Tracy is the owner and Master Brewer at Sprig & Fern Brewery. She recently celebrated 35 years in the brewing industry and was awarded the Morton Coutts Trophy from the Brewers Guild of New Zealand in recognition of her outstanding achievements in the industry. Tracy has spent her working life learning, developing and perfecting her beer and cider making craft in the UK and New Zealand and now enjoys giving back to the industry through judging and mentoring. 

Alex Biedermann

Starting his career in his native Germany, Alex has over 20 years’ experience in the beer industry. A qualified Brewer and Maltster, he also holds a Master Brewer (Diplom Braumeister) qualification from the Technical University of Munich in Weihenstephan. His work has included dozens of brewing projects in over 20 countries including New Zealand, where he now resides. His local beer judging experience includes the Australian International Beer Awards and the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards. 

Anita Mitchell

Anita first fell in love with the beer industry while volunteering at a brewery in France in 2012. Upon her return to New Zealand, she started at Three Boys Brewery where she worked her way up from loading bottles on the line to brewing contract and house beers. She is now Assistant Brewer at McLeod’s Brewery in Waipu. Anita has judged at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards, Australian International Beer Awards and SOBA’s National Homebrew Competition.  

Caleb DeFrees

Caleb is the Production Manager at Gladfield Malt in Dunsandel, Canterbury, where he manages the production staff and day-to-day operations of the malt house. Caleb’s expertise combines a culinary background, including training at the Culinary Institute of America, a bachelor’s degree in Food Science from Cornell University and over 8 years’ experience in the New York restaurant scene with a Diploma in Brewing Modules through the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. He regularly judges beer competitions both in New Zealand and internationally. 

Colin Mallon

With over 20 years’ experience in the industry, Glasgow native Colin Mallon was impressed by the diverse and experimental New Zealand craft beer scene, where he’s now put down roots. Colin is Operations Director of the Malthouse and Fork & Brewer bars as well as one of the creators and Head of Sales for Fork Brewcorp. He has judged at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards and at the World Beer Cup, the largest competition of its kind. Colin is also responsible for the creation of the popular Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge which he launched in 2007.  

Emma Bell

Emma Bell developed a thirst for good beer in the sweltering heat of Sydney, Australia. After moving to Canada she seized the opportunity to work for a start-up craft brewery, Townsite Brewing, running tours and tastings. This experience contributed to a discerning palate, an appreciation for food and beverage pairings, as well as a keen interest in the science and witchcraft of brewing. Since returning to New Zealand in 2015, she has been brewing professionally at Kereru Brewing Company while building her capability as a professional beer judge. 

Jody Scott

Jody was born and raised in the cider region of the United Kingdom. He has a first class honours degree in winemaking and over 12 years’ wine and cider making experience. With experience throughout Europe, the USA, Australia and NZ, he now heads Zeffer’s cider making team and has led them to a number of prestigious cider awards. He has been a beer, wine, cider and spirits judge at the International Wine and Spirits Competition, International Wine Challenge, Air New Zealand Wine Awards, and the Australian Cider Awards. He’s been part of the beer judging panel at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards for the past four years. 

Joseph Wood

On a mission to find more flavoursome beers, Joseph Wood found his calling in homebrewing and later brewery ownership. Today, Joseph and his wife Christina own and operate the multi-award-winning Liberty Brewing Company now located in Helensville in Auckland’s northwest. He is admired for creating some of the country’s most progressive craft beers and for his fierce commitment to quality. In addition to his participation in the World Beer Cup in Nashville, he has also been a judge for the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards and New World Beer and Cider Awards for the last five years.

Keith Riley

Keith has been a Master Brewer for almost 20 years. He’s worked for big names such as Coors Brewers in the UK and is currently Head Brewer at Lion’s Pride Brewery in Auckland, where he’s responsible for all beer production and quality control. Keith is on the board of the Brewers Guild of New Zealand and has acted as a judge in their awards for the last six years. 

Kieran Haslett-Moore

Kieran is a founding partner and head brewer for North End Brewing Co, former beer specialist for Regional Wines and Spirits, beer writer for Capital magazine and a founding member of SOBA. He has been a beer judge since 2007, judging for BrewNZ, the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards, the NZ International Beer Awards and SOBA National Homebrew Competition. 

Mason Pratt

Since joining Emerson’s Brewery in 2012, Mason has made his way from warehousing and packaging to become a lead brewer. His role has a particular focus on research and new product development, and in 2017 he oversaw the 10th anniversary edition of their legendary ‘JP’ limited release Belgian-style ale. He has previous experience judging beer at both the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards and Australian International Beer Awards. 

Matt Warner

Matt is Co-Founder and Head Brewer at the award-winning Parrotdog brewery in Wellington. A student homebrewer with big ambitions, Matt (along with two other Matts) founded the company in 2011. The brewery has grown to a new facility and to win a slew of awards, including Champion International Small Brewery at the Australian International Beer Awards 2015, Champion Pilsner and IPA at New World Beer & Cider Awards 2018, Champion Medium Size Brewery at Brewers Guild of NZ Awards 2018, and Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge Champion 2018.

Ralph Bungard

Ralph discovered his true passion for good beer while working as a scientist at the University of Sheffield, going on to become the proud owner of Three Boys Brewery in Christchurch. He has had many years of association with the Brewers Guild of New Zealand as an Honorary Member and regularly judges beer competitions in New Zealand, Australia and Japan.

Søren Eriksen

Søren has more than a decade of brewing experience under his belt, progressing from homebrewer to professional brewer before establishing 8 Wired with his wife Monique in 2009. After being ‘gypsy brewers’ with no brewery to call home, they built their own facility in Warkworth in 2014. 8 Wired brews a wide range of beers but has a particular passion for barrel aged and sour beers. Søren has judged the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards numerous times, as well as other national and international competitions. 

Wendy Roigard

Wendy became immersed in the brewing industry 10 years ago, following a career as a hospitality industry columnist and consultant. With her newfound passion, Wendy created the project which became Valkyrie Brewing Co, launched in 2011, which has since produced numerous award-winning beers. She has also worked as a regional educator for the Brewers Guild Certificate in the Craft of Beer Qualification and in Beer Distribution. She has judged at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards since 2012, as well as the Australian International Beer Awards and many other local homebrew competitions and events.

Justin Oliver, Table Captain Cider

A qualified winemaker with over 20 years’ experience, Justin is also an accomplished cidermaker, producing a number of multi-award-winning ciders for several leading New Zealand cider companies. He is currently immersed in making delicious organic cider for Bohemian Cider in Matakana. He has served as a judge at the New Zealand Cider Awards since 2014 and The New World Beer & Cider Awards since 2015. 

Dylan Jauslin, Cider Judge

Dylan is a veteran of the Wellington beer scene and manager of Golding’s Free Dive, one of city’s premier bars. Dylan has served as a judge in the New Zealand Cider Awards and as an associate cider judge in the New World Beer & Cider Awards. When he can get away from the bar, he spends his weekends making cider and cultivating a small orchard of heritage apple trees at his rural property in the Wairarapa. 

Merophy Hyslop, Cider Judge

Merophy’s unshakeable interest in cider started with making her own from the apples in her small family orchard. She studied Viticulture & Oenology at university before embarking on an eight-year career in the wine industry. Working vintages around the world allowed her to also visit the famous cider areas of England and France, eventually leading her back to Nelson where she was Cidermaker & Innovator at Redwood Cider Co for five years. Now in the role of full-time mum, Merophy’s passion for tasting is still going strong and she continues to be involved in the industry through judging.

2019 Associate Judges

Julie Broderick

New World Balclutha

Cathy McCullum

New World Melodys Palmerston North

Joel Gray

New World Matamata

Adam Morris

New World Hillcrest

Scott Miller

New World Hillcrest

Andrew Watson

New World Blenheim

Jordan Evison

Funk Estate

Brayden Rawlinson

Tuatara


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