Finding the best beers and ciders among almost 600 entries is no easy job, but a group of expert judges have stepped forward and put their palates to this very challenge for the 2018 New World Beer & Cider Awards.
The 16-strong panel of brewers and beer and cider experts gathered for two full days of judging at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium this week where they swirled, sniffed and sipped their way through the vast array of different brews, and debated and rated each one on technical excellence, balance, mouthfeel and most importantly, drinkability.
In the biggest year yet for the competition, entries were up by more than 70, including beers and ciders from over 20 breweries entering the awards for the very first time.
The awards will now culminate in New World stores across the country later this year, with all the Gold medal winners earning a space on the shelves and a spot in the handy booklet of judges’ tasting notes.
Chair of independent judges, beer writer and author Michael Donaldson said the integrity of the New World Beer & Cider Awards is evident through the judging talent involved.
“The awards continue to attract some of the best names in the business, as well as up and coming New Zealand talent. As Chair of Judges, it’s rewarding to see such a cross-section of this growing and evolving industry represented on the judging panel," said Donaldson.
“Together they bring a great mix of experience and enthusiasm to each table. Their well-honed tasting abilities, coupled with a carefully managed judging process, means New World customers can choose a Gold medal-winning beer or cider with confidence, knowing it meets the highest standards of its class.”
The blind-tasting and judging process is held to international standards under the watchful eye of Chief Steward Craig Bowen. He ensures entries are classed and judged appropriately, served in prime condition and that no judge tastes their own product.
Donaldson said that while judges will mark and debate each beverage on its technical merits, great taste remains the defining factor for a medal.
“There has been lots of sipping and discussion, but the ultimate brief is clear – medal winning beers have to have great flavour and balance.”
The worthy entries are awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, with the coveted Champion presented to the top entry in each class. Champion and Gold medal brews then gain nationwide distribution through 135 New World stores.
Now in its fourth year, Managing Director Foodstuffs New Zealand Steve Anderson said New World designed the awards to better connect beer and cider-keen customers with the best brews on the market.
“Our beer and cider offering continues to grow off the back of increasing consumer interest in the category. We want to deliver the best for our customers and give talented brewers the recognition they deserve in store," said Anderson.
“New Zealand brewers and cidermakers have performed extremely well in this competition in the past and we are proud to reward them with a space on the shelf during our awards promotion period. The opportunity for nationwide distribution through New World stores can have an incredible impact on a brand and business, even for those more established breweries.
“We also know it can be hard for customers to navigate the range of beers and ciders now available. The Gold endorsement from such a respected group of judges can take the confusion out of selection, so customers can enjoy experimenting with new products.”
New World beer & Ciders Awards 2018 Judging Panel
- Michael Donaldson, beer writer and author (Chair of Independent Judges)
- Geoff Griggs, beer writer and author
- Justin Oliver, Free Range Wines
- Kieran Haslett-Moore, North End Brewing
- Sam Williamson, Sawmill Brewing
- Shane Morley, Steam Brewing Company
- Tracy Banner, Sprig and Fern Brewery
- Wendy Roigard, Valkyrie Brewing Co
- Gabe Cook, ‘The Ciderologist’
- Brian Watson, Good George Brewing
- Jono Galuszka, beer writer
- Mason Pratt, Emerson’s Brewery
- Jason Bathgate, McLeod’s Brewery
- Soren Eriksen, 8 Wired Brewing
- Merophy Hyslop, cidermaker
- Stephen Wood, Hallertau Brewery