Students from Otago Polytechnic’s Central Otago based brewing certificate programme will now have the opportunity to put their palates to the test as associate judges of the New World Beer and Cider Awards.

The new scholarship for select students was announced today at the New World Beer and Cider Awards judging in Wellington.

The offer will see up to two students each year given a place at the awards judging tables, including covering the costs of their travel and accommodation, so they can learn the ropes of beer judging from some of the country’s most respected experts.

Chair of Judges for the awards, Michael Donaldson, expects the scholarship slots to be extremely sought-after. “Many of our senior judges have worked in the industry for years before moving into judging, so getting the chance to do this early on in your training is pretty special. Our collaborative approach to beer judging also makes for a great learning environment for up-and-coming talent and we are all really pleased to be able to give a little back to the industry in this way.”

He added that while judging is always fun, it’s also fast-paced and carries the responsibility of critiquing products that brewers have put their hearts and souls into. “Judges have to have the sensory skills as well as a way with words to capture what they experience with each entry. While their scores do not count towards the final results, they are a critical part of the table, contributing to the discussion and keeping notes.”

Brewing lecturer, Geoff Collie spoke about how the scholarship was a great fit with the Polytechnic’s approach to the new training courses – New Zealand’s first ever suite of NZQA approved brewing qualifications, which have been crafted to meet industry needs and support practical learning

In addition to theory, students will also be getting their hands dirty at Rough Rock Brewing Co, the brand new commercial brewery-come-classroom that makes up an important and distinctive part of the courses.

“What we are offering is a flip model of education, what this means is that students need to come to class pre-studied on the topic to contribute to a higher level of learning. As the first suite of brewing qualifications in New Zealand, it really is the best opportunity for a career pathway into the industry. Our aim? To craft the brewers of the future,” said Collie.