The New World Beer and Cider Awards have received a record number of entries with over 100 breweries and cidermakers entering 640 of their best brews. The Top 30 winners will see their brews take pride of place atop New World shelves nationwide.

“Our challenge is bigger than ever this year,” says Chair of Judges, beer writer and author Michael Donaldson, who will oversee the independent panel of 24 beer and cider experts.

“With the aim of finding the best 30 beers and ciders on behalf of New World shoppers, we have the difficult, but delicious task of narrowing the entries down to less than 5 percent of the field. Luckily, we have some of New Zealand’s best brewing and cidermaking talents as well as hospitality experts and writers who are ready and willing to put their palates to the test.”

Judges work in teams and blind-taste around 40 to 50 beers or ciders a day over two days, debating and rating each one on technical excellence, balance, mouthfeel and most importantly, drinkability.

Donaldson revealed that while the technical merits of each beer and cider will be considered carefully by the judges, ‘great taste’ is the main brief and ultimate deciding factor for a place in the New World Beer and Cider Awards Top 30.

“With the help and hard work of the judges, the Top 30 list is destined to be a ‘go to’ for New World shoppers, whether they are after a great example of their favourite style or just eager to explore with confidence.”

IPA and Pale Ale are proving popular making up around 40 percent of the entries. Donaldson said the number of entries echoes increasing consumer demand for the styles and possibly a growth in brewers taking their product to the retail market thanks to more affordable packaging options.

“IPA has been the traditional craft beer darling. It’s what got people talking about craft beer, and the full-flavoured hoppy IPA quickly became symbolic of what the movement stood for. But there is a big range in IPAs, with the style extending through to more approachable Hazy IPAs and the newer Brut IPAs both of which don’t have that big accent on bitterness.”