BrewNZ has come and gone again. This year, as well as the judging and awards, we saw a welcome return to the public side of the event with the “Beervana” festival. While not quite taking over the whole of Wellington like the ‘host bar’ concept used to do, I’ve heard an overwhelming majority of fantastic reports of the festival (I was in craft-beer-barren Queenlsand at the time, so can only rely on reports from the field).
There was a new aspect to the awards side of things too, with a Champion New Zealand Brewery being awarded to the brewery with the best overall results. Did you know that the Tuatara Brewery in the hills of Waikanae, near Wellington, was named New Zealand’s best brewery? If not, then you haven’t been paying attention on Friday afternoons.
Tuatara and brewer Carl Vasta (pictured right checking out his brew) picked up gold medals and best-in-class trophies for their Belgian-style Ardennes and their hoppy India Pale Ale, as well as an extra gold medal for Hefe, their delicious German-style wheat beer. Tuatara is about the only NZ brewery without a website … is there a correlation there? Rather than build a website, Tuatara recently tripled their batch size – I wonder if they knew something was coming their way? It’s the perfect timing to take advantage of such a fantastic (and well-deserved award) award. Hopefully this will lead to a greater availability of these splendid beers.
Nipping on the heels of Carl Vasta and his Tuatara team was Steve Nally, from Invercargill Brewery in the Deep South, who picked up two best-in-class trophies for the second year running – and this included the highly-coveted Classic New Zealand styles (which, for the first time, included the hugely popular ‘NZ Pilsner’ style). Interestingly, I’ve found that Steve’s award-winning Biman lager has been one of the most talked about beers in the Wellington beer scene this year, and it is still not on tap anywhere in town. I don’t expect the drought to last much longer!
You couldn’t meet two more down to earth beer loving brewers than Carl Vasta and Steve Nally. These awards prove that head-down hard work really does pay off (and a little bit of luck and timing surely helps).
Interestingly, the awards do not always reflect the public affection for beer. I've done an unscientific survey of people (read: I “googled” everything I could find about BrewNZ and Beervana) and picked up this list of “crowd favourites” that I have listed for you below, of which Epic Pale Ale is the only award winner amongst them!
- Croucher Pale Ale
- Epic Pale Ale
- Renaissance Bourbon Porter
- The Mussel Inn Lambergreeny
- The Twisted Hop’s Goldings Bitter and Skull Buggery (two beers from one brewery)
- Townshend’s No. 9 Stout
- Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black
How many of these beers have you heard of? Did you know about BrewNZ and Beervana? Did you attend? And, if so, what did you think?
Anyway, tonight I’m drinking Emerson’s Bookbinder - the beer that pulled me over from casual drinker of good beer to bona-fide beer geek. At only 3.7% abv, and absolutely packed full of flavour, it is a near perfect end-of-week tipple for a thirsty guy like myself. And isn’t it great to be able to fill-your-own flagon at the excellent Regional Wines and Spirits (if only there was a prize for best bottle store).
Many of these beers, if not already in your local beer retailers or pub, are available through the new online Beerstore or via mail order at Regional Wines and Spirits.
Slainte mhath, Stu