Who Are These NZ Breweries Entering World Beer Cup?

So I got a press release from the Brewers Guild of New Zealand today about the New Zealand Breweries that entered the World Beer Cup. I’d like to find out more about the following breweries, so if you know anything please share. I do know Williams Warn, but unsure of the rules and how a home-brew equipment manufacture can entered a commercial beer awards. Any additional information or commentary you have would be great if you could share.

Who are these companies, what beers have they entered?

  • New Zealand Beer Ltd (Auckland)
  • The Fox Sporting Bar & Restaurant (Auckland)
  • WilliamsWarn (Auckland)
  • BrewStation (Auckland)
  • Long White Cloud Brewing



6 April 2016

Kiwi breweries fizzing for beer’s own “Olympics”

As the world’s best athletes finalise their preparations for this year’s Olympic Games, Kiwi brewers will be going for gold at their own Olympics, the World Beer Cup, in Philadelphia next month.

The biennial World Beer Cup, known as the “Olympics of Beer Competitions”, is the most prestigious beer competition in the world.  This year, 11 New Zealand breweries will compete against more than 2000 rivals from 63 countries for gold, silver and bronze medals.

The New Zealand breweries competing are:

  • Epic Brewing Company (Auckland)
  • Garage Project (Wellington)
  • Harrington’s Breweries (Christchurch)
  • LION (Auckland)
  • Long White Cloud Brewing
  • Moa Brewing Company (Marlborough)
  • ParrotDog (Wellington)
  • New Zealand Beer Ltd (Auckland)
  • The Fox Sporting Bar & Restaurant (Auckland)
  • WilliamsWarn (Auckland)
  • BrewStation (Auckland)

Brewers Guild of New Zealand president Emma McCashin said New Zealand breweries were highly regarded by their international peers.

“New Zealand has an incredibly proud tradition and talent for brewing. Each year the quality and range of styles being produced in New Zealand is getting better and Kiwi brewers punch well above their weight at beer awards around the world.

“It’s no wonder that New Zealand is enjoying a golden era in brewing.”

The World Beer Cup was the pinnacle of brewing excellence, McCashin said.

“The World Beer Cup is pretty unique in that there are medals only for first, second and third in each category. When there are literally thousands of high-quality entries from around the world across 90 different categories, getting a medal means you’re a member of world brewing’s elite.”

Only three New Zealand breweries have tasted success at the World Beer Cup.

LION won silver with its Speight’s Triple Hop Pilsner in 2014, with Wellington’s Garage Project also picking up silver with its Cockswain’s Courage Double Barreled Edition Porter the same year. Monteith’s Black Beer won bronze in 2000.

But the stellar growth and development of New Zealand’s $2.2 billion beer industry meant more global success was already brewing.

“The beers being produced here are already considered among the world’s best. We’ve got tremendous talent among the thousands of people involved in the brewing industry, from malt and hops production right through to bottling and distribution.

“It’s not just the great-tasting beers New Zealand breweries produce, New Zealand hops is in huge demand overseas, particularly on the West Coast of the United States. What we’re seeing now are huge opportunities in Asia, which is the next big export frontier for Kiwi brewing.”

In addition to the New Zealand breweries competing, a record number of New Zealand brewing experts will be taking part at the event as judges: Kelly Ryan and Colin Mallon (Fork & Brewer, Wellington), Stephen Plowman (Hallertau, Auckland), Joseph Wood (Liberty Brewing, Auckland), Greig McGill (Brewaucracy, Hamilton), Brian Watson (Good George, Hamilton), Shane Morley (Steam Brewing, Auckland) and Geoff Griggs (beer writer, Blenheim).

For further information about the World Beer Cup: http://www.worldbeercup.org/

How To Win The Beer Awards

This was originally just going to be a tasting of Renaissance Brewing Company beers, as they had won the Champion Small Brewery for the second time in a row at the 2014 AIBA (Australian International Beer Awards). It has evolved into things I think about when looking at results and when thinking about entering my beers into competitions.

It started with the thought about “hey I should get my hands on all the award-winning Renaissance beers so I can and see what makes them the Champion Small Brewery two years in a row.”

In Auckland, specifically Lunn Ave there were only 5 available of the 11 medal beers – from 13 beers entered. The stores visited were PaknSave, New World and Fine Wine Delivery Co. It turned out to be a good sample. Below is the name of the beer / best before date/ medal won and tasting notes.
Renaissance Champion Small BreweryVoyager IPA – Mar 15 – Silver aroma subtle sweet fruity. OK, low hops, no faults, lingering bitterness, did well in category. Seemed to be lacking hop intensity for the style.
Elemental Porter – Aug 14 –  Bronze – very tasty, biscuity, good mouth feel, good balance and drinkability, smooth chocolate, caramel, clean finish. Seems unlucky it only got a Bronze medal.
Craftsman Chocolate Oatmeal Stout – May 15 – Bronze  no cobwebs under cap**. aroma dry toast, cold coffee, burnt wood, burnt fruit toast.  taste cocoa, but needs a little more body, little acrid in the finish, more sweetness like the Porter.  (Drank the Epic Coffee & Fig afterwards totally changes the Epic beer, big hops and figs. Great beer match – try these two beers together).
Stonecutter – Mar 15 – Silver  sheep manure, agricultural, peaty, blue cheese, farmyard, smoked peat. Good medal. very balanced, and drinkable. Probably my favourite and most balanced out of the five we tried. I love Scotch Ales.
Tribute Barley Wine 2011 – No Best Before* – Silver – aroma biscuity and husky, grainy, burnt hazelnuts, rasiny, viscous, cloying sweetness, misses something in the mid palate. (* did you know you do not have to put a best before date on a beer bottle if the beer is going to be good beyond two years.)

Overall it seemed like a pretty solid range of tasty well made beers that medalled well. Congratulations to Andy and Brian at Renaissance for taking out another great award. Nothing like consistency to show people how great your range of beers are.

The next question that came to mind was what is the criteria that for winning this trophy?

Awarded to the international brewery with an annual production volume up to & including 5,000hL which has the highest average score from the four top scoring exhibits entered by the brewery.

Here is where I go off on to “How To Win The Beer Awards”

There are many beer awards competitions around the world, and after looking at them and their rules, there are ways you can improve your chances of winning an award.

Take the above for example “highest average score from the four top scoring exhibits entered by the brewery”. To me this reads “enter as many beers as you can” (it will cost you more money) but it increases your chances as it is your four highest scoring beers.

Other ways of increasing your chances

  • Plan your brewing schedule so that all your beers are super fresh and ready at time shipping to meet deadlines at the last possible moment.

  • What package type. If you can send kegs, do so as you are less likely to have issue with oxidation

  • Shipping conditions.  Ship the beer cold, and as fast as possible. Make sure you look after the beer the best you can, to give it the best chance. Time and temperature are working against you.

  • Play the numbers game. There are always classes where the number of entries is significantly lower than the popular ones like Pale Ale and IPA. AIBA as example, there were only three entries in the Scotch Ale class. This would be an obvious place to enter a beer next year.

  • Top end of style. Make sure your beer is at the top end of the style guidelines as it will stand out to the judges. If your beer is has the best aroma and greatest flavour, the highest IBU and ABV it is going to be marked better. Even though each beer is judged to the style guidelines and presented to the judge so they have no idea where the beer is from, after tasting a number of beers the same, the big ones are always going to do better.

  • Add enough hops. After judging both the World Beer Cup and the Australia International Beer Awards recently, the biggest thing that stood out was not enough hops for style. Judging Pale Ales, IPA’s and Imperial IPA’s the most common comment from the judges was “lacks hops for style”. So many of these beers just didn’t have enough hops. Maybe it is a reflection on how hard it is to get enough hops in this current market.

All of the above assumes that the brewer entering is making good beer that has no technical faults.

If any other judges and or brewers want to add to this list of ways to win the beer awards, please added your comments below.




Renaissance Cobwebs** we did notice mould under a number of the Renaissance caps, maybe the use of a water sprayer after the beer has been capped might solve this issue.

Confessions Of A World Beer Cup Judge

I was a judge at the 2014 World Beer Cup in Denver, CO, USA 7th-9th April.

It is a privilege to be selected to judge in this competition, as it is considered the Olympics of Beer. The World Beer Cup is held every two years, and I first started judging WBC in 2006.


219 judges from 31 countriesWorld Beer Cup 2014 Statistics

4,754 entries from 1403 breweries in 58 countries

2014 saw a record number of beer judges judging at the World Beer Cup. 219 judges from around the world. 166 judges (76%) were International, and 53 judges (24%) were US based.

Best quote from Chris Swersey, Competition Manager, as he addressed all of the World Beer Cup judges was..

“..this is a room of the most highly trained beer judges in the world.”

First day of judging. Have a good breakfast. Make sure you don’t use scented shampoo, after shave, or deodorant (anything that is highly scented is not allowed to be used by judges or stewards on days of judging, any scent could put a judge off). The bathrooms had special non-scented hand soap to use during the judging.

Judging starts at 9am, so people usually arrive at their table about 8.50am. A table will have 7 judges. Generally the judges represented seven different nations. One example of judges countries I experienced at the table was Japan, Norway, Poland, Germany, Brazil, UK, and New Zealand.

This diversity of judges, brings many different experiences relating to beer to the table.

This is one of my favourite parts of being an international judge. Meeting new people from around the world that have the same passion for beer. It is incredible that so many people from so many different countries, have the same level of intensity and passion for beer that I do.

World Beer Cup 2006
Sample glasses for judging at World Beer Cup (photo taken 2006)

The first round comes out. You potentially get up to 12 different beer samples for the category you are judging. You get plastic cups, branded Brewers Association, and a fill line at 1.5oz (approx. 44ml)

People have been surprised when I say they are served in plastic cups. When you start looking at the numbers you realise that it is logistically impossible to use glass, and get it washed and dried to re-use again in a reasonable time.

So nearly 5000 beers x a first round pour x 3 judges = 15,000 cups. Then there are multiple rounds for some styles and medal rounds include 7 judges, and occasionally repours. So lets say you need 30,000 cups. Plastic seems like the logical way of handling this huge number.

(Security and integrate has become a big part of the competition. You have to power down your phone during sessions. If you are caught using your phone in a session you are not allowed to return to the table to judge for the rest of the session).



The morning session of Judging runs from 9am to 12.30pm. Then there is an hour lunch break. The afternoon session runs from 1.30pm to 5pm. There were two sessions on Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th, with Wednesday 9th having a morning session only.

Sometimes session will run long if the job of judging the beers is not complete. Many times when it comes to a medal round, there can be extended debate to discuss which beers are worthy of what medals. (Monday my lunch hour was short as we over ran by 15 mins, and on Tuesday my afternoon session didn’t finish till 5.45pm, as we discussed what medals for which beers)

Judging World Beer Cup Sample CupThere can be a number of rounds for a style. For example American-Style IPA had 224 entries. It had four rounds to judge the entries. First round there would likely be 12 beers sent to the table. From this judges select three beers to put forward to the next round. The second round will be 12 beers, made up of the 3 best beers from four different tables. The third round will again take the three best from 4 different tables, and the final round could be 9 – 12 beers which are made up of the best from the previous round.

As a judge who is a brewer, who could enter beers, there are criteria for what you are and aren’t allowed to judge. If a judge enters beers, or is affiliated with a brewery that enters beers. That judge is excluded from judging the categories beers are entered into. So there is no possible influence the judge can have on the beer or category.

As a judge you are presented with all samples in the uniform BA plastic cup, which has a sample number on it. It could be “14909” for example. All you know is the category you are judging, and you use the style guidelines to judge it.  You are judging this beer blind. There is no indication of brand or country. It is just a beer in a cup with a number on it.

The fun part comes when you get judges that have differing interpretations of a style, or ranking of the three medal beers. This is when your skills of persuasion come to play. You sometimes have to explain and convince other judges of your point of view, with the backing of the style guidelines to highlight your argument.

The follow video gives you a pretty good idea of what it looks like at a table of judges, judging beers. This is from the Great American Beer Festival, which uses the same judging format as the World Beer Cup. Both competitions are run by the Brewers Association.

The following video was filmed with some of the World Beer Cup 2014 judges and was played at the Awards Ceremony prior to the announcement of the awards. It really highlights the global nature of not only the entries but also the judges.  The list of Winners from the 2014 World Beer Cup

Here is another recent article about judging from Geoff Griggs, who also calls out the two Kiwi medal winners. Well done Garage Project and Speight’s. It ain’t easy getting one of these medals.

Mitch Steel from Stone Brewing Co. has also just written about judging at the World Beer Cup. He goes into way more detail.  – World Beer Cup Judging

P.S. As an International Beer Judge, I got to jump on a bus on the Sunday before judging with a bunch of other international beer judges and visit some breweries. More here…

APRIL 2014 – Judging 500+ Beers In 68 Hours + 30,000km Travel

As I did last month, rather thank looking back I am looking forward.

So here we go for April, and I’m keeping it brief as I should really be packing my suitcase right now.

2 & 3 April – San Francisco
4 April – Santa Rosa, Russian River Brewing Company
5 April – SFO to DEN
6 April – Brewery tour in Fort Collins, CO with International Judges (I’m guessing it will be New Belgium and O’Dell Brewing, TBC)
7-9 April – Judging World Beer Cup
10-11 April – Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America Trade Show
12 April – DEN-LAX-AKL
14 April – arrive in AKL
18-21 April – Easter (hopefully catch up on some sleep)
24 April – #freshhopnz14 beer launch at The Lumsden Freehouse
26 April – 2 May – Judging AIBA (Australian International Beer Awards)

Beer JudgingAs you can see this month is a lot of international travel and a lot of judging beer. I will have a total of 8.5 days x 8 hours of judging beer this month, which is 68 hours of sitting with some of the worlds best beer in front of me, where I have to write comments about them, and decide if they are worthy of an award.

I am potentially going to taste 500+ different beers in that time. WOW!

And I will have travelled 30,000km in this time.

That is 1000km per day.