Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CT Column 8/09/2010 : The Best?

EVERY year I spend a lot of time after BrewNZ explaining how beer judging works.
People often struggle to understand the results and what they mean. With mainstream brewer DB being crowned champion this year there is more misunderstanding than ever. When beers are entered into competition they are entered in one of 95 different style categories.
The beers are then served blind to a panel of judges and are evaluated for their technical merit and for how accurately they adhere to style. The beers are evaluated once as to whether they are medal worthy, and then those that are medal beers are judged again by a second panel and awarded gold, silver or bronze.
The trophy is then awarded to the highest ranked beer in each category that is commercially available in New Zealand. This system means that beers are always evaluated for what they are rather than according to the subjective tastes of the judges.
There are styles to cover every type of beer imaginable from low alcohol, Gluten Free and New Zealand Draught right through to super strength barleywines, highly hopped double IPA’s and beers spiced with Manuka.
In short the most mundane of beers can achieve gold medal status when brewed well and entered in the correct style category just as the most flavoursome boundary pushing beers can.
This year, for the third time, BrewNZ awarded the Champion Brewer Trophy to the brewery with the highest scoring top three beers. For the last two years craft brewers have taken the trophy with Tuatara being followed by Emerson’s last year.
This year DB performed very well taking gold medals in the New Zealand Lager and Low Carbohydrate Categories and a Silver in the New Zealand Draught Category, the picture is of a mainstream brewer doing what it does well but is hardly an advert for imaginative or character full brewing.
Luckily there were plenty of other results to get excited about. Hot on DB’s heels was Christchurch’s Three Boys Brewery. Three Boys managed a stunning comeback from last year when they defied many expectations and earned no medals to this year where they took Gold and Best in Class Trophies for both Oyster Stout and their festive brew Pineapple Lump Porter, Silver for Golden Ale and bronze for Wheat.
Emerson’s kept up their enviable record with nine medals including the wheat beer trophy for Dunkelweiss.
Blenheim’s 8 Wired took a Trophy and Gold Medal for The Big Smoke Porter, Yeastie Boys took a Silver for Yakima Monster and a Bronze for Her Majesty, and Christchurch’s Twisted Hop took out the newly created Cask Ale trophy.
Go to www.brewnz.co.nz to see the full results.

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