There's a beer revolution going on at Waipu, with the owners of McLeod's Brewery determined to change the drinking habits of the country into appreciating fine craft beer.
And the plan is already paying dividends, with McLeod's Brewery coming away with three medals - including a gold - for its brews at the weekend's prestigious New World Beer and Cider Awards.
The brewery won gold for its Tropical Cyclone Double India Pale Ale, which certainly tickled the tastebuds of the competition judges.
"Head brewer Jason Bathgate has worked wonders with the brews in the past year, and the Tropical Cyclone is right up there alongside New Zealand's best double IPAs. [It has] huge tropical fruit aromas with the slightly musky, dank smell you get from ripe papaya. Great length, well balanced, clean and juicy," were some of the comments from this year's panel of independent judges.
The brewery also won a silver for its Paradise Pale Ale and a bronze for its Traders Scotch Ale. The awards have excited the brewery and its owners, brothers Geoff and Clayton Gwynne.
"It's a really beautiful brew, and we couldn't be happier winning gold for it," Geoff Gwynne said of the IPA.
He said with a limited number of gold medals issued for this year's event the win was "even sweeter".
"There were something like 520 entries and only 27 gold medals so this is a big deal for us," Mr Gwynne said. "It will now be sold in New World Stores around the country so that will expose us to far more people. And it hopefully tells people that we are making some really, really good brews."
He said the Tropical Cyclone Double IPA was a "big beer, in the sense that it's big on flavour and big on aroma. It's very flavoursome with a taste of tropical fruit and it's not hugely bitter. It has a nice smooth finish, which sounds odd for a beer that's quite strong at 8 per cent".
He expects the gold medal to really open up opportunities for the brewery, which will brew about 150,000 litres this year, and said it was important that there was a hint of Waipu in all the McLeod's brews.
"We get the biggest kick out of making something that's very much 'Waipu'. It gives us a sense of place."
He said the aim was to get more people to experience craft beer and the proliferation of small breweries like McLeod's was spreading the revolution.
"It's how it used to be. Small breweries making brews for their local areas," Mr Gwynne said.
Jason Bathgate, McLeod's head brewer, called the win "really quite wonderful" given that 2017 is the brewery's first year entering the competition.
"We're stunned and utterly rapt at getting no less than three medals with Gold on top of it all," he said.
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