A one-man craft beer operation in Nelson has been declared New Zealand's top brewery.
Townshend Brewery beat 83 others to be named champion at the eighth annual Brewers' Guild of New Zealand Beer Awards in Wellington tonight.
The win could be a boon for the small brewery, with New Zealand exports of craft beer set to triple over the next decade, according to research from ANZ.
The award ceremony was held on the eve of the two-day Beervana festival in Wellington, where punters will be able to try some 200 different craft beers.
Martin Townshend founded the winning brewery at his family home in Rosedale, near Nelson, in 2005. It remains a one-man operation, producing 50,000 litres of beer a year.
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Mr Townshend said the award was a massive accolade, and the icing on the cake of a couple of excellent years for the brewery.
"It seems like only yesterday that I created my first brew in the shed."
The secret to his success was passion, hard work and dedication to the task, he said.
"I still enjoy brewing now as much as I ever have and I think most brewers will tell you the same. That said, it's huge to be recognised and this award is the best possible recognition a brewer could get."
Townshend was also awarded the champion New Zealand manufacturer trophy. It also won the New Zealand-specific style category for its Oldhams Tap Riwaka Pilsner, and earned medals for 12 other brews.
The Boston Beer Company claimed the international champion award, while Invercargill Brewery's Steve Nally won the Morton Coutts Trophy for innovation or achievement.
Mr Nally came up with the idea of packaging low-carbonated draft beer into 20 litre bags to be used in bars with traditional English-style hand-pumps.
Competition manager Craig Bowen said the awards capped another vintage year for New Zealand brewing.
"Whether it's a one-man band or the larger more established breweries, New Zealand is enjoying a golden period in terms of the variety and quality of beers produced.
"That's what the awards are about -- recognising and celebrating excellence in our profession."
A record 670 beers from 74 local and 10 international breweries were entered in 15 categories this year.
The entries were rated against a style guide for each category for aroma, colour, bitterness, flavour and presentation.
A panel of 25 nationally and internationally qualified judges awarded a total of 61 gold, 121 silver and 169 bronze medals.
THE 15 WINNING BREWS
• European lager: Emersons Brewery (Dunedin), Gladiator Bock
• International lager: DB Draught Brewery (Timaru), Monteith's Black
• British ale: Wigram Brewing Company (Christchurch), Tornado Strong Ale
• Other European ale: Emersons Brewery (Dunedin), JP 2014
• US ale: ParrotDog (Wellington), BloodyDingo
• International ale: Panhead Custom Ales (Upper Hutt), Boss Hog
• Stout and porter: Three Boys Brewery (Christchurch), Three Boys Oyster Stout
• Wheat and other grains: Renaissance Brewing (Marlborough), Black the RIPA
• Flavoured and aged: Wigram Brewing Company (Christchurch), Captain Cook Spruce Beer
• New Zealand-specific: Townshend Brewery (Nelson), Oldhams Tap Riwaka Pilsner
• Specialty, experimental, aged, barrel, wood-aged: Panhead Custom Ales (Upper Hutt), Black Sabbath
• Cider and perry: Zeffer Cider Co. (Auckland), Slack ma Girdle Cider
• Cask-conditioned: Moa Brewery (Marlborough), Moa Five Hop Handpull
• Packaging: Tuatara Brewing (Kapiti), Delicious Neck
• Festive Brew: Behemoth Brewing (Auckland), Brave Bikkie Brown Ale
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