All eyes are on IPAs in this year's New World Beer and Cider Awards, with seven different approaches to the style being rewarded by judges.
"If you thought you knew IPA, now is definitely the time to taste it again," said chair of Judges Michael Donaldson, who led the expert panel responsible for finding the best brews out of more than 600 local and international entries.
"IPA, or India Pale Ale, is a popular but sometimes polarising style with a reputation for being big on hops and bitterness – it's probably won over as many beer-drinkers as it has scared off over the years. But that's changing as the style branches off in new and exciting directions that are pleasing existing IPA fans as well as winning over new ones."
The IPA category winners in the awards this year include beers that "break the rules" of classic IPAs which, up until the last few years, have been modelled off the intense West-Coast US style, he said.
"Lately, there's been all sorts of developments in the IPA world and it's evident our New Zealand brewers have been busy experimenting and refining their techniques to create these stunning new beers," said Donaldson.
"The winners have served up something for everyone in this category – from traditional full-flavoured beers, to more laid-back session and low-alcohol beers, with sweeter, hazy and fruity options in between."
Some of the winning IPAs accent the sweeter, tropical fruit flavours found in hops and downplay the bitterness, to create beers with wide appeal to all drinkers, he said.
From today, the top 30 beers and ciders will be available in New World stores nationwide.
Describing this year's awards as "the best yet", Donaldson said the competition delivered the widest range of flavours and the best quality products the judging panel have seen over its five-year history.
"From a cider that tastes like rum and raisin, to a feijoa ale, to some of the best dark beers you'll lay your hands on, there is so much to try and explore. Alongside experimental brews, there is also a range of classical styles; like a German doppelbock, a Belgian Witbier and a traditional keeved cider that has to be tasted to be believed."
A full catalogue of tasting notes to accompany each winning beer is available instore and online.
Around 100 beer and cider-makers from New Zealand and overseas entered more than 630 products into the 2019 New World Beer and Cider Awards.
The entries were blind-judged by a panel of 24 independent, expert judges using a collaborative method based on technical excellence, balance, mouthfeel, and most importantly, drinkability.