The hoppy notes of India Pale Ale were one of the big winners at the Beer and Cider Awards this year. The other was Auckland.
The city is proving itself a beer powerhouse, with Auckland breweries taking out 10 of the 12 Champion awards for beers and ciders.
Judges blind-tested more than 500 beers and ciders to pick the winners of the awards, which are run by New World. Criteria for the winning tipples include drinkability, mouthfeel, balance and technical excellence.
Indian Pale Ale (IPA) is a favourite of craft brewers and the class was hotly contested this year. Judges sipped their way through more than 70 entries from 45 breweries from around the country, with Onehunga-based brewery Epic's Armageddon IPA winning for the second year in a row.
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Judging the often-bitter brew was difficult with so many strong contenders, beer writer and judging panel chair Michael Donaldson said.
"There are so many techniques to brewing an IPA, different ways to use hops, malt structure, bitter-sweet balance, level of alcohol, all of these create varied flavour profiles which the judges have to assess," he said.
"We've got long-established brewers such as Hawke's Bay Independent, whose Pure Lager was a revelation in the lager class, craft darlings ParrotDog, who produce a gem of a pilsner to win that class as well as relative newcomers such as Spark's Brewing, whose Outlander Extra Stout has only been around for a couple of years but has already made a name for itself as one of the best in the country."
He reserved special praise for two pale ales from Mt Eden's Bach Brewing. The family-owned company's Witsunday Blonde IPA was a "complex but approachable" beer while its Driftwood Pale Ale "packs in great flavour without being too high in alcohol", he said. Hamilton's Good George Brewing also stood out, he added.
"Good George showed there are plenty of ways to use hops, with a restrained dose in their very approachable Amber Ale to something different in their Drop Hop Cider."
2017 New World Beer & Cider Awards class Champions:
Class Brew Origin
IPA Epic Armageddon IPA Auckland
Pale Ale Bach Brewing Driftwood Pacific Pale Ale Auckland
Lager Hawke's Bay Pure Lager Hawke's Bay
Pilsner ParrotDog Pandemonium Wellington
British-style Ale Good George Amber Ale Hamilton
American-style Ale Deep Creek Dusty Gringo India Brown Ale Auckland
European-style Ale Delirium Nocturnum Belgium
Wheat & Other Grain Beer Bach Brewing Witsunday Blonde IPA Auckland
Stout, Porter & Black Beer Sparks Brewing Outlander Extra Stout Auckland
Specialty Beer Petrus Aged Pale Belgium
Apple & Pear Cider Scrumpy Apple Cider Gisborne
Fruit & Flavoured Cider Good George Drop Hop Cider Hamilton