The Lakeman Brewing Co crew at the Tukairangi Rd brewery with the champion strong pale ale the Hairy Hop IPA.

A last-minute decision to attend the prestigious Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards meant local brewers Lakeman Brewing Co picked up a swag of accolades, including the champion strong pale ale trophy for their Hairy Hop Indian pale ale (IPA).

Lakeman Brewing Co head brewer Rory Donovan, 23, from Tirohanga, said it was a nice feeling knowing he is making one of the best IPAs in the country.

Co-owner Elissa Cooper says that the win is the beer equivalent of taking away the award for the champion sauvignon blanc at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

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"We were up against 143 other breweries, mainly from New Zealand, but some entries also from Australian and the United States," says Elissa.

Lakeman Brewing Co has been making beer on a commercial scale for just five years, and Elissa says they are quite a young company to be brewing a top New Zealand beer.

The gold medal winning beer, the Hairy Hop IPA is one of the core beers sold by Lakeman Brewing Co, and co-owner James Cooper says they have more or less stuck with the original recipe he created five years ago.

"The Hairy Hop IPA is our best seller. It also won a silver at the 2018 Australian International Beer Awards ," says James.

James loves creating new beers but says staying on top of beer production and running a 290ha farming operation keeps them busy enough, and finding tap space for a new beer is a real challenge.

"We work six days a week and try and work a part day on Sundays. I spend a lot of time bottling beer."

Lakeman Brewing Co's latest offering is a double IPA, Dirty Harry, that won a bronze medal. Altogether the brewery won 13 medals, and James says a key factor in their success is the purity of the Lake Taupō water used.

Beer from the brewery is sold in bars, restaurants and supermarkets throughout New Zealand, although James says that they still have a long way to go to improve distribution.

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The beers are at Vine Eatery, Ploughmans Restaurant & Bar and Lake Taupō Holiday Resort, and James says in future they would like to open a tasting room at the Tukairangi Rd brewery.