When you are a small company trying to break into a major international market, it's nice to have your work recognised.
So for Waipū's McLeod's Brewery, being crowned Champion Small International Brewery at the Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA) is massive.
But it wasn't just one or two of the entries that earned McLeod's the title. The company won a trophy and 11 medals — including a gold, five silvers and a bronze — at last week's awards.
The company is co-owned by brothers Clayton and Geoff Gwynne, and its head brewer is Jason Bathgate.
It was Bathgate's innate knowledge of what made a good beer that helped win the accolades, Geoff Gwynne told the Northern Advocate the morning after the awards ceremony in Melbourne.
''It was brilliant. It was pretty overwhelming coming away with all the medals and the overall award as Champion Small International Brewery. There were around 2600 brews entered so it's saying something about ours that we won,'' Geoff said.
''Jason is a hugely talented brewer and we are so very lucky to have him with us.''
Having started out about five years ago, it was a huge honour to win the awards, but it was fair reward for the effort they had all put in, he said.
Geoff said Australia was interested in New Zealand brews and he hoped the wins would open a few doors for McLeod's across the Tasman.
The day after the win, Geoff and Bathgate were meeting with industry representatives to try to get some of McLeod's brews on shop shelves over there.
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''The reaction to NZ beer here is enormous.''
Bathgate said the win was absolutely stunning.
''We really didn't expect to win anything," he said. "We're still reeling."
The win is one of many accolades and medals in the past three years for the small Northland brewery.
It won the trophy for Longboarder Lager as Champion International Lager from the Brewers Guild of New Zealand in 2017.
McLeod's also received the 2018 Society of Beer Advocates (SOBA) New Zealand Beer of the Year award in 2018 for Paradise Pale Ale, and followed that in 2019 as runner-up.
Conducted by The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV), the AIBA is the world's largest annual beer competition judging packaged and draught beer. In its 27th year, this year was the AIBA's biggest yet, with 2594 entries from 402 Australian and international exhibitors, making the win for McLeod's all the more thrilling.
When brothers Geoff and Clayton Gwynne started McLeod's Brewery, they'd already put in a few years behind the scenes at Waipū's iconic Pizza Barn.
They had owned the little go-to spot since 2003, and in 2014 decided to stop serving "big" beer and brew their own. It was a bold move bringing independent beer to Northland.
With Bathgate on board since 2016, McLeod's has built a reputation for one simple thing: making good beer.
Awards the brewery takes home from AIBA are:
• Champion Small International Brewery
• Trophy – Best Amber/Dark Ale – Traders Scotch Ale
• Medal/Bronze – Longboarder Lager – International Lager
• Medal/Silver – Tropical Cyclone Double IPA – Imperial/Double IPA
• Medal/Bronze – Heathen Session Pale Ale – Other IPA
• Medal/Silver – Pioneer Brown Porter – Best Porter/Regular/Brown Porter
• Medal/Silver – Smugglers Bay Dubbel – Best Belgian/French Style Ale
• Medal/Gold – Smugglers Bay Tripel – Best Belgian/French Style Ale
• Medal/Bronze – Smugglers Bay Red Sour Ale – Wood & Barrel Aged Sours
• Medal/Silver – Black Rye Sour Ale – Wood & Barrel Aged Sours
• Medal/Silver – Paradise Pale Ale – Best New World-style Pale Ale
• Medal/Bronze – Great Migration IPA – Best IPA/American-style
• Medal/Bronze – Bonnie Brett Pale Ale 2018 – Other Speciality Beers