The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Industry Insights: 1000 entries expected for Brewers Guild Awards

Martin Craig.

New Zealand’s biggest and best beer and cider competition will be held in Christchurch this October.

The Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards attracted a record 946 entries last year, and more than 1000 are likely this year.

In 2016, the big prize – Champion Brewer – went to Tuatara Brewing, making it the only brewery to claim it twice in the Awards’ 10-year history. Tuatara went on from this success to being bought by DB in February.

Champion Brewer is determined solely by a brewer’s medal tally in the judging rounds, so it too is effectively judged blind.

The Big BGONZA has gone to a wide range of breweries over the years. DB brought it home in 2010, as did Lion in 2015. It has gone to large independent brewers like Tuatara, Harrington’s and Emerson’s, and to some of the smallest brewers in the country, including 8-Wired and Townshend’s.

This wide scope shows the process is robust, and any brewer producing a consistently good range of beer is in with a chance.

The judging panel is certainly the most experienced assembled in New Zealand. Last year we had 30 judges, including international beer and cider experts, and New Zealanders who have judged overseas.

All judging is performed blind – the judges know the beer style, but don’t know who made it. A group of five assesses each entry, because everyone has different strengths in detecting aromas and flavours. Unlike some competitions, the entries are rated entirely on their own merits, with no requirements to supply commercial volumes at an agreed price.

There are a lot of logistics involved in serving 1000 beers and ciders at their best, and the Guild relies on a team of volunteers to manage the back of house. Experienced bar staff look after the all the kegs and bottles, and Massey University food technology students take on stewarding duties.

Entries close on 8 September, and the results will be announced on 7 October. For more information, visit

Martin is a beer writer, journalist and publisher of www.Beertown.NZ