The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

New Zealand brewers win big

New Zealand owned and locally-made brands have been named the big winners in this year’s New World Beer & Cider Awards.

From the Gisborne brewery that kick-started our craft beer revolution in the 1980s, to one founded in a Hastings shed just a few years ago; and with teams ranging from a husband and wife duo brewing on their Taupo farm, to those working from state of the art facilities in the craft beer capital of Wellington – these are just some of the Kiwi breweries recognised in the 2020 New World Beer & Cider Awards Top 30 announced today.

Chair of Judges, beer writer and author Michael Donaldson says the winning list exemplifies what the local brewing industry has to offer and the country’s beer and cider lovers have plenty to get excited about.

“These awards are open to entries from all over the world, but New Zealand brewers proved their might once again,” he says. “Almost all of the Top 30 winners are New Zealand made and owned, being crafted in all corners of the country by some of our best brewing talents.”

Of the Top 30, 29 are made in New Zealand, with the Swinkels Family Brewers from The Netherlands contributing the only true import with their 0% alcohol beer –  the first non-alcohol beer to make the podium in the awards’ history.

Chair of Judges Michael Donaldson

All of the Top 30 beers and ciders are now available nationwide through New World supermarkets, providing a well-timed boost for the winning businesses and a great opportunity for shoppers to support local.

“The winners list brings together the country’s best – from our oldest and most-celebrated brands, to the new brewers worth taking notice of,” says Donaldson.

“Sunshine Brewing from sunny Gisborne has been a much-loved craft beer powerhouse for more than 30 years, and we are delighted to see them in the Top 30 with two fantastic modern beers.

“Similarly, Zeelandt Brewery – one of Hawke’s Bay’s first modern craft breweries, wowed the judges with their Black Monk dark lager, while Renaissance Brewing made a comeback with a win for their flagship Elemental Porter.”

Newer breweries to the Top 30 included Brave Brewing – now a local Hawke’s Bay favourite, and Lakeman Brewing – run by a husband and wife team who brew with bore water from their idyllic farm overlooking Lake Taupo.

“We were also pleased to have Kaikoura’s Emporium Brewing back again this year. Their win last year was a welcome relief when the business was hit by the Kaikoura earthquakes, and it will be a similar story this year for a small team that contributes to its local economy through its brewing, hospitality and tourism offerings.”

Wellington showed why it is the undisputed craft beer capital of New Zealand, with Garage Project, Parrotdog and Panhead, as well their fellow Brewtown businesses Kererū and Boneface, all making the Top 30 with everything from a funky sour to a big barrel-aged Imperial Stout.   

Auckland delivered too of course, with breweries based in the big smoke and beyond featuring in the top-30 including Epic, with two pale ales, Bach Brewing and Behemoth, Sawmill from Matakana, 8-Wired from Warkworth, and Northland’s own McLeod’s based in Waipu, who also had two beers in the top-30.

Other well-known names in craft beer such as Good George, Sprig & Fern and Three Boys also made the Top 30 as returning winners.

The cider crowns also went to repeat winners Good George from the Waikato, Zeffer from the Hawke’s Bay, and Peckham’s – a family-owned business that farms cider apples in Nelson.

Rounding out the Top 30 were two light options – Heineken Light, brewed in Auckland, and the awards’ first ever 0% alcohol winner, Bavaria 0.0% Wit which stunned the judges with its excellence in retaining traditional Witbier flavours without the alcohol.

An independent judging panel, comprising of 25 experts from across the industry, and eight associate judges-in-training, put their palates to the test over two days of intense judging in Wellington in early March. Each entry was judged blind and assessed on its merits using a collaborative approach based on technical excellence, balance and, most importantly, drinkability.

A full list of the Top 30 winning beers and ciders, as well as the 70 Highly Commended brews, can be found at

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