Lion named top brewery at New Zealand Beer Awards

Lion has been judged the nation's champion brewer for the first time.

Lion has been judged the nation's champion brewer for the first time.

Big brewer Lion has been named New Zealand's champion brewery at the 2015 beer awards.

Lion, owned by Japanese beverage giant Kirin, produces beers including Stella Artois, Steinlager, Guinness and the Mac's range.

It also produces regional brands including Waikato Draught and Speights and craft beer Emerson's, which it bought in 2012.

It beat 93 other New Zealand breweries and six international breweries to be crowned New Zealand's best brewery at the 2015 Brewers' Guild of New Zealand Beer Awards in Auckland on Saturday.

Lion produced beer Beck's also won best international lager and its Issac's Berry Cider won the fruit or flavoured category.

Lion national operations director Paul Woods said the award capped a big year for Lion.

"It's the best possible recognition any brewery can get, large or small," Woods said.

Earlier this year, Lion's Speight's 5 Malt Old Dark was named best amber/dark ale at the Australian International Beer Awards.

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New Zealand craft breweries have historically dominated the champion brewery category winning every year with the exception of Lion's major competitor, Heineken-owned DB winning in 2010.

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Brewers Guild chairman Bob King said New Zealand was enjoying a golden era in the variety and quality of beers produced.

"Each year, the task of judging at these awards becomes much harder."

Now in its ninth year, the awards were an international event attracting entries from throughout New Zealand and the world.  

All entries were rated by a panel of 25 national and international judges on aroma, colour, bitterness, flavour and presentation specific to each category.

Fairfax New Zealand journalist Jono Galuszka, who writes a beer blog for the Manawatu Standard, was crowned beer writer of the year.

The hotly contested pale ale category was won by Wellington's Fork Brewing and Auckland's Epic Brewing Company took out the strong pale ale category.

The best US ale style went to Bach Brewing in Auckland while Upper Hutt brewery Panhead Custom Ales won best New Zealand lager.

 - Stuff

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