Brewers battle to find out who crafts the best

SOPHIE SPEER
Last updated 05:00 06/01/2013
Craft beer tasting
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ

TESTING BREWS: Craft beers and their 'faux' counterparts undergo blind testing yesterday.

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Could you tell the difference between a carefully brewed craft beer and one manufactured by an international brewery?

A group of beer lovers from Hashigo Zake craft beer bar in Wellington sought to find out by holding a blind taste test with craft and what they call "faux craft" beers yesterday afternoon.

The rise of craft breweries, which are growing in an otherwise shrinking industry, has resulted in major brewers such as Lion, DB Breweries and Independent Liquor creating their own boutique brands, referred to by beer geeks as "faux craft".

Yesterday's event pitted beers from the likes of Macs (Lion), Monteiths (DB) and Boundary Road (Independent), against smaller locally produced craft beers from Tuatara, Emersons and Epic.

Hashigo Zake co-owner Dominic Kelly said the tasting was to decide how mass-produced but well-marketed beers matched up against genuine craft brews.

"We wanted to know if any of these beers were actually quite good or confirm our suspicions that they wouldn't be that good. It's important to put these to the test and put our assumptions of what we would like to the side."

Sixteen beers were blind tasted in four categories - pilsners, wheat beers, pale ales and stronger dark beers - and participants discussed and debated which they thought were authentic and which were imposters.

In most cases it was obvious which was which, said Kelly.

Stephanie Coutts, who oversaw the taste test, said: "It was really important we test them blind because it stripped away preconceptions of labels, marketing and knowledge of the beers or brewers.

"The craft beers stood out pretty clearly and people who I would consider craft brewers make a much better product," she said.

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