Nelson brewer named champion

CHAMPION: Martin Townshend began Townshend Brewery eight years ago.
CHAMPION: Martin Townshend began Townshend Brewery eight years ago.

Nelson brewer Martin Townshend was close to tears when told his one-man operation had been named New Zealand’s champion brewery.

But there was no chance of him weeping into one of his award-winning Townshend Brewery beers, as he was in a Wellington dress shop when the phone call came.

His wife Keri was looking at dresses on Cuba St when told Townshend had won – hours before the 2014 Brewers’ Guild of New Zealand Beer Awards last night confirmed his good news.

Townshend told the Nelson Mail Keri had saved him from weeping in public – she did the crying and gave him a big hug.

His one-man Townshend Brewery has been going for eight years, after starting in a shed on the outskirts of Nelson.

Last year it was second in the awards. After going one better, Townshend said he was blown away to win and felt honoured.  ‘‘It’s just fantastic.’’ 

He beat a record 670 beers from 84 breweries across 15 different categories, with 74 New Zealand breweries entered.

It was the ‘‘icing on the cake’’ in what’s been an excellent couple of years for the brewery, he said. 

‘‘Being named New Zealand’s champion brewery is a massive accolade.  It seems like only yesterday that I created my first brew in the shed.

‘‘Like most things in life, the secret to success is passion, hard work and dedication to the task.  

‘‘I still enjoy brewing now as much as I ever have and I think most brewers will tell you the same. That said, it’s huge to be recognised and this award is the best possible recognition a brewer could get.’’ Founded in 2005, Townshend Brewery is still a one-person operation, producing about 50,000 litres per year.  And it is still located at the family home in Rosedale.

Townshend was also awarded the champion New Zealand manufacturer trophy and won the New Zealand specific style category for his Oldham’s Tap Riwaka Pilsner.

Twelve of his other brews earned medals.  The Boston Beer Company claimed the champion international brewery award while the Morton Coutts Trophy for innovation or achievement went to Steve Nally from Invercargill Brewery.

Nally came up with the idea of packaging low carbonated draught beer in 20-litre bags to be used in bars with traditional English style hand-pumps.

Neil Miller of Wellington was writer of the year.

All beer entries were rated against a style guide for each category for its aroma, colour, bitterness, flavour and presentation by a panel of 25 judges.  A total of 61 gold, 121 silver and 169 bronze medals were awarded.

Upper Hutt’s Panhead brewery won two categories, as did Emerson’s Brewery  from Dunedin. 

Category winners were: European lager styles: Emerson’s Brewery (Dunedin), Gladiator Bock

International lager styles: DB Draught Brewery (Timaru), Monteith’s Black British

Ale styles: Wigram Brewing Company (Christchurch), Tornado Strong Ale 

Other European ale styles: Emerson’s Brewery (Dunedin), JP 2014 

US Ale styles: Parrotdog (Wellington), BloodyDingo 

International ale styles: Panhead Custom Ales (Upper Hutt), Boss Hog

Stout and Porter styles: Three Boys Brewery (Christchurch), Three Boys Oyster Stout

Wheat and other grain styles: Renaissance Brewing Ltd (Marlborough), Black the RIPA

Flavoured and aged styles (including fruit/spice/herb/honey/smoke): Wigram Brewing Company (Christchurch), Captain Cook Spruce Beer 

New Zealand specific styles: Townshend Brewery (Nelson), Oldham’s Tap Riwaka Pilsner

Specialty, experimental, aged, barrel, wood-aged styles: Panhead Custom Ales (Upper Hutt), Black Sabbath

Cider and perry styles, Zeffer Cider Co (Auckland), Slack ma Girdle Cider

Cask conditioned: Moa Brewery (Marlborough), Moa Five Hop Handpull

Packaging: Tuatara Brewing  (Kapiti), Delicious Neck

Festive Brew: Behemoth Brewing Company (Auckland), Brave Bikkie Brown Ale