Fritz and Maria's Beer Column
So . . . do you want the good news first, or the bad? OK, start with the bad: the Beervana judges didn't rate our Media Brew. A bit surprising, since we still love Pure Trouble White IPA (a wheat beer packed with lots of citrus peel, coriander and as Martin Townshend says, “enough hops to survive a trip to India”).
But the good news is that the punters liked it (it was the fastest selling of Martin's lovely real ales at the event) and more importantly, Martin loves it to. That means you'll get a chance to decide who's right when bottles under the Townshend's Brewer's Reserve line reach a store near you very soon. (And no, we aren't being paid to promote it; we just think it's awesome.)
And the good news just keeps coming for Nelson. Our local brewers, competing with more than 450 international entries in the Sutton Group Brewer's Guild of New Zealand Awards, scooped up two trophies and heaps of medals.
We couldn't have cheered louder as Martin Townshend collected the Cask Conditioned Ales Trophy for HM's Black Strap Porter, and when Jim Matranga, of Golden Bear, picked up his trophy for Pirate Peach Saison in the Other European Ales class.
We also made plenty of noise for Sprig & Fern, who once again brought home a basket of bling, with gold medals for Harvest Pilsner and Best Bitter, plus a share of silver and bronze.
McCashin's also got big cheers with a silver and a bronze for Stoke Bombers, while we were thrilled to see Dale's bag a bronze in their first year. In addition, Redwood Cider Company made a strong showing in the Cider class, bringing in three medals. Luckily, we weren't hoarse yet when they announced the Morton Coutts Trophy for innovation. We got to hear a very nice tribute to Jim Pollitt, the original head brewer for Mac's, and were sitting close enough to watch his wife, Sheila, beaming as the room erupted in cheers. She was quite amused to tell her kids they'd gone to Wellington from Nelson for a dinner, before realising just how seriously the beer community takes this award.
We can also take great pleasure in the successes of our near neighbours, Moa, 8 Wired, Renaissance and West Coast, who brought home a collection of trophies and medals as well, since we count all the brewers as friends.
Heck, Harrington's also have pretty strong ties to the Nelson beer scene, so it was even nice to see the Christchurch brewery win the Brewer of the Year.
At this point, maybe we should just admit that we get pretty excited by all the awards for brewers around the country, who are putting themselves out there to make great products.
These competitions aren't easy, and individual results can sometimes feel a bit random, but when we step back and look at the overall result, we just have to appreciate that New Zealand is making beer to celebrate.
Check out the Brewer's Guild of New Zealand website, brewersguild.co.nz
Bookstores are now stocking Beer Nation: The Art and Heart of Kiwi Beer by Michael Donaldson, a lovely new book about the New Zealand beer scene that the whole community is embracing.