Family comes first for brewing champion

HONOURED: Martin Townshend said he was blown away by the big win.
HONOURED: Martin Townshend said he was blown away by the big win.

Nelson brewer Martin Townshend, whose brewery has been named New Zealand's best, should have been at the awards function in Wellington last night to celebrate.

Instead, he went to his karate class and his wife took their son to his concert in Motueka.

Townshend put family first despite being in Wellington yesterday afternoon when he learnt of the huge win at the Brewers' Guild of New Zealand Beer Awards.

He was so overwhelmed he nearly burst into tears when told his brewery has been named New Zealand's Champion Brewery.

He was in a Cuba St shop in Wellington where his wife, Keri, was looking at dresses when he got the call. She burst into tears and gave him a big hug.

His one-man Townshend Brewery has been going for eight years, and last year came second in the Brewers' Guild of New Zealand Beer awards.

Townshend said he was blown away to win and felt honoured. "It's just fantastic. I'm completely and utterly stoked."

He flew back to Nelson yesterday afternoon, then after karate class went home to chill out, letting the enormity of the win sink in. He plans a celebration this week, probably with an Old House ESB.

His 650-litre brewery at their Rosedale home was judged the best out of 74 New Zealand breweries that entered the awards.

Townshend said he made 25 different beers a year and had entered a broad range from oak aged to pilsener and received awards for three-quarters of them.

"It shows we have consistency and are up there with the quality," he said. "We still have some work to do but it's good to get feedback and to improve."

He loved being part of the craft beer movement which now had 10 per cent of beer sales. Four big players controlled the industry but he believed their sales would drop as customers increasingly sought quality craft beers.

"I think in five to 10 years we are going to see things happen." He was also awarded the champion New Zealand manufacturer trophy and won the New Zealand specific style category for his Oldham's Tap Riwaka Pilsner.

The Boston Beer Company won the champion international brewery award while the Morton Coutts Trophy for innovation or achievement went to Steve Nally from Invercargill Brewery.

The Nelson Mail