I was lucky enough to join the judging panel for the 2019 edition of The Malthouse WCIPA challenge so I know first-hand how revered a win is at one of New Zealand’s most prestigious beer events.  Epic and Parrotdog have dominated top spot for many years so I was excited to see a new name being etched into the Golden Gumboots for 2021. Based in Petone, Baylands Brewery took top honours this year with their smashing entry The Hops Awaken.  Like many, Aiden Styles started his fledgling brewery in a garage under the house and flourished from there.  Wellington craft beer ambassador Sunil Balu joined the team a few years ago and this relationship has seen the brewery go from strength to strength. The Hops Awaken is everything you’d ask for in a West Coast IPA.  The competition guide is narrow and specific: brew the best West Coast IPA possible, stay true to style and make the hops shine! Baylands loaded this beer with US hops plus the addition of the New Zealand experimental hop NZH102.  Upon opening, the room soon with all those lovely citrus, pine needle, grassy aromas that you expect.  The flavours follow along beautifully. The beer is super-dank with a lovely resinous oil that adds both complexity and a velvet smoothness.  Tons of bitterness that lingers on your tongue long after your last mouthful. At 6 per cent, The Hops Awaken isn’t the biggest West Coast IPA I have ever sampled, however every piece of this beer has been pulled together perfectly.  There’s a strong malt backbone that holds the beer up throughout the drinking experience which has aided the Baylands team to find that magic sweet spot, some might say the perfect balance?! I’m so pleased to see a new brewery break through this year.  Competitions like these drive our brewers to be better which ensures the bar is pushed higher and the beer gets even better! Surprisingly this beer is still available online at Baylands store so support independent beer and grab yourself a slab today: https://baylands.beer/collections/cans/products/the-hops-awaken-440ml

Supreme Champion named at New World Awards

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New non-alcohol craft brand launched

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