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

Two shots and a pint: How the NZ beer industry joined the Covid health response

There are many ways to encourage Kiwis to embrace science and get vaccinated — but perhaps none quite as delicious and refreshing as these. Vera Alves reports In the “before times”, a beer label wasn’t a place where you’d expect to find a public health statement. But...

Volstead Lupulin Block West Coast IPA

A new release from Christchurch’s IPA specialists, the Volstead Trading Company this 6.5 per cent IPA is fueled by American Sultana and Chinook hops. The aroma brings bright grapefruit citrus, zesty orange peel and spice over an expressive malt richness.  The palate...

Searchlight’s Skater Grrrl label takes top prize

A pair of skateboarders trumped magical animals and Satan to give Queenstown’s Searchlight Brewing top prize in the annual GABS Label Design Awards. The winning entry was designed by Mikaela Merrilees, of Meraki Design Studio.

Deep Creek make splash with fruited sours

Deep Creek are the first New Zealand brewery to launch a range of beers with fruit added post-fermentation, a practice which has resulted in exploding cans in other parts of the world.

Garage Project 10 Triple Hazy IPA

A big birthday requires a big beer and in this case Garage Project have delivered a monster! Fresh off their win at the 2021 NZ Beer Guild Awards, New Zealand’s Champion Large Brewery of the year has produced a triple hazy IPA celebrating 10 years in the brew...

Capital Diary – October: The Level 2 Effect

Alert level 2 dinking in Welly this October meant event cancellations continued, while table service created a more European approach to beer drinking. Getting a pint on a Friday night became more of a challenge, with booking tables a new trick to learn. There was,...