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September 22, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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The Best Beers in the Land

It is a simple fact that the winners of proper competitions are decided by proper judges. Text voting from the masses probably makes “New Zealand’s Got Talent”, Telecom and Vodafone truck loads of money each week but the results are hardly based on merit. By reducing the judging to a phone-in popularity contest, an expert’s considered verdict is worth exactly the same as “Sonny” from Victoria who texts in “OMG tht dancin dog tht thru up on stage wuz the coolest! LULZ 2008!!! Vote Labour!”

That may be acceptable for alleged talent shows but it is hardly sufficient for something truly important like beer. Thankfully, it was a panel of international and local beer experts who decided the results of the 2008 Brew NZ Beer Awards which were announced at the Embassy Theatre recently. Here is a list of the ‘Best in Class’ winners in each category and my personal comments:

Classic New Zealand Styled Beers: Invercargill Biman – this tasty beer always does incredibly well at beer tastings.

Amber and Dark lagers: Dux de Lux Hereford Bitter – a Germanstyle dark lager with a British name which is now available in bottles.

International Golden Lager: James Squire Pilsener – hard to find in New Zealand, this was also a surprise winner at the World Beer Cup in San Diego.

French and Belgian style ales: Tuatara Ardennes – big, strong and beautiful Belgian-style golden ale.

New world/American style ales: Epic Pale Ale – the impish brewer strikes again with (yet another) gold medal.

Stouts and Porters: Harrington’s Clydesdale Stout – I haven’t tried it… yet.

Strong ales and lagers: Monteith’s Winter Ale Doppelbock – interesting beer but hardly a true Doppelbock.

Wheat and other grain beers: Emerson’s Weizenbock – startlingly distinctive strong wheat beer.

Fruit, spiced, herb flavoured beers: Invercargill Boysenbeery – this is apparently excellent (for a fruit beer, not that I’m biased.)

Packaging award: Monteith’s New Zealand Lager – it certainly is a pretty bottle.

Experimental beers: Enrico’s Cure from the Green Man Brewery – while it is unclear what ailed Enrico, a beer of this strength would probably fix the problem.

The big prize of the night was the crowning of New Zealand’s inaugural Champion Brewery. In a hugely popular decision, Wellington’s own Tuatara Brewery took away the biggest prize of them all.

In somewhat of an upset, Flame Beer shockingly missed out on even a bronze medal for the eleventh year in a row.

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