8 Wired Brewing scored an unprecedented double at the NZ Beer Awards in Christchurch on Saturday night, winning Champion Brewery and Champion Beer.
It’s the second champion brewery titled for the Warkworth-based brewery founded by Soren Eriksen after they took the major prize in 2011 when based in Blenheim.
And their iconic Wild Feijoa Ale (2022 vintage) was crowned the best beer in the land after winning the trophy in the fruit & flavoured category. The 2022 vintage is also the 10th anniversary of the creation of a beer that has become one of the most highly regarded in New Zealand.
The Champion Brewery title is decided by awarding points for medals and dividing by the number of entries and 8 Wired entered just five beers for two golds (Wild Feijoa, Oude Imperial), two silver (Baltic Smoke, iStout) and a bronze (Brave Old World — Scotch Ale).
Founder and head brewer of 8 Wired Brewing, Søren Eriksen, paised his team for the win, especially for the hand-chopping of the feijoas that went into his champion beer.
“To be recognised as the overall champion is a testament to the passion, dedication, and innovation that our team puts into each and every brew. It’s truly a team effort, with everyone playing a vital role; from the suppliers of the freshest ingredients, to those chopping up the fruit, carefully tending to the barrels during the aging process, and making everything happen.”
A tone of organic feijoas, supplied locally by Quinta Feijoas, are cut in half and popped into the tanks with a beer that’s been barrel-aged for a year. The feijoas sit in the tanks for another year. It’s a true labour of love.
The other big winners included Garage Project, who won the Champion Large Brewery title for the third year in a row — another feat never achieved before at these awards.
Behemoth doubled down on their Champion Medium Brewery title, backing up from last year and had more cause for celebration when Ballast Point won the Champion International Brewery award — with Ballast Point brewed under licence in Aotearoa by Behemoth.
The Auckland brewery was also the only brewery to win two style trophies — in the hazy/juicy category and the New Zealand-styles. Sawmill Brewing also picked up two trophies — their XPA winning the International Pale Ale category while they also took out the Sustainability Award.
The Champion Small Brewery title stayed in Taranaki but moved from Three Sisters to Shining Peak, which had a dominant night, with a swag of gold medals.
And Workshop, based in Raglan, won the Champion Microbrewery award, with Napier-based contract facility bStudio winning Champion Manufacturer crown.
Rhyme & Reason in Wanaka had double cause for celebration. The brewery won the Tourism Award and then co-founder Simon Ross won the Morton Coutts Award for Innovation for his canning machine manufacture business, MicroBrewTec.
Sawmill showed that when it comes to the environment and doing the right thing, they are the industry leaders, once again winning the Sustainability Award, while Waitoa took out the packaging award.
David Nicholls of DNA Brewing, and formerly head brewer at Moa, was made an honorary member of the Brewers Guild of NZ.
There were 82 gold medals awarded from 825 entries and a quarter of the golds went to three breweries: Garage Project (10), Behemoth (6) and Shining Peak (5).
Other high performers, with a trio of golds each included Emerson’s, Deep Creek, Good George, Liberty and Fortune Favours.
Double golds went to Eddyline, Beer Baroness, McLeod’s, Panhead, Sawmill, 8 Wired, Three Sisters, Workshop, Double Vision, North End, Rhyme X Reason and Three Boys.
Other notable results included Garage Project’s Chance, Luck & Magic (2020) winning the European Ale trophy for the third year in a row, with more recent vintages (2021, 2022) taking silvers.
Burkes Brewing Unforgiven Porter continued a remarkable run of success over the past three years, winning a trophy in Stout & Porter to go with a champion beer crown in 2021 and a New World Beer & Cider Awards Top-30 this year.
Champion Award Winners
Champion Micro Brewery — Workshop Brewing, Raglan
Champion Small Brewery — Shining Peak Brewing, New Plymouth
Champion Medium Brewery — Behemoth Brewing Company, Auckland
Champion Large Brewery — Garage Project, Wellington
Overall Champion New Zealand Brewing Company — 8 Wired Brewing, Warkworth
Champion New Zealand Manufacturer — bStudio, Napier
Champion New Zealand Beer — 8 Wired Brewing, Warkworth – Wild Feijoa 2022
International Lager — McLeod’s Longboarder Lager
New Zealand Styles — Behemoth Clayton F#$%ing Hops NZIPA
Amber/Dark Lager — Sprig + Fern Lock Bock & Barrel
British Ale — Emerson’s Old 95
European Ale — Garage Project Chance, Luck & Magic 2020
Amber/Dark Ale — Parrotdog Red IPA
International Pale Ale — Sawmill XPA
No & Reduced Alcohol — Beer Baroness Little Mighty
India Pale Ale — Brave Brewing Terrible Lizards
Juicy/Hazy — Behemoth Music City Hazy IPA
Stout & Porter — Burkes Brewing Unforgiven Porter
Wheat & Other Grain — Good George Hefe Mulligan
Fruit & Flavoured — 8 Wired Wild Feijoa 2022
Specialty & Experimental — Deep Creek Solera
Wood & Barrel Aged — Wilderness Brewing Russet
Industry Award Winners
Brewing Sustainability Award — Sawmill Brewery
Beer Tourism Award — Rhyme & Reason
Packaging Award — Waitoa Beer
Morton Coutts Award for Innovation — Simon Ross, MicroBrewTec