Good George has won the Smith’s NZ IPA Challenge in Queenstown for the second year in a row.

Good George took the title with Haze of Glory (7 per cent ABV). Garage Project took second place with the latest installment (No 25) of their Block Party series featuring Nelson Sauvin and Motueka hops from a single farm block. Bach Brewing was third with Bad to the Cone (6.5 per cent), also a hazy.

Parrotdog took out the People’s Choice award with their LB Hazy NZ IPA, brewed with a blend of Motueka, Riwaka, Southern Cross, Nelson Sauvin and Nectaron hops.

In a blog post, Good George described the beer as follows:

“Its sweet malt flavour and light fruity esters from the yeast give a great stage for our rock star NZ hop varieties to perform on, and the mouthfeel can be described as rich, creamy, and smooth. The NZ hops that went into this brew (Nectaron, Riwaka, Nelson Sauvin and NZH-102) give it a massive hop kick, juicy mouthfeel, and a huge tropical hop aroma.”

Good George head brewer Brian Watson is a big fan of the yet-to-be-named experimental hop known as NZH-102, saying it’s “just an amazing hop”.

To create an award-winning beer requires more than putting the right hops together says Watson, who has the brew team doing a quick quality check on every batch of hops they use when dry-hopping.

“In the past six months we’ve really put the focus on quality.

“Not all hops are created equal, we have all the brewers smelling the hops every time they dry hop, rather than just dumping them in.”

This is because hops are so variable. The aroma and flavour can change depending on where they are grown, when they are picked and how they’ve been handled..

A recent hop selection with Brian Clayton from Clayton Farms exemplified that and Watson said the the “differences in hops from paddock to paddock were amazing”.

This batch is available as keg-only at this stage but a second batch will be packaged in squealers.