Parrotdog brewing director Matt Warner is delighted to have finally won the Smith’s NZ IPA Challenge.

The annual Queenstown event features 36 New Zealand-hopped IPAs battling for the coveted snowboard trophy.

“We’re stocked with this one,” Warner said. “We’ve been wanting to tick this one off. It’s just one of those competitions that we hold in high regard that we hadn’t been able to win until now. We’ve had people’s choice before but it’s great to get the judges’ choice this time.”

The Smith’s NZ IPA win adds to other notable achievements at the New Zealand Beer Awards (champion medium brewery), New World Beer & Cider Awards, and Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge.

Warner says the recipe for the winning beer — which is a small-batch, keg-only release — will be scaled up and re-released, probably in August, as part of the brewery’s new limited-released programme of 440ml cans.

The beer is hopped mainly with Nelson Sauvin and Riwaka, with a little bit of Nectaron and Motueka. Warner says the key was being able to brew it with “fresh” Nelson Sauvin and Riwaka pellets.

“It’s a pretty classic New Zealand IPA — lean and dry and let the hops shine. But it all came down to the quality of the hops. Both the Nelson Sauvin and Riwaka were 2023 season hops that we’d selected. We knew when we opened the bags the beer was going to be fantastic.

“The pellets were big-time fresh — intense and expressive — almost like fresh whole cones.”

Warner said the Riwaka came from NZ Hops Ltd and Nelson Sauvin from Freestyle.

The Smith’s win caps a big month for Parrotdog, who have just released the first beers in their new limited-release range. They had previously stopped the Reincanation series in which the beers were all named for important people in the Parrotdog story.

The first releases in the new series are two double IPAs, one hazy and one bright, and with new artwork.

parrot smith's ipa win

“The Reincanation series was about the people and now we’re putting the focus back on the beers. There’s another couple in the pipeline and then we’ll release that NZ IPA.”

Warner has also been stunned by the success of their just-released stout, Black, in six-pack format, saying a second batch is underway because demand has been so high.

There are only a handful of breweries that do stout six-packs and Warner said the brewery worked hard on pitching the beer just-right — 5% ABV, flavoursome and drinkable. And he’s not afraid to say they looked at what Mac’s and Monteith’s do in this space with their approachable stouts.

parrot smith's ipa win

“We wanted it to be interesting, super-balanced, and drinkable and it’s been really well received. We did a lot of research and development on this beer, and when it came time to release, we actually blended two smaller batches so we could get it bang-on.”

Main photo: Representatives of, from left to right, Garage Project, Parrotdog, Canyon and Shining Peak, celebrate their respective wins for People’s Choice, Winner, Best Tap Badge, and Hop Grower’s Choice.