Going for Gold: recognising best brews

Chair of Judges for the New World Beer & Cider Awards Michael Donaldson. Supplied photos.

The brewing industry is pulling together – from a distance – to help make sure a record number of entries can be judged and recognised in one of New Zealand’s most-followed beer and cider competitions.

For the first time in the New World Beer & Cider Awards’ eight-year history, judging will take place across three regional events in Auckland, Wellington and Nelson – instead of a single, larger tasting.

The change was designed to ensure the competition could go ahead as safely and effectively as possible during the country’s evolving Omicron response and the Awards could continue championing the best brews with New World customers nationwide.

Chair of Judges for the New World Beer & Cider Awards Michael Donaldson says individuals and teams from across the industry have helped make the shift in format possible, and breweries have come to the party with a record number of entries too.

“The judging panels have their work cut out for them with more entries than ever this year – just shy of 700 beers, ciders, seltzers, alcoholic ginger beers and kombuchas from 100 New Zealand breweries and distributors.”

This will see the back of house and stewarding teams – this year assisted by local hospitality teams and the Brewers Guild of New Zealand – pour and serve more than 2,300 samples for the independent judging panels across each region.  

Donaldson will head the three teams of more than 30 expert judges via video link on the day, with tastings running simultaneously at each location.

The panels will taste each entry, debating in-depth and rating each one on technical excellence, balance, mouthfeel and most importantly, drinkability.

Critically, only the beer or cider in the glass will be judged – brands are kept confidential and a stringent stewarding process ensures no judge tastes a product they may have been involved with making.

“The scale and intensity of this judging is significant, and it is no small feat to have it all underway across three locations. The willingness of everyone involved is a real testament to the important role the Awards have in celebrating the industry and the opportunity a win represents for brewers.”

The top-ranking entries will make up the New World Beer & Cider Awards Top 30 – a hotly anticipated ‘must try’ list of brews that will earn a place in New World beer chillers nationwide.

A further 70 Highly Commended brews will round out the Top 100 list available online, and a final taste off with senior judges will crown the overall Supreme Winner.




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