Beer – Bored of awards

Envelope please … and the award goes to … and the winner is … and this year’s champion is …

Who doesn’t love awards, medals and trophies?  Answer: me. Don’t get me wrong here, I love to see quality rewarded and effort acknowledged, especially in the drinks industry. My question is this: How many bloomin’ awards does one industry need?

We currently have the New Zealand Brewers Guild Awards as the pinnacle for the local beer industry, and now we have a supermarket chain presenting annual beer and cider awards … they also do wine awards. There are also the international competitions, which many New Zealand breweries enter and do well in. There’s the Australian International Beer Awards, the World Beer Cup and the International Brewing and Cider Awards, to name a few. The point here is that it is now harder to find a beer that doesn’t have an award than it is to find ones that do. Awards and medals have become adornments on bottles simply aimed at getting your attention: Buy me … buy me … no, buy me!

I get it, I really do. It’s just about business and as humans we are not intelligent enough to make decisions for ourselves, so the industry does it for us. Well, next time you go to the supermarket or liquor retailer, try and select something that does not have big shiny medal on it. You may be pleasantly surprised.

If you are in a bar and spy an offering on tap that you have never seen, ask for a taste. Good beer bars will have no problem doing this.

Many brew bars will offer a “flight” or selection of their brews and that way you get to try. I was going to say you get to test drive them. That would have been inappropriate but, hey, you get my drift. Be adventurous.

The latest New World Beer and Cider Awards have just wrapped up and, yep, many bottles and cans will have shiny new jewellery as a result. These awards give the winners the guaranteed opportunity to have their beers sold in over 135 supermarkets nationally, so for a little farmhouse brewery from Kerikeri in Northland called Kainui, whose Gold medal-winning Rank and File Porter will be sold all over Aotearoa now, medals mean everything and their business gets a boost. Local breweries 8 Wired and Sawmill continued local success with Class Champion trophies for 8 Wired’s Cucumber Hippy and Sawmill’s eXtra Pale Ale. Bling, bling, bling. I’m off to find a naked label. Cheers.

Ian Marriott, Tahi Bar