Double celebration for Dunedin's Emerson's Brewery at beer awards

Source: 1News

It's considered the BAFTA's for craft brewers, and the biggest night on the brewing calendar.

The Brewers Guild of New Zealand Beer Awards saw beer makers from across the country come together Thursday night for the annual event.

This year, they were held where it all started - Dunedin's Emerson's Brewery- 16 years after it began.

"We founded the Brewers Guild right here in Dunedin and we've been waiting for an opportunity for the awards to be here," says founder Richard Emerson.

"I've always wanted to put Dunedin on the beer map."

Not only is it the first time Emerson has had the honour of hosting the awards, it also coincides with the brewery's 30th birthday.

"This is a significant year for us cause we've been 30 years in the business and it's great to combine that with the Brewers Guild awards here, it feels right to be able to celebrate our business and the beer awards," Emerson says.

Established in 1992, Emerson's is one of the oldest craft breweries in the country.

Richard is credited for his early work, and is now regarded as the godfather of New Zealand craft beer.

"Wherever you go he's a celebrity in the brewing industry and outside the brewing industry as well, he's done an amazing job for the craft world in general," says Greg Menzies, Richard's right-hand man at Emerson's.

"There's a lot of brewers around the country that actually kind of credit him to them getting into craft beer."

Emerson has seen a lot of changes over his years in the industry, from the rise in popularity of the hazy pale ale, to the type of consumer getting amongst the hype.

"Women are one of the surprises, women are really enjoying craft beers now and it's fantastic watching the smile on their face once they find the kind of beer they like," he says.

New category

But the biggest trend at the moment is non-alcoholic beer.

For the first time, there's a no and reduced alcohol category at the awards.

29 beers were entered in the category this year, with Behemoth Brewing Company's Low Hanging Fruit- Blood Orange and Passionfruit Edition taking the top prize.

Some companies are even selling more alcohol- free beer than anything else in their range.

"Its weird that a brewery and their biggest seller is now a non-alcoholic beer and it's just the sign of the times that people want to go for that and its great, I think its brilliant," says Menzies.

Emerson puts it down to strong public feedback for an alcohol-free option.

"When the public want a low-alcohol beer we have a challenge to try produce a product."

Emerson's Brewery won the Gold British Ale Trophy with Emerson's Old 95.

A full list of winners can be found here