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Although they’ve only existed for five years, Emporium Brewing has achieved a threepeat in the New World Beer & Cider Awards.
For the third year in a row the Kaikoura brewery has gained a place on the Awards Top 30 list, this time with their ‘Get To Da Choppa’ Belgian style wit beer.
It’s quite an accolade for a small regional producer, putting them alongside bigger and more established brewers, including Wellington’s Garage Project and Auckland’s Behemoth.
‘‘We’re really stoked; for a small brewery in Kaikoura I think we’re doing alright,’’ Emporium’s head brewer Paul Finney says. ‘‘Being able to say that we’ve been in the New World Beer & Cider Awards for three years in a row gives us a bit of kudos.’’
The 2021 New World Beer & Cider Awards were judged by an independent panel of 28 New Zealand beer industry luminaries. They assessed over 650 beverages from over 100 breweries and cidermakers over two days in March, taking in a range of beer styles - from hazies to IPA, through pale ales and stouts, lagers and ciders and beyond. The Top 30 award winners are available in New World stores nationwide throughout the month of May.
Judges were unanimous in their love for this “delicate” beer which showcases lots of sweet citrus and coriander spice.
‘Get To Da Choppa’ (an Arnold Schwarzenegger reference from the movie Predator) was developed for a beer festival at Kaikoura’s Slam Club bar.
‘‘It was a hot day, and after setting up all the taps I poured one of those and thought ‘oh man, this is tasty!’’’ Finney says. ‘‘And we’ve been brewing it ever since. It’s a wheat- based style, not to be confused with the German style, which has more banana, bubblegum character. This is more citrus based, so it’s an easy drinking beer. It’s nicely balanced and not very bitter, so quite approachable for non-craft beer drinkers.’’
The beer was also included in the New World Beer & Cider Awards Top 30 in 2019. Last year’s successful Emporium entry was ‘Drop, Cover, Hold’ - a tropical sour beer whose title was a nod to the brewery’s colourful back-story.
Finney and wife Laura launched Emporium as a small contract brewery in Christchurch. Searching for premises on which to expand, in August 2016 they purchased their current site in Kaikoura, opening in October. The following month the massive earthquake struck. Since then they’ve also had to contend with a distributor going under, and the ongoing implications of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But despite these setbacks, Emporium has maintained some growth. Their focus remains on the local market, and becoming a destination for beer aficionados. They do also offer minigolf and Escape room activities as a sideline.
‘‘With the earthquakes here and the pandemic, I think people were looking for more localised products in general,’’ Finney says. ‘‘The saying is ‘wine travels to people, people travel to beer’. And we don’t want to be massive, we want to brew good beer; hopefully most of it stays in Kaikoura, and if we can sell it around the country, hopefully people enjoy it when they get it.’’
With Emporium Brewing almost becoming veterans of the New World Beer & Cider Awards Top 30, it’s no wonder that the brewer looks forward to this time of year. But that’s because he enjoys being introduced to the exciting range of beers chosen by the judges - just as beer lovers around the country do.
‘‘You can have a little beer journey,’’ Finney says. ‘‘There are always going to be some maltier ones, some sour ones, some Belgian styles - it’s great. I’m looking forward to picking out some new favourites from the list.’’
Discover the New World Beer & Cider Awards Top 30 in store and at newworld.co.nz/Top30