8 Wired Brewery of Blenheim picked up the coveted award at the 2011 Brewer’s Guild of New Zealand Awards last Thursday in what could fairly be described as a popular decision with crowd. [1]

The champion is selected based on the best three medals won by each brewery, with a particular weighting for gold medals.  It was a relatively tight contest with 8 Wired heading off challenges from former champions Emerson’s and Tuatara, as well as competition from Three Boys and Lion Nathan

Brewer Soren Eriksen [2] made his first 8 Wired beer in October 2009, contract brewing it at the Renaissance Brewing Company where his day job is Assistant Brewer.  This arrangement continued and 8 Wired is now the first contract brewery to win the Champion award.  He regularly acknowledges the support of Andy and Brian at Renaissance in what has been his stellar rise to brewing fame since arriving in New Zealand from his native Denmark. 

The win was all the more impressive because he was up against a record field of 465 entries (up over hundred on 2009).  In all, 8 Wired picked up eight medals, two trophies and the big gong.  Malthouse is currently serving virtually the entire range of 8 Wired products.  Their full results were:

8 Wired: Champion Brewery of New Zealand

8 Wired Barrel Aged Big Smoke: Best in Class – Specialty, Experimental, Aged, Barrel & Wood-Aged, Reduced Alcohol/Carbohydrate and Gluten-Free Styles [3]
8 Wired Big Smoke: Best In Class: Flavoured & Aged Styles (including Fruit/Spice/Herb/Honey/Smoke)

8 Wired The Big Smoke: Gold Medal
8 Wired Barrel Aged Big Smoke: Gold Medal
8 Wired Batch 18 Barrel Aged Imperial Stout: Gold Medal

8 Wired Tall Poppy: Silver Medal
8 Wired Saison Sauvin: Silver Medal
8 Wired HopWired: Silver Medal

8 Wired iStout: Bronze Medal
8 Wired Festivus 2011: Bronze Medal

At the Awards, Soren’s speech was short and exceptionally humble.  It was the same story in the official press release today with the brewer saying “We have been embraced by the consumers and beer community for a while now, and to get the same recognition from this year’s high calibre of judges is a great honour…  I’m obviously more than a little humbled, but also proud that our passion and attention to crafting our beers has been rewarded…  Our first beer, ReWired, was brewed in October 2009.  So it’s been less than two years to climb to the top of the country’s brewing scene.”

The press release also picked up on Soren’s dual champion status – Champion Brewery of New Zealand and Champion Poker Player of New Zealand.  He was asked at one of the festival brew seminars which was the greater honour and he gave a pretty cogent (and humble) answer at the time.  The official response is now “both are a mix of skill and luck but there is no doubt that luck is more important in poker than brewing.  So, as an achievement, winning Champion Brewery is the pinnacle for me so far.” 

Soren once innocently asked me why he never got invited to my poker games and now you know the answer.  He is a two-time national champion (out of two attempts).  I made a vow that if I ever wanted to give Soren my hard-earned money I would simply go out and buy one (possibly more) of his beers.

It is no secret that I have long adored 8 Wired Hopwired.  Since it appeared on the scene in a miasma of volatile hop oils, it has been a fixture on my annual top ten beers list.  The flavours of the Barrel Aged Big Smoke are also deliciously complex and it is excellent for a little winter night contemplation. 

However, the big find for me this year was the latest batch of 8 Wired Tall Poppy, their balanced yet boisterous India Red Ale. [4] It was the star of an extensive tasting session I did with chefs Martin Bosley and Shaun Clousten to select the beers for our food matching sessions at Beervana.  Both would have happily used Tall Poppy but it was Martin who ended up pairing it with a succulent roast rib of beef [5] and the single greatest blue cheese sauce I have ever tasted.

So, here’s to 8 Wired – the 2011 Champion Brewery of New Zealand.  Well done sir.

[1] Certainly compared to last year.
[2] Sorry dude, our blog cannot do that cool little ‘o with a slash through it’ Danish letter.
[3] I suspect this may be the first time Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Pure Blonde and Yeastie Boys PKB all medalled in the same category.
[4] It is not really a ‘find’ but it had been a while since I had tasted it and I was blown away.
[5] Technically one we had prepared earlier…


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine


2011 Brewer’s Guild of New Zealand Awards – http://brewersguild.org.nz/news/2011/2011-new-zealand-champion-brewery-announced
8Wired Brewing – www.8wired.co.nz (which already includes the Champion Brewery logo, photos, a press release and a blog post!)
Malthouse on Twitter – http://twitter.com/malthouse
Malthouse Facebook Group – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wellington/Malthouse/7084276173
Real Beer – http://www.realbeer.co.nz 
Beer and Brewer Magazine – http://www.beerandbrewer.com/