Sometimes it seems as if there’s a different beer award each month – locals only, most popular, bestest beer in this particular store, etc etc etc.

The most credible are open to everyone, use blind-tasting against international criteria, and use a broad panel of experienced beer judges and brewers.

Around this part of the world, the Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA) is recognised as being well-run and highly-credible. It attracted a massive 2594 entries this year, from 402 brewers and 26 countries, which also makes it the largest annual beer competition on the planet.

New Zealand brewers are keen supporters of AIBA, because it helps them to rate their craft across breweries and beer markets around the world, as well as scoring bragging rights over each other.

And we’ve often done very well there too, taking out an almost-permanent ownership of one award in particular. Last year our own Kereru won Champion Small International Brewery. This highly-valued award has also been claimed by Deep Creek (2017), ParrotDog (2015), and Renaissance (2014 and 2013).

This year Northland’s McLeod’s Brewery was announced as the Champion Small International Brewery.

Even better, Deep Creek was announced as the Champion Medium International Brewery, building on its own Small Champ success in 2017 and showing growth doesn’t have to hurt quality.

And to collect the set, DB Breweries brought back the Champion Large International brewery, an award previously won by Deschutes and Weihenstephan, and a first for any New Zealand brewery.

To put this clean sweep into perspective, let’s hear from an Aussie. This is Nick Oscilowski’s commentary from

“New Zealand is a country that draws a good deal of quiet pride and, dare it be said, validation by punching above its rather modest size on the international stage. So there’ll have been more than a few understated nods to a job well done after the country’s breweries claimed the Champion International Brewery trophies in all three size categories on offer.

“It’s easy to imagine the largest smiles being worn in Waipu, the tiny Northland town that’s the home of McLeod’s Brewery and now AIBA Champion Small International Brewery. The win – off the back of the Best Amber/Dark Ale trophy for their Traders beer (their interpretation of a Scotch Ale) and celebrated by a commando roll onto the stage and the most dramatic bowing of the night – sets another high mark for a brewery with a reputation that’s been growing steadily in recent years with head brewer Jason Bathgate at the helm.

“It also continues a Bledisloe-like period of dominance that’s seen the award go west in six of the past seven years and potentially even signals a stepping stone to greater things; Auckland’s Deep Creek Brewing was the small brewery trophy recipient in 2017 but this year went one better – or at the very least bigger – by filling its swag bag with the Champion Medium Brewery trophy, Best International Lager trophy (for the Undercurrent Pilsner) and an enhanced reputation to take back over the Tasman.”

So you can see why we at the Malthouse are drawing a good deal of quiet pride and, dare it be said, validation by bringing Champion Trophy Winners Deep Creek and McLeod’s to celebrate in Wellington on Friday 14 June. Come along and join Deep Creek’s Scott Taylor, and McLeod’s Anita Mitchell (aka McLeod’s Daughter) to try some award winning beers from our local Champs.

The full beer list is to be confirmed, but it’s looking like a total tap takeover. Look out for these highlights:


Traders Scotch Ale (AIBA Trophy)

Longboarder Lager

Double Paradise IIPA

Marzen Amber Lager

802 #18

Abbey Light Belgian Single

Great Migration IPA

Pioneer Brown Porter

McLeod’s Smugglers Bay Range – Limited Release Vintages. Don’t muck around!

Bonnie Brett Ale 2018

Belgian Dubbel

Belgian Tripel

Barley Wine

Red Saison

And from Deep Creek

Undercurrent Pilsner (AIBA Trophy)

Wai-Kiki Sour

Lava Lava Sour

Courage IIPA

Misty Miagi Hazy IPA

Brewtiful Haze

Aloha Sour

Redwood APA

Oakily Doakily Sour

Wisdom IPA

Nikaw Lager

Phew! Pace yourselves…


Martin Craig

Malthouse Events

Friday 14 June – Return of the Champions. AIBA Champion breweries McLeod’s and Deep Creek bring their winning ways to the Malthouse.

Saturday 22 June – Darkest Days, our annual celebration of the darkest beers on the longest night

Thursday 4 July – North End tap takeover

Friday 26 July – 12th Annual West Coast IPA Challenge. Yass!