A ‘refreshingly simple’ lager from a little craft brewery in Riwaka has taken on the major players in the beer industry and come out on top at the 2018 New World Beer & Cider Awards.
The Hop Federation’s lager was named Overall Champion Lager and was the only lager to be awarded a Gold Medal.
The awards are a huge achievement for Hop Federation owners Nicki and Simon Nicholas, with the win guaranteeing Hop Federation shelf space at every New World store across the country.
“This win lifts our brand and our profile tremendously” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for us and we’ll take advantage of that.
We have great support locally and it will be awesome to increase that around the country.”
Up to 600 beers and ciders were entered into the awards by over 90 breweries from around New Zealand and the world. There were more than 50 entries and the lager category included beers from Steinlager which were all judged by a panel of 16 world renowned experts.
Nicholas is extremely proud of her husband and head brewer Simon, who had entered their lager into previous brewing awards.
“He has really listened to the feedback from judges,” she said.
“He’s asked questions, studied their tasting notes and tweaked things until he came up with the perfect brew, creating a lager that is just amazing.”
Winning the awards with a packaged product makes it even more special.
“When beer goes through the bottling process it’s even harder to get right as air can get in or it could be stored incorrectly,” she said.
“The fact the lager was stable, tasted amazing and won the Champion Lager is huge for us, we are chuffed because it’s so difficult to get it right.”
The lager is also a nod to the region the couple have grown to love after moving here five years ago from Auckland, being made with local Motueka and Nelson Sauvin hops.
Hop Federation has eight core beers in their range and will be adding a ninth with the release of a stout in July.
“The craft beer scene just keeps growing, and there’s demand for a new beer every month,” Nicholas says.
“Simon is always busy creating limited release seasonal beers.”
With steady growth in national sales and exports, the pair are proud of what they have managed to achieve in a few shorts years.
“We love this business and we are really proud that we’ve been able to grow it to a point where we can employ three local guys fulltime who are also very passionate about brewing.
“We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”