A taste for a good cider
A local cider expert has sniffed, swirled and sipped his way through the high-end quality of cider and beer exhibited at the New World Beer and Cider Awards.
Jody Scott, a first-time judge at the awards, on March 13 and 14, and the head cider maker at Zeffer Cider Co, Hastings said there were a record number of quality entries for the awards.
All entries vied for a spot in the awards’ Top 30, with the winning beers and ciders taking pride of place on New World shelves nationwide.
“This year was a record entry of 645 brews from 102 different brewers across NZ including some international entries as well.
“The general consensus was that standard was up on previous years. We were pretty excited about the quality.”
With a range of different beer and cider styles the judging criteria came down to one main factor, he said.
“There are lots of aspects to judging a beer or cider that include judging the appearance, aroma and taste of the drink.
“But when it comes down to it the most important thing is to consider drinkability.
“It is well and good having a tasty beer but if you couldn’t finish a pint of it then it isn’t something people really want to buy.”
The judging was broken down into multiple tables so each beer and cider could be judged fairly, he said.
“There are 24 judges at the awards along with eight trainee judges whose scores don’t count. It ensures none of the judges are judging something they produced.”
In spite of being a judge at the awards Scott couldn’t pick a favourite.
“We don’t get to know what we tasted as all the judging is ‘blind’ — you don’t know which beer or cider is in the glass — so I’ll have to wait until the results come out later in the year with everyone else.”
Scott has more than 12 years experience in the wine and cidermaking industry and a first-class honours degree in winemaking.
With experience throughout Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, he now heads Zeffer’s cidermaking team and has led them to a number of prestigious cider awards.
He has also been a beer, wine, cider and spirits judge at international and local competitions.
He offers some advice to budding cider and beer brewers.
“If they want to get into the industry they should head along to the multiple beer and cider festivals to meet the people who make the beers and ciders they like. It’s a very welcoming community and people love to share their passion and knowledge. Be realistic as it’s a tough job with some long hours, but it’s very rewarding.”
Left to right: Zeffer Cider CFO, COO Greg Small, head cider maker Jody Scott, founder/cider maker Sam Whitmore enjoy a cold bottle of cider.