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Cheers to the winning beer

27 July 2022
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Three Boys Brewery owners Brigid Casey and Ralph Bungard.

Christchurch local Three Boys Brewery have been awarded the Champion New Zealand Exhibitor award at the 2022 New Zealand Beer Awards. The gold medal award recognises 18 years of excellence in crafting the finest quality beer. Interview Josie Steenhart

For the 16th year, the Brewers Guild Awards have awarded breweries from throughout the country for their craft, with over 800 beers entered across 119 style classes, the 29 judges did well to judge them all in just two days.

The judging process began in July this year, with an additional category in No & Reduced Alcohol Class proving popular with 29 entries in its first year.

Some of the South Island trophy winners included Queenstown’s Altitude Brewing for their Amber/Dark Ale, Dunedin’s The Emerson Brewing Company in the British Ale category, and Nelson took out the Specialty and Experimental competition with their brood fermentation process producing a feijoa and rye hit.

Style talked to Three Boys Brewery Three Boys owner and brewer Ralph Bungard to get his reaction to the news, which involved a cheers to success, and some reflection on his years of crafting quality beer.

How does it feel to win, and what do you think it was that set you apart this year?

The win is fantastic! It is genuinely exciting for us all at Three Boys – we are all buzzing! It’s also great to see how excited others are about the win, not just our customers but also our colleague from the brewing industry.

Brewing in Aotearoa has grown massively in the 18 years since Three Boys started, but despite that growth the industry has managed to stay cohesive and convivial. I think we can largely thank our industry body The Brewers Guild of NZ for that. They do a great job is keeping us together and helping us share knowledge and skills. 

You can’t leave too much to chance when brewing – generally if you do it all goes wrong! We always strive for quality, consistency, and good process. Overlying that is the need for top quality ingredients. We get amazing ingredients from our local supplier of malt at Gladfield Malt and our hop growers that are part of New Zealand Hops. I think this year the great skills of our staff and our fantastic suppliers just came together perfectly for us, and that is reflected in our beers.

What do you love about living and making beer in Christchurch?

There is a long history of great independent brewing in Christchurch, and we really love being part of that vibrant brewing scene. We don’t have a multinational-owned brewery in Christchurch. That’s unusual, and I think it makes for a more interesting brewing landscape in Otautahi. Having like-minded, businesses just around the road does make a difference. That independent brewing scene can only work though when you have open-minded, innovative hospitality and a knowledgeable customer base. We have both those things in Christchurch and we are so appreciative of that.

Which of your beers will you be drinking to celebrate?

That’s a hard question! I do love all our beers and with the help of all the Three Boys crew we do manage to have a good range of styles on the table when we stop work for a pint at the end of the week. I think that we all might deserve more than one beer tonight though. I’m going to go for our trophy-winning Three Boys Lager!

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