2018 SOBA Award Winners Announced

SOBA Awards 2018

The Society of Beer Advocates Inc. is pleased to announce the results of the annual SOBA Awards. These awards are the result of the votes of individual members of SOBA, by region. The SOBA awards represent the true “voice of the consumer”, as SOBA is a consumer-based organisation with a mission to educate, promote, and advocate for the appreciation of, and access to, a diverse range of quality beer.

2018 SOBA Awards Summary

Behemoth Named Best Brewery By Beer Fans

Chur! Behemoth Brewing has achieved the almost unthinkable and dethroned Garage Project as New Zealand’s favourite brewery, according to the Society of Beer Advocates (SOBA).

Garage Project had ruled the annual awards for the four previous years – crowned New Zealand’s best brewery in 2014-15-16 and 17 – but the increasingly popular Behemoth has turned the tables on the Wellington giants after finishing runner-up last year.

Liberty Brewing’s 2018 Prohibition Porter – a 12.6 per cent Porter aged in Jack Daniels barrels – was named beer of the year, pipping last year’s winner, McLeod’s Paradise Pale Ale.

Behemoth – with their iconic Churly character, a fast-moving range of new beers and irreverent marketing, has become one of the most talked-about breweries in New Zealand.

Last year the brand got global attention thanks to the infamous Dump the Trump IPA.  The beer propelled Behemoth into national consciousness midway through the year, when the company’s Facebook page was inundated with negative reviews and comments from supporters of the US President, Donald Trump.  A campaign to hit back at the one-star reviews left by Trump supporters drew mainstream media attention and brought Behemoth to a wider audience.

Behemoth produced 40 different beers in 2018, including 34 new products – with an intense focus on hoppy (often hazy) IPAs, including the multiple gold medal-winning Lid Ripper. Their range of hoppy beers rate highly across the board –  even if everyone has a different favourite!

Liberty Brewing’s award for their Prohibition Porter is an historic result – for the first time, the champion beer as judged by SOBA members is not hop-driven. Previous winners have been Liberty’s C!tra (2013), Panhead The Vandal (2014), Panhead Supercharger (2015, 2016) and McLeod’s Paradise Pale Ale (2017).

It’s hard to argue with the taste buds of SOBA members, however, with Prohibition Porter dominating festivals and rating sites. It won the People’s Choice award at Beervana 2018, took over as New Zealand’s highest-rated beer on the social media platform Untappd and won a gold medal at the New Zealand Beer Awards.

The beer was a real labour of love says brewer Joe Wood – with a long, complicated brew day producing a beer of such high gravity (sugar levels), it was almost undrinkably sweet prior to going into the barrels, where the tannins and vanillin from the oak tempered the sweetness over a nine-month aging process.

This vintage was then packaged into black glass bottles, designed to give an extended shelf – with Wood saying it will age handsomely for a quarter-century.

SOBA members also voted on their favourite breweries, beers, bottle shops, pubs and restaurants across a number of regions.

2018 SOBA Awards Winners

Honoured Members for Services to SOBA & Craft Beer Community

  • Maree Shaw, For service to SOBA
  • Mike Stringer, For service to beer education and home brewing
  • Ed Briem, For service to beer education and home brewing
  • Karl Summerfield, For service to beer education and home brewing
  • Tom Coleman, For service to SOBA and home brewing
  • Phil Murray, For service to SOBA and home brewing

National Award Winners

Beer of the Year

Winner: Liberty – Prohibition Porter
Runner up: McLeod’s – Paradise Pale Ale

Brewery of the Year

Winner: Behemoth Brewing Co.
Runner up: Garage Project

Regional Award Winners

2018 Regional SOBA Award WinnersBrewery of the YearBar of the YearRestaurant of the YearOff-License of the YearEvent of the YearHomebrew Shop of the Year
NorthlandWinnerMcLeod'sMcLeod's Pizza BarnMcLeod's Pizza BarnLiquorland Kensington--
AucklandWinnerLiberty BrewingThe Beer Spot, NorthcoteHallertau BreweryLiquorland NewmarketGABSBrewers Coop
Runner up-Vulture's LaneSatya Chai Lounge, K RoadFine Wine Delivery Co, North ShoreAuckland Beer Week-
WaikatoWinnerBrewaucracyCraft HamiltonGothenburgHamilton Beer & Wine Co-Brewshop
Runner up-Brewaucracy Brewery & Taproom-Brewaucracy Brewery & Taproom--
Bay of PlentyWinnerFunk EstateThe Barrel Room-Liquorland Mt. Maunganui-Brewshop
Runner up-The Rising Tide----
Hawkes BayWinnerBrave Brewing CoWestshore Beach InnWestshore Beach InnWestshore Beach InnBeer Appreciation Day (B.A.D.) and Hop Con (tied)HB Malt Station
Runner upBrave Brewing Co--
TaranakiWinnerMike'sMs WhiteThe Hour GlassLiquorland FitzroyMountain Ales FestivalGrain to Glass, Waitara
Runner up-The Hour Glass----
WanganuiWinner-Rutland ArmsRutland ArmsFour Square Riverview and Liquorland Whanganui (tied)-Whanganui Homemade & Brewer's World
Runner up---Liquorland Wanganui--
ManawatuWinnerBrew UnionBrew UnionBrew UnionLiquorland Albert Street--
Runner up-----
WellingtonWinnerGarage ProjectLittle Beer QuarterShepherdRegional Wines & SpiritsWinter Ales FestivalThe Brew House
Runner up-Hashigo ZakeGrill Meats BeerThorndon New WorldBeervana-
Nelson TasmanWinnerTownshend Brewing CompanyThe Free HouseUrban Oyster Bar & EateryFresh Choice RichmondMarchfestLeague of Brewers
Runner up-The WorkshopHopgoods, NelsonFresh Choice, Nelson--
CanterburyWinnerThree BoysMoon Under WaterPomeroy'sThe Beer LibrarySouth Island Beer FestivalHomebrew HQ
Runner up-The Laboratory, Lincoln-Punky BrewsterGreat Kiwi Beer Festival-
Otago & SouthlandWinnerEmerson'sThe Portsider & Eureka & Obrellos (tied)OmbrellosHenry's Centre CityDunedin Winter Beer FestivalDunedin Malt House
Runner up--The PortsiderEmerson's--

Big thanks to all of the SOBA members who voted – we really appreciate it.

Previous SOBA Awards Results

For more information, press only:

Gareth Guitry [email protected]


  1. when is the 2019 SOBA awards? I am an advocate of NZ beers ever since and really loved your content for years now. Hopefully, we can all share our knowlege about how to classify and improve beers in the future.

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