(This is the fifth of several posts detailing what I found to be the breweries of the year for 2011 in various regions. Note that there is no science to the choices I have made, just my own highly subjective reasoning as detailed in each post. You can find my pick of the Brewery of the Year for Ontario here, Brewery of the Year for Canada here, U.S. Brewery of the Year here and Latin American Brewery of the Year here.)
I’ll be the first to admit that my exposure to breweries in Asia, Australia and New Zealand is limited, and something I intend to remedy this and next year. But since I did make the acquaintance of a previously unheard of (to me) number of such operations in 2011, I thought I should in fairness include Australasia in my Brewery of the Year picks, even if the selection process is a little more unfair than it is for the rest of my year-end awards.
So my Brewery of the Year for Australasia is Renaissance Brewing.
Renaissance came to my attention early in 2010 and continued to impress through 2011. Their Stonecutter Scotch Ale has been a treat from the get-go, and their Elemental Porter is reminiscent of one of the finest porters I’ve ever tasted, that of London’s Meantime Brewing. In 2011, reports out of New Zealand and Australia indicate that the brewery has continued its winning ways with American-inspired ales and what I understand is a re-imagining of their Craftsman Oatmeal Chocolate Stout. They may not be as RateBeer and BeerAdvocate lauded as other New Zealand breweries, but they are richly deserving of much praise.
In a broader sense, I see this as an award for New Zealand craft brewing in general, about which I expect the world will be hearing much, much more in the very near future.