Cassels Brewing logo
Cassels Brewing logo

NZ boutique brewery wins top award

This post originally appeared on, September 20 2019

A family-owned brewing company from Christchurch has beaten out international heavyweights like Guinness to win world’s best stout and porter.

Cassels Brewing Co’s milk stout took out the world’s best stout and porter accolade in the prestigious World Beer Awards in London.

It was an emotional win, owner Alasdair Cassels said. “When I was a kid, 45 years ago, I used to brew beer at home and my reference for stout was Guinness. It was the best stout in the world. Now our stout is the best in the world. It’s a dream come true.”

With a pint of the award-winning beer in hand, Cassels said: “Winning the award made me smile. Knocking Guinness made me smile.”

More than 3500 beers from more than 50 countries competed in this year’s awards. Judges blind tasted and scored the entries across three rounds. The final round was held in London, where more than 200 international brewers, industry experts and journalists tasted and judged the winners.

Cassels executive brewer Simon Bretherton woke up to multiple voicemails on Friday informing him of the win. It had yet to sink in, he said. The brewing company, based in Woolston, had been refining the milk stout since it first started brewing the beer after the earthquakes.

“It’s full, smooth, it’s got a lot of character and complexity, but it’s also very approachable,” Bretherton said. The beer was made from New Zealand hops, and lactose, a form of sugar from milk that gave it its sweetness.

NZ boutique brewer Alasdair Cassels says winning an award for the world's best stout and porter was a "dream come true"

The win was a credit to the six-strong brewing team, Bretherton said, and would help provide exposure and sales. “Before this award it was 18 per cent of our turnover. But I’m expecting it’ll probably be 30 per cent of our turnover before too long,” Cassels said.


The Cassels brewery produced between half a million and a million litres of beer a year. In the milk stout category, it was up against a brewing company from the United States that produced 500 million litres of beer, Bretherton said.

Companies like Guinness wouldn’t be aware of the Woolston brewing company, Cassels said. Now, perhaps, they might be. “It might put Woolston on the map,” he said.