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NZ Beer Awards Sustainability Award Winner

23 October 2019

Sawmill Brewery has won the inaugural Brewing Sustainability Award at the 2019 New Zealand Beer Awards run by the Brewers Guild of New Zealand. Sponsored by New World, the new award honours beer-related businesses – from grain-growers to bottle-makers and in all between – who are implementing projects, policies and initiatives that have a positive impact on the environment.

The small but well-known Matakana brewery, which has been owned by Mike Sutherland and Kirsty McKay since 2010, was a clear winner, showing a strong commitment to the environment, as well as staff and the local community, over many years.

The judges found numerous examples of Sawmill’s dedication to reducing their environmental impact and making the most of their resources. They have been using solar energy for 11 years, use no plastic packaging and have a zero waste goal. They were the first craft brewery to put their beer in a can, they also capture their rain water, all compostable waste is composted onsite, and liquid waste is minimised through on-site reprocessing. Even their malt is repurposed to feed animals. 

Sawmill building from the outside

Most recently, Sawmill became the first New Zealand brewer to earn B Corp certification – an international certification only given to businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance. 

“Having a B Corp certification means Sawmill has been recognised internationally for using business as a force for good,” explains Sabrina Kunz, Executive Director of Brewers Guild, who ran the competition. 

“Sawmill ensures their beer quality, people engagement and sustainable goals are of the highest standard. They are focused on the long-term goal, which we are committed to as an industry. It’s a big conversation – we want to keep talking about it.”

The award is timely and welcome recognition for the Sawmill team at a time when it is being so sorely tested – coming just weeks after the brewery suffered a large fire.

Because of this, the Sawmill team were unable to attend the awards dinner in Wellington in October, so New World Warkworth store manager Jeremy Ross delivered the good news to them on site at the damaged brewery. “We are really grateful to the Brewers Guild and to New World for this award; it means so much to us,” said Kirsty in an acceptance video played at the awards. “Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the past couple of weeks too – we really appreciate it.”

Thanks to the backing and generosity from other Brewers Guild members, Sawmill beer is currently being produced at a number of different breweries around the country ensuring their award-winning beer remains on New World shelves. “We have an incredible community of brewers, customers and beer lovers here in New Zealand. It has been absolutely humbling to see the assistance we have been offered,” says Mike. “The best help we can ask for is that our customers continue to order and drink Sawmill beer as usual.”

Sabrina Kunz says it’s testament to Sawmill’s standing in the community that other members are helping Mike and Kirsty continue their beer production after the fire. “Craft beer is a very competitive industry in New Zealand – we have among the highest rates of craft beer producers per capita in the world – so it’s about more than just producing good beer.”

Runners up The Fermentist Brewery in Christchurch also showed excellent recognition of environmental impacts and a commitment to targeting carbon neutrality by 2020.

Click the button below for a full list of New Zealand Beer Awards winners, many of which are stocked in New World stores. New World are proud to support award winning breweries and cidermakers.

NZ Beer Awards winners