Interesting Facts About New Zealand Beer Brewing Scene

Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in New Zealand, accounting for 63% of all alcohol sales. Although two breweries make 90% of the beer in the region, that hasn’t stopped small New Zealand craft beer businesses from popping up across the city, like Wellington-based Garage Project, which was last year named the country’s fastest-growing business.

In fact, According to ANZ’s Craft Beer industry insight report, there has been a boom in the brewing industry over the past eight years. There were 39 New Zealand breweries in 2008; this year there are 168. Check out some more New Zealand craft beer facts below.

Forecast - Cloudy with a chance of beer. New Zealand craft beer.
Forecast – Cloudy with a chance of beer. Flickr: Dick Knight / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Facts About New Zealand Craft Beer

New Zealand brewing favourites Yeastie Boys, made a beer called The Golden Perch after the inn the Hobbits in Lord of the Rings drink at. Founder Stu McKinlay took inspiration for the 4.4% ABV Golden Ale from the US, Germany and Britain to “showcase the diversity of the film industry”.

Popular hop varieties Motueka and Nelson Sauvin hops are grown in New Zealand and used in most styles of pale ales. Nelson Sauvin is a particular favourite in British beer styles despite its distinct New World aroma, while Motueka gives off a more citrus-style taste. Pale ale is the most popular style by far in the country and accounts for two-thirds of all New Zealand craft beer sales.

Hops. New Zealand craft beer.
Hops. Flickr: Paul Miller / CC BY 2.0

Hops grown in New Zealand and Australia are known as Oceania hops. Most of these are grown in Nelson, a coastal town at the top of the South Island of New Zealand. It is thought that hops began growing there not long after settlers from England and Germany brought their own hops over to the country in 1840. Nowadays, 95% of hops grown in New Zealand are meant for forward-selling for the use of mainly Northern Hemisphere breweries.

NZ Brewery 8Wired’s iStout is ranked among the best beers in the world and has an almost perfect score on RateBeer, a website that lets users all over the world rank the beers they have tried.

Emerson are a popular New Zealand craft beer brewery brewing in Dunedin, however, unlike other beers from the region, Emerson’s beers are not pasteurised. This means that the yeast is left alive in the beer to mature and enhance the flavour of the beer. Emerson’s ales are produced from malted barley, hops, yeast and water.

Beer sampler. New Zealand craft beer
Beer sampler. Flickr: Quinn Dombrowski / CC BY-SA 2.0

Interested in sampling New Zealand craft beer for yourself? The scene is growing in smaller cities like Queenstown, and more established places like Wellington, which is already home to Yeastie Boys.

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