A Beers Lovers Guide to New Zealand’s Best Craft Beers

New Zealand Beer Guide – In New Zealand mass produced commercial beer is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Craft beer continues to rise, with over 70 breweries creating beers using Kiwi grown hops. They have developed a worldwide reputation for their excellent aromas and flavours. Although us Aussies will never admit it, we may have a lot to learn from our mates across the ditch. Here’s your guide to New Zealand’s best craft beer. 

New Zealand Beer Guide


While travelling New Zealand in a camper van, we quickly learnt that beer is a very important part of the Kiwi culture. Whether its enjoying a stout by the fire after a cold-water surf in Raglan, sharing an IPA after a day in the mountains around Queenstown or having a lager at a barbecue with newly made friends. It comes as no surprise that a country so infatuated with this delightful beverage should be one of the world leaders when it comes to producing some of their own craft beer. New Zealand hops have a reputation for being some of the most pungent and fruity varieties that can be found. This results in some great beer with interesting flavours and a vast array of aromas. Here’s our New Zealand beer guide with our favourite producers of the drink that lubricates the country.



Garage Project is a small brewery based in Wellington, New Zealand. This is your classic tale of a zero to hero, rags to riches brewery. Garage Project was started in Wellington by best mates – Pete Gillespie and Jos Ruffell – with a passion for the liquid gold. As the name suggests it actually all began in an old petrol station. With the help of Pete’s brother, Ian, the three guys turned what they called a nano-brewery (even smaller, apparently, than a micro-brewery) into the prized company that is it today. 

They are known for including the use of volcanic rocks and submarines in their brewing apparatus. Think full flavour IPAs that knock your socks off, made from some of the most powerful hops you can find. They have complex tasting beers, a lot of time has gone into creating the perfect flavour and aroma. While researching for our New Zealand beer guide we loved the Hapi Daze (Pacific Pale Ale) and the Garagista IPA.

New Zealand beer guide

The name might give you a clue as to the engineering way in which the folk at Panhead Custom Ales go about their business. They are based in an old Dunlop tyre factory in Maidstone and have grown relentlessly in the short five years or so that they have been brewing commercially. Panhead is committed to stripping back and rebuilding varieties of beer to make them better than ever. 

Panhead’s range of stock beer is some of the best on the market if you want to play it safe. You can enjoy typical examples of a pilsner, stout or pale ale. We enjoyed the Supercharger APA, which contains a long list of aromatic hops like Centennial, Citra and Simcoe. These would lead you to expect massive bitterness and a sensory hop presence, and you wouldn’t be too far off in that expectation at all. It’s an American Pale Ale with a nose full of wheaty, resinous and herby notes from a white, persistent head. It contains pleasantly bitter flavours with a nice, long finish on the way down.


Chur Brewing Company is the alter ego of Behemoth Brewing Company from Auckland, New Zealand. They trade under a different name in Australia, KAIJU. Chur recently grabbed significant media attention for their Dump the Trump beer, which wasn’t received well by pro-Trump voters. It led to a social media post and their Facebook page being over-run with abuse. 

We liked their NZ Pale Ale the best. Apparently this is their “signi-chur” beer, this is classic NZ hops in a bottle or glass. A tropical hop fruit salad if you will. A refreshing bitterness that makes you want to come back for another sip or gulp.

New Zealand beer guide

Epic by name, epic by nature. The philosophy of the Epic brewing company is spelt out on the first page on its website. It reads, ‘Epic makes really hoppy beers for the world to enjoy.’ and it certainly does. The Epic Lager and Pale Ale are essentially the perfect middle of the road beers for those who want to ditch the mass-produced and characterless beers that so often sponsor our sporting events and line the shelves of our supermarkets. Hop Zombie and Armageddon have become cult classics due to their use of highly sought after US hops. No other NZ brewer travels to US hop harvest, and Epic is the only brewery in NZ that imports these hops direct from the growers themselves, always having a contract five years into the future.


Founded in 2008, Yeastie Boys are a Wellington-based brewing duo (without their own brewery). They have been amongst the leading innovators during the recent rise of craft brewing in New Zealand. The brainchild of Stu McKinlay and Sam Possenniskie – two of New Zealand’s most prominent beer activists – the Yeastie Boys have spent the last seven years picking up trophies, receiving critical acclaim from around the world, and proving to even the most cynical beer geek that contract brewing really can result in great beer.

Our favourite is Pot Kettle Black, which is Yeastie Boys’ multi-award winning ‘Black IPA’. The different names convey the fact that this beer is a contradiction of styles: fresh and hoppy, yet dark and rich. Most importantly, it is mind-bendingly delicious and a complete original. Another worth noting is Gunnamatta, a new world India Pale Ale with subtle grapefruit and lemon hop flavours intermingling amongst the explosive bergamot orange and leafy aromatics of the ‘Earl Grey Blue Flower’ English tea. Even the Queen of England would knock back a few of these.


Liberty Brewing began as an online brewing supplies website and created beers to showcase the flavour potential to customers. The beers were a great hit and have been in high demand ever since. These guys brew a couple of the most renowned craft beers in New Zealand. Every craft beer aficionado has tried the Yakima Monster Pale Ale, and the Citra Double IPA… At 9.0% alc/vol, let’s just say that it’s not one to be taken lightly. This one will sweep you off your feet in a haze of beautiful citrus and floral notes. It’s tasty stuff but just don’t think you’ll be driving home from the pub after enjoying a couple of these bad boys.



8 Wired Brewing is inspired by the legendary Kiwi can-do mentality, their aim is to show us all that beer is no longer “just beer”!  Expect unique brews and ingenuity in flavour. The brewery actually started as a contract brewery, whilst the now head brewer and company owner, Søren Eriksen, was working at another brewery in Nelson. He hired their equipment when it was available and for five years brewed his own stuff in his own time. In 2009, 8 Wired released their first beer, and it was only a couple of years later that they won the most acclaimed award in the NZ craft beer scene. They became the Champion Brewers at the Brewers Guild Awards. If you’re after some full-on IPAs or perhaps want to try some barrel-aged beer then these are your guys.

New Zealand beer guide

We really hope you have enjoyed reading our New Zealand beer guide as much as we enjoyed trying out these beers in New Zealand. If you would like to try some over in Australia have a look on Beer Cartel or keep an eye out at your local bottle shop.




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