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Craft Beers in NZ

The first step to producing craft beer is to know the type of beer it is. Craft beers in NZ are produced using traditional methods and high-quality ingredients. They are often produced in small batches by independent brewers. In recent years, craft beer has experienced a surge in popularity around the world, including in New Zealand.

Craft Beers

The history of craft beer in New Zealand dates back to the 1980s when the country’s brewing industry was dominated by a handful of large breweries producing mass-market beers. However, a growing number of Kiwis became interested in brewing their beer at home, and some independent breweries began to emerge.

In this article, we will explore the world of craft beer in New Zealand, taking a closer look at the history, growth, and current state of the industry. We will also delve into the unique flavours and styles of New Zealand craft beer and highlight some of the best breweries and beers that the country has to offer.

Brewing Process

Craft beer brewing is an intricate process that requires precision, knowledge, and creativity. While each craft brewer has their unique recipe, there are some general steps and ingredients that most brewers use to make their beer. 

Here is an overview of the brewing process used in craft beer production:



If you are interested in producing craft beers in NZ, you must have a full list of ingredients. It is also important to know the usefulness of these ingredients. We have detailed this information below for you.
Water: The main ingredient used in brewing craft beer.
Malted barley: This is the grain that provides the sugars needed for fermentation.
Hops: These are flowers that add bitterness and aroma to the beer.
Yeast: This is the microorganism responsible for fermenting beer and producing alcohol.



Now that we have covered the necessary ingredients for the production of craft beers in NZ, we must discuss the brewing process of these unique beverages.
Milling: The malted barley is crushed into smaller pieces to allow for better water penetration.
Mashing: The crushed malt is mixed with hot water to create a sugary liquid called wort.
Boiling: The wort is boiled for around an hour with hops added at various times to add flavour and bitterness.
Fermentation: The cooled wort is transferred to a fermenter, and yeast is added. The yeast consumes the sugars and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Conditioning: After fermentation, the beer is conditioned or aged for a few weeks or months to allow flavours to meld and develop.
Carbonation: Before bottling or canning, carbon dioxide is added to the beer to give it a fizz.

Craft brewers may vary the brewing process depending on the type of beer they are making. For example, some types of beer may require additional ingredients such as fruit or spices or a longer ageing process. Each brewer puts their unique spin on the process to create distinct and flavourful beers.

Craft Beer and Sustainability

Craft Beer and Sustainability

Craft beer and sustainability have become increasingly intertwined in recent years. Many craft breweries now use local and organic ingredients in their brews, reducing their carbon footprint and supporting local farmers. Additionally, there is a growing focus on sustainable practices throughout the brewing process, from sourcing ingredients to packaging and distribution.

One of the major benefits of using local and organic ingredients is the reduced environmental impact of transportation and pesticide use. By using local ingredients, breweries also support their local economy and reduce their carbon footprint. Organic ingredients are free from harmful chemicals and pesticides, which can be harmful to the environment and human health.

In addition to ingredient sourcing, there are many sustainable practices that breweries can adopt in their operations. These include using renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind power, to power their facilities and implementing water conservation measures to reduce water usage during brewing. Some breweries have even started using recycled materials for packaging and encouraging customers to recycle their bottles and cans.

The craft beer industry as a whole is also taking steps towards sustainability. Many breweries are becoming certified as “green” breweries, which means they have implemented sustainable practices in all aspects of their business. This includes reducing waste and emissions, using renewable energy sources, and implementing environmentally friendly packaging and transportation practices.

Popular Types of Craft Beer in New Zealand

There are quite a number of craft beers in NZ to try out in New Zealand. Craft breweries often experiment with new styles and flavours, so there is always something new to try. The top options for you to explore are:

  • Pale Ale: A hop-forward beer known for its bitter, citrusy taste. It is one of the most popular types of craft beer in New Zealand and is often brewed with locally grown hops.
  • Pilsner: A light, crisp beer that originated in Germany. New Zealand breweries have put their spin on the style, often incorporating local hops and malts.
  • IPA is a strong, hoppy beer popular among craft beer enthusiasts. It can range from bitter and piney to fruity and tropical, depending on the hops used in the brewing process.
  • Stout: A dark, roast beer that often has notes of chocolate and coffee. It is typically brewed with a variety of malts, including roasted barley.
  • Sour beer: A tart, acidic beer that is gaining popularity in New Zealand. It can be brewed using various methods, including adding fruit or bacteria to the brewing process.
  • Wheat beer: A light, refreshing beer often brewed with wheat and barley. It has a cloudy appearance and can have notes of citrus and spice.
  • Barrel-aged beer: Beer that is aged in barrels, often previously used for whiskey or wine. This can add complex flavours to the beer, such as vanilla or oak.
  • Fruit beer: Beer brewed with fruit, such as raspberries, strawberries, or peaches. It can range from sweet to tart and is typically a popular choice in the summer months.
Types of Craft Beer

Top Craft Beer Breweries in New Zealand

New Zealand has a vibrant craft beer scene, with many breweries producing a diverse range of unique and flavourful beers. 

Here are some of the top craft beer breweries in New Zealand.

  • Garage Project: Located in Wellington, Garage Project is one of New Zealand’s most popular craft breweries. They are known for their innovative and experimental approach to brewing, with a constantly changing lineup of limited-release beers.
  • Tuatara: Based in the Kapiti Coast region, Tuatara is one of the largest craft breweries in New Zealand. They produce a wide range of high-quality beers, from traditional styles to more experimental brews.
  • Panhead: Hailing from Upper Hutt, Panhead is a rapidly growing craft brewery known for its bold and flavourful beers. They are particularly well-known for their range of hoppy, West Coast-style IPAs.
  • Epic Brewing Company: Established in 2006, Epic Brewing Company is a pioneer of the New Zealand craft beer scene. They are known for their range of bold and complex beers, including their popular range of hop-forward IPAs.
  • Yeastie Boys: With a name inspired by the Beastie Boys, Yeastie Boys is a Wellington-based brewery known for their bold and innovative beers. They are particularly well-known for their range of hoppy and flavourful pale ales.
  • Liberty Brewing Company: Based in Auckland, Liberty Brewing Company is known for their range of bold and flavourful beers. They are particularly well-regarded for their range of hoppy IPAs and rich, complex stouts.

These are just a few of the many excellent craft beer breweries in New Zealand. Whether you’re a fan of hoppy IPAs, rich stouts, or experimental brews, there’s sure to be a New Zealand craft brewery that has the perfect beer for you.

Craft Beer Festivals

Craft Beer Festivals in New Zealand

Craft beer festivals have become increasingly popular in New Zealand over the years, with many events being held throughout the country. These festivals offer a chance for beer enthusiasts to sample a wide range of local and international craft beers, as well as to socialize with like-minded individuals. 

Some popular craft beer festivals in New Zealand include:

  • Beervana: Held annually in Wellington, Beervana is one of the country’s largest and most popular craft beer festivals. The event showcases over 200 different craft beers from New Zealand and around the world, as well as food and entertainment.
  • GABS Beer, Cider & Food Fest: This festival, held in Auckland and Wellington, features over 100 unique craft beers, ciders, and food pairings. GABS is known for its quirky and creative beer offerings, which often include unusual ingredients and flavour combinations.
  • Christchurch Craft Beer & Food Festival: This festival, held in Christchurch, brings together some of the country’s top craft breweries and food vendors. Attendees can sample craft beers and indulge in tasty food while enjoying live music and entertainment.
  • Dunedin Craft Beer & Food Festival: This festival, held in Dunedin, celebrates the city’s vibrant craft beer scene. The event features a range of local and national craft breweries, food vendors and live entertainment.
  • Great Kiwi Beer Festival: Held annually in Hamilton, the Great Kiwi Beer Festival is a family-friendly event that showcases a range of craft beers, ciders, and food offerings. The festival also features live music, entertainment, and children’s activities.
Craft Beer Tourism

Craft Beer Tourism in New Zealand

Craft beer tourism has become increasingly popular in New Zealand due to the growing interest in craft beer. Craft beer tourism in New Zealand offers visitors a chance to experience the country’s unique brewing culture and taste some of the best craft beers in the world.

Here are some ways visitors can experience the country’s craft beer scene. Brew Bus Tours: This company offers guided tours to some of New Zealand’s top craft breweries, including Urbanaut Brewery, Hallertau Brewery, and Sawmill Brewery. Visitors can learn about the brewing process, sample various beers, and enjoy a fun day out with friends.

Self-guided brewery tours: For those who prefer to explore at their own pace, there are plenty of options for self-guided tours. The Brewers Guild of New Zealand provides a map of craft breweries across the country, allowing visitors to plan their itinerary and visit as many breweries as they like. Accommodations for craft beer enthusiasts: Some hotels and accommodations in New Zealand cater to craft beer enthusiasts. For example, the Brewski Boutique Beer Hotel in Mount Maunganui offers a unique experience for guests, with craft beer-themed rooms and an on-site bar serving a variety of local and international craft beers.

Impact of Craft Beer on New Zealand’s Economy

Craft beer has had a significant impact on New Zealand’s economy, creating employment opportunities and benefiting the tourism and hospitality industries. The following are some ways in which the craft beer industry has contributed to the country’s economy:

  • Employment opportunities: The craft beer industry has created jobs in brewing, packaging, marketing, and hospitality. The growth of the industry has led to the creation of many small businesses, which provide employment opportunities for local communities.
  • Tourism and hospitality industry benefits: Craft beer has become a significant attraction for tourists visiting New Zealand. Many visitors are interested in trying local beers and visiting breweries, which has led to the growth of the tourism and hospitality industries. Breweries also serve as venues for events and functions, such as weddings and corporate events, providing additional revenue streams for the hospitality industry.
  • Export opportunities: New Zealand’s craft beer industry has grown rapidly in recent years, with many breweries exporting their products to overseas markets. The industry has benefited from the country’s reputation for producing high-quality food and beverages, and the demand for craft beer in overseas markets has created export opportunities for New Zealand breweries.

Challenges in the Craft Beer Industry in New Zealand

No matter a scheme or industry’s success, it must have challenges and opportunities. If you are thinking of venturing into the production of craft beers in NZ, here are some challenges to consider.

Craft Beer Industry

Competition from established breweries

The craft beer industry in New Zealand is thriving, with over 200 independent breweries producing a wide variety of high-quality beers. These breweries range from small operations producing just a few barrels a month to larger breweries that distribute their beers throughout the country. 

Although the popularity of craft beers in NZ is steadily increasing, established breweries dominate a significant portion of the market. This would make it difficult for smaller craft breweries to gain a foothold and compete on price and distribution.

Craft Beer Industry

Government regulations and taxes

The craft beer industry is subject to a range of regulations and taxes that can impact the cost of production and distribution. This includes excise taxes on alcohol and regulations around labelling, licensing, and health and safety.

Challenges Facing the Production of Craft Beers in NZ

Despite these challenges, there are many opportunities for innovation and growth in the craft beer industry in New Zealand.

  • Potential for innovation and growth in the industry: The unique geography and climate in New Zealand provide an ideal environment for growing high-quality hops, The country’s reputation for innovation and creativity has helped to establish a vibrant craft beer culture.
  • Increasing demand for locally sourced and sustainable products: As consumers become more interested in supporting local businesses and reducing their environmental impact, there is a growing demand for locally sourced and sustainably produced craft beer. This trend presents an opportunity for craft breweries that are able to emphasize their commitment to sustainability and ethical production practices.
  • The growing interest in beer tourism: New Zealand’s craft beer industry has become an increasingly popular destination for beer tourism, with many visitors eager to explore the country’s breweries and taste the latest craft beers. This trend presents an opportunity for breweries to attract new customers and promote their brands and for the wider hospitality and tourism industry to benefit from increased visitor numbers.


Frequently Asked Questions

The major difference between the production of craft beers in NZ and regular beers is the quantity. Regular beer is produced in mass quantities by large breweries, while craft beer is mostly made in smaller batches with high-quality and locally-sourced ingredients. This allows for experimentation with more flavours and brewing techniques, giving room for unique tastes.

Popular types of craft beer include IPAs, pale ales, pilsners, stouts, and sour beers. Unique ingredients such as manuka honey, kawakawa, and horopito are used in the production of craft beers in NZ.

The production of craft beers in NZ has improved the economy of the country. The industry plays a huge role in creating employment opportunities in the brewing, hospitality, and tourism industries. It has also boosted the export industry in New Zealand.