In the couple of weeks we spent in New Zealand we managed to visit most corners of the North Island and one thing stood out to me with regards to the beer down there. Good beer is everywhere! Surprisingly every bar and restaurant we visited had its taps dominated by New Zealand brews and not big multi-national brands (although Guinness was widely available in many bars as well).
The taps are still dominated by the fizzy yellow stuff but, Steinlager aside, they are more reminiscent of modern American craft lagers and European pilsners than the tasteless piss that we suffer with in our pubs here. Speights Gold Medal Ale, Mac’s Gold and Hop Rocker, Monteiths and Tui IPA were all widely available, excellent beers. Fizzy but with lots of flavour.
Out of those, Mac’s Hop Rocker was my outright favourite. It helps that they have the cunningly good idea of ring pulls on their bottles. Having said that on the one occasion the ring pull failed it was a total pain in the arse to get the bottle open. My cries of anguish could be heard all over the holiday complex when it snapped “Nooooooo! I want my beeeeeeeer!”.
Craft beer seems to be represented well down there as well (like the Harrington’s Rogue Hop pictured) with the big off licences like Liquor Land carrying a selection and plenty of bars advertising themselves as craft beer specialists. We even found a Belgian beer bar in Wellington, though it was eye wateringly expensive for a bottle.
New Zealand is famous for its wine (more of which in a separate blogpost) but there’s a lot of great beer on the go down there too. Hopefully some of it can find its way up here along with the Australian brands we see regularly.