Features of the highly-commended list are five winners from Garage Project to them nine in total across the Top-100, and two more zero percenters to go with the two in the Top-30.
Other breweries which had a good competition with three highly commended awards include Boneface, Chinchillere, Deep Creek, Epic and Good George.
8 Wired Hell of the North
Oud Bruin is a Belgian-style brown ale also known as Flanders Brown Ale, which has undergone a long fermentation process in barrels. Expect slight sourness that complements the stewed fruit, some woody tannins in what the judges called a “deep and complex” beer.
8 Wired Wild Feijoa
This Wild Feijoa Ale has established itself as modern Kiwi classic. This annual winter release from the barrel-aging experts at 8 Wired takes around two years to mature. Boldly embracing the much-loved Feijoa flavour but with a tart and tannic twist.
Bach PLANET NECTARON Hazy NZ IPA
Nectaron hops have been all the rage since their commercial release last year and this is a nice example of the pineapple and passionfruit character they deliver. Surprising dry, almost powdery-light mouthfeel. “Punchy and juicy,” said the judges.
Bavaria 0.0% IPA
Bavaria are arguably the industry leaders when it comes to zero alcohol beers. Their 0.0 Wit made the Top-30 a couple of years ago and the judges were equally enamoured with the IPA. “Good hop character, well balanced. Overall, tastes like beer.”
Behemoth Bezos’ Bullshit Bathroom Breaks
Some typically bullish political commentary from Behemoth with this dig at the work culture created by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos. No need to rush here, take your time juicy tropical and mandarin zesty hazy with rich resinous palate. “Great beer,” said the judges.
Boneface Darkness India Stout
Amazing combo of flavours in this hoppy stout from Upper Hutt’s Boneface. Milk chocolate and fresh coffee aroma gives way to wonderful hops that start with an earthy blackberry, brambly note before opening towards orange zest and grapefruit.
Boneface Outlaw India Pale Lager
A super hopped-up lager that presents a vibrant hop nose of “purple jet plane lollies” said the judges, with a mix of “dank, pine resin, tropical and citrus notes”. But underneath the lovely hops there’s a clean and lager base that makes for great drinkability.
Boneface Voodoo Bloo Hazy India Pale Ale
The name of the beer references, and is in support of, an up-and-coming punk-alternative band. Like Voodoo Bloo’s music it’s vibrant and bold. “Lush and vibrant palate with easy-drinking low-resin content. Drinkability-plus,” said the judges.
Borage and Bee Semi-Sweet Sparkling Mead
Borage and Bee meadery is the passion project of Glenorchy entrepreneur Chanelle O’Sullivan. The judges loved the “attractive honey aroma” in this medium-bodied refresher, adding: “Has lovely waxyness, smoky propolis, spicy honey, and good complexity.”
Bulmers Original Cider
Dubbed Ireland’s favourite cider this is lightly aromatic with “apple blossom, nectarines and toasted almonds,” the judges wrote. “Sweet fruit and gentle tannins, with honey and juicy ripe apples. Delicate complexity. Enjoyable easy drinking style.”
Canyon Zenkuro Dry, Japanese Rice Lager
A collaboration between this Queenstown brewery and local sake maker Zenkuro. Uses sake kasu, juice squeezed from the lees after fermentation, yuzu zest and Japanese Sorachi Ace hops. “Well executed idea. Good integration of all flavours. Tasty beer.”
Capital Cider Co. Tokyo Rose
Produced in Nelson, the name is taken from the Japanese Akane, or Tokyo Rose, apple. “Candy-like aroma, sherbet baked apple pie. Crisp clean, easy drinking. Pleasant mouthfeel, good backbone. Nice expression of modern-dry cider.”
Carlsberg is 175 years old and just four years they rebranded their flagship beer with a clever play on their previous “probably the best beer in the world” marketing campaign, changing it because it was “probably not”. Judges loved a “great beer, that drinks very well”.
Cassels Double Cream Milk Stout
Cassels original Milk Stout has a cult status in New Zealand brewing and the double version, as you might expect, is doubly delicious. The judges were seduced by this “big and decadent” beer. “Creamy, silky smooth. Incredible chocolate flavour.”
The beer brewed to celebrate the opening of the Little Creatures bar in an old hangar at Hobsonville, with the name celebrating the old flying boats that used to take-off from there. “Good hop bitterness, Great Lager feel and nice bready malt character.”
Cherry Red by Petrus
This is blend of aged pale ale and a barrel-aged brown beer aged in oak barrels with morello cherries. Think sour cherry chocolate. Judges loved the “marzipan cherry aroma and chocolate flavours.S slightly acetic but it worked nicely. Well integrated and complex.”
Chinchiller Hop Life CHCH01
Chinchiller are nano-brewery tied to Christchurch’s “brew it yourself” Brew Academy. Their Hop Life series explores different hop combinations in a hazy IPA. In this case it’s Nectaron and Motueka deliver a classic tropical juice body with a citrus-squeeze finish.
Chinchiller Hop Life CHCH02
The second in the Hop Life series from features Nelson Sauvin and Pacifica hops. This delivers some dank, piney notes that play nicely with rich stonefruit. “Tasty and drinkable.”
Chinchiller Touch My Wenis NZ Pilsner
Thankfully the label on this explains the name, which harks back to the darkest days of Covid when we all touched elbows instead of shaking hands! Lovely pilsner this one, with bright citrus and mellow melon flavours. “Highly drinkable, crispy,” said the judges.
Deep Creek Berrylicious
Deep Creek were the first in New Zealand to pick up on a trend of adding fruit to beer after fermentation. Three of their four creations made the Top-100. “Great fresh berry character, great beer, would recommend and drink again, very good,” wrote the judges.
Deep Creek Hey Pina
Another fruit addition after fermentation beer which tells you Deep Creek are on to something. “Hits all the flavours and has good drinkability,” said the judges
Deep Creek PavLover
And the third from Deep Creek … Lots of kiwifruit and strawberry here. “Great aroma and balance, creamy fruity, very well made. Very drinkable.”
Double Vision Mouth Party
This hazy pale ale from Miramar’s Double Vision is beautifully balanced, with a nice mix of tropical fruit flavours, strong body and a hint of bitterness. The judges stamped it “highly drinkable” and we give it bonus points for the out-there label artwork.
Duncan’s Juniper IPA
Duncan’s from Paraparaumu are great experimentalists, and this is one for gin lovers; a punchy IPA is made with juniper berries that add a tannic, slightly tart layer that complements the hop bitterness. Intense drink experience and judges loved the juniper “expression”.
Duncan’s Yum Yum Yuzu
A classic citrus lager with a double down on the fruit with addition of yuzu. The resulting beer is as bright as a summer morning. “Exceptionally drinkable,” said the judges. “Refreshing, crisp, clean. Well done to the brewer.”
Epic Armageddon IPA
One of the all-time great IPAs in New Zealand history and a multi-award winner that continue to set a high bar. Great appearance “tobacco sunset,” said one judge! Superbly well-integrated malt and hop character, a seam of minerality and a late bitter kick.
Typically Epic, this lager falls on the side of hoppy but remains firmly in the lager-style with a crisp, clean, dry character complemented by a light citrus hoppiness and a dry-cracker malt. “Refreshing and summery”.
A reincarnation of a decade old brew that Epic did with Dogfish Head brewery in the US. Smoked tamarillos are used to create a high ABV porter that’s smooth and complex. Judges loved the “chocolate and cigar-box” aroma, describing simply as a “bloody nice beer”.
Garage Project DFA
A long-time classic from Garage Project rebranded a few years ago to “Demus Favorem Amori” or “we choose to stand for love”. And it’s easy to love this beer: an IPA designed around a Vietnamese salad and brewed with mango, mint, lime and chilli. Lush.
Garage Project Fresh IPA Vol. 12
“Fresh” is a regular-release series from Garage Project (and different to the monthly fresh series). These have a “certified fresh” label on the top of the can to tell you’ve they’ve been stored cold. This is super-smooth with tropical intensity and a pleasing juicy character.
Garage Project Ghost Light
Originally brewed to support to the theatre industry during the first year of Covid-19. Stays around because it’s so, so good. Manages to be hoppy-dank and fruity-fresh at the same time. “Drinkability is high with great juiciness and minimal bitterness,” said the judges.
Garage Project Petite Mort
If you want to know what it means when beer critics describe something as “funky” or “horse blanket” or “barnyard” from Brettanomyces yeast this is your beer. Huge lemon meets funk that persists into the incredible flavour. And all on a 4.5 per cent ABV.
Garage Project Pickle Beer
Yeah, that Garage Project team are at it again with the weird and wonderful. If you like dill pickles, you must drink this. It has a huge nose of pickle juice that carries through to the flavour. “Carbonated salad dressing,” said one witty judge.
Good George Cold IPA
Cold IPA? It’s IPA with a lager-style weight by virtue of using rice or corn to lighten the body. This is an excellent example. Huge dank hops and some tropical fruit and citrus notes underneath and finishes crisply clean. “Technically excellent, very well-made beer.”
Good George Deckchair Hazy IPA
If you want to be ahead of the hop game, try this lighter style hazy IPA. It’s brewed using a still-experimental hop with the code-name NZH-102. Distinctive tropical and citrus intensity, said the judges, who enjoyed the good body and mouthfeel for a 5.2 per cent beer.
Good George Hazy Pale Ale
Hop forward with licks of grapefruit from the get-go in the style of a classic IPA before settling back to reveal a sweeter, easy-drinking orange and mango juice bomb. “Intensely juicy, rock-solid beer,” said the judges.
Isthmus Typhoon 2
Isthmus is the side hustle for Deep Creek head brewer Hamish Ward and his wife Caroline Muller-Ward. Typhoon is a full-on 8 per cent double hazy IPA where incredibly you don’t notice any alcohol, it’s so smooth and mango-apricot fruity. Dangerously drinkable.
Laughing Bones Stoned Amber Ale
Laughing Bones, based in Silverdale, north Auckland, like to play on the edges of the mainstream styles and this apricot-infused amber ale offers a pleasant twist. Subtle fruit, toffee malt and a little tingle of tartness. Judges called it a “lovely, interesting beer”.
Liberty Halo Pilsner
A benchmark for the New Zealand-style pilsner with moderately intense citrus-meets-tropical hop character with a full malty mouthfeel and balanced bitterness that leaves an impression of lingering sweetness. The judges loved its “deft balance”.
Manaia Chalky’s Hill Black IPA
Manaia are a husband-and-wife team in the Auckland suburb of Beachlands. This is a top-drawer Black IPA, with a smooth chocolatey roast malt character tied to a just right level of grapefruit and pine resin hop character “Fantastic example of a hoppy dark beer.”
Mata Golden Kiwi Cider
A name for those who remember the pre-Lotto Golden Kiwi tickets? Well, you’ve got a winner here. The judges loved the complex aroma, and flinty character. The kiwifruit and apple “blend well and produce a complex cider with rich full mouthfeel”.
McLeod’s Longboarder Lager
Undoubtably one of the best lagers in New Zealand from the team at McLeod’s in Waipu. The judges were rapt with the stylistic excellence of this hoppy, dry, refreshing lager. “Great example of the style, good hop flavour,” they said.
Morningcider Peace O’ Pie Cider
With their Strawberry Rose cider in the Top-30, Morningcider are having a vintage year. This is a spiced blueberry pie of a cider. Cinnamon spice dominates the aroma but it gives way to some lovely berry and apple notes. The judges praised the long-lasting flavour.
Mount Brewing Gelato Pastry Sour Green
The rise and rise of pastry sours continues and no wonder. This gloriously bright beer has feijoa and pear layered throughout, lactose balances the acidity and create a creamy mouthfeel. “Very good and interesting beer, unique flavours. Recommended,” the judges said
Mount Brewing Co Tart Rhubarb Cider
Mount Brewing Co had a great competition with three entries in the top-100 including this delicately arranged cider which offers rhubarb and apple pie on nose. The judges loved its “big intensity and long length” and praised the balance between tart and sweet.
Old Mout Boysencider
Boysenberries and apples are an autumnal match made in heaven. This has delicious boysenberry aromas on the nose and drinks rich, lush and sweet with a well-timed acid balance coming in late to keep you interested. “Highly drinkable,” sung the judges.
Old Mout Feijoa
This nails the vibrant feijoa character without losing the connection to the underlying apple cider. The feijoa flavours are lifted and perfume, not too sticky or ripe, observed the judges, who were quick to order another: “Very highly drinkable.”
Paynter’s The Pilgrim 2021
Creamy, buttery apple and spice aromas. Honey and caramelised apples on the lush mid-palate with brisk finish thanks to gripping tannic dryness. Judges loved the big apple flavours and subtle aromatics of this classic traditional cider “Full bodied, complex flavour.”
Rhyme X Reason Joy Rider
Wanaka’s Rhyme X Reason made their Top-30 debut this year and backed it up with a blinder of a pale ale. Solid fruity hops are superbly integrated with the malt to deliver a seamlessly experience. “Excellent, everything I want in a pale ale,” said the judges.
Brewed for the Auckland viaduct rooftop bar Dr Rudi’s. And it’s a perfect drop for a sunny evening overlooking the water. “Looks beautiful,” said the judges. “Amazing fluffy white head. Inviting and vibrant on the nose; classic citrus tropical NZ hops.”
Sawmill Baltic Porter
As the name suggests Baltic Porter evolved in Baltic region where local brewers replicated the strong dark beers that used to be imported from Britain before Napoleon put in a blockade. Roasty, toasty, chocolate warmth. Creamy gives way to crisp clean finish.
Sawmill The Doctor
This beer is legendary in New Zealand and is the most dangerously drinkable 6.5 per cent dream you can hope to taste. “Faultless,” said the judges, praising mellow milk chocolate, coffee and dried berry flavours. There’s a hint of bitterness and touch of char for a dry finish.
Shining Peak Taranaki Amber
What happens when a craft brewer takes on a classic mainstream style? They elevate it, of course. Made for Taranaki rugby supporters it’s strong on caramel and malt flavour, with low bitterness. Perfect for easy drinking in front of the footy.
Southpaw Sign Stealer Raspberry & Boysenberry Sour
Southpaw from Christchurch complemented their Top-30 IPA with a fantastic raspberry and boysenberry sour. Looks fabulous. “Strong berry intensity gives way to very drinkable dry tart beer with subtle saltiness. Great drinkability without fault,” said the judges.
Speights Apple Cider
New Zealand’s oldest brewery proves it can adapt to modern tastes with the dry, refreshing cider. Judges praised the complexity of this one, noting “bright, floral, ripe rich apples flavour” that was balanced mid-palate with some grippy tannins.
Speights Mid Ale
Backing up from winning a trophy at the Brewers Guild Awards, this is arguably the best-made 2.5 per cent beer in New Zealand. “Sweet, malty, biscuity, does everything it should. Great example of a 2.5 per cent beer,” the judges said, adding: “Yum, balanced flavour.”
Speights Summit Ultra With Lime
This low carb beer from Speight’s delivers to the letter, said the judges. It’s limey, balanced, dry and post-exercise quaffable. “The overall effect is exactly as expected. Great balance — sweet, nice malt character but shy of being cloying. Some nice lime character.”
Sprig + Fern The G.O.A.T Doppelbock
Lovely play on words with the name with “greatest of all time” acronym plus a reference to an actual “bock” the German word for goat. And all spot-on as this is arguably the best doppelbock made in NZ. Rich. malty and toasty with hints of dried fruit. Sweet and luscious
Steinlager Tokyo Dry
The judges raved: “Looks beautiful! Great clarity, delicate gold hue, fluffy white head. Light and delicate — nice pear and aniseed esters provide interest. Light honey and crackery malt character. Dry with a balanced finish. Delicate and restrained. Excellent beer!”
Sunshine Mexican Lager
Mexican Lager is defined by the use of maize in the grain bill to create a lighter style body. This version brings in some great hop character for modernity without adding bitterness. “Enjoyable, punchy, citrusy, contemporary lager,” the judges said.
The Cider Factorie Classic Apple Cider
Based in Tauranga, the Cider Factorie is a popular spot to visit in the Bay. And this apple cider is indeed a “classic” the judges said. There are hints of pears and apple blossom on the nose followed by a full rich body and ending with a crisp acidity.
The Island Dawn Daze Hazy IPA
The Island is a brewpub in Papamoa with a growing reputation for good vibes and good beer. The judges loved this “beautiful” looking beer and its silky-smooth body loaded with juicy grapefruit and mandarin. Superbly drinkable with a well-hidden a 7 per cent ABV.
The Theoretical Brewer Coffee Porter Marin
This is a collaboration with local New Plymouth coffee roaster IncaFe and Marin refers to their organic single-origin coffee sourced from Peru. Very smooth and sweet beer said the judges with a strong coffee undertone.
The Theoretical Brewer Hibiscus Sour
The Theoretical Brewer had a great competition with three diverse beers in the Top-100. This is a brilliant rose colour, with an aroma of berries and grapes laid over a biscuity base with a good dry acidity. The judges concluded: “Very good, would happily recommend”.
Three Sisters Back in Bubbles
The rare appearance of a Belgian-style Tripel in the Top-100 comes from Three Sisters brewpub in New Plymouth. It’s a big beer 8.2 per cent but creamy and smooth with traditional flavours of clove, bubble-gum and banana on a warm malt body.
Three Sisters Kaitake HB’s Hazy
Great story behind this one. The brewery sponsors Kaitake FC football team and promised to brew a beer if the second team won their division. They did and so we have this reward beer: a sessionable (5 per cent) hazy with lovely, sweet orange-passionfruit flavours.
Tuatara have been brewing this Hefeweizen for more than a decade and its one of their longest standing beers. Remains a great example of the hefeweizen style with ripe banana, lemon sherbet, clove and a hint of vanilla.
Volstead Hazy Sir Sauvin
A companion beer in Volstead’s single hop series to the Riwaka Hazy that’s in the Top-30. This is similarly excellent, with peaches, apricots and some grapefruit juice creating a lush juiciness with a dry finish.
Produced by Wanaka’s original brewery Wanaka Beerworks, this delivers baked apple, cinnamon, and a side of marmalade on the palate with some nuttiness in there well. The judges were impressed with a “very interesting cider”.
Zeffer 0% Crisp Apple Cider
An absolute belter of a zero per cent cider, with real cider character to the fore. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear it’s the real thing. Judges praised the lively apple flavour and crisp acidity of this easy drinker.