We asked our various contributors to list their top beers of the year. By the time we’d finished, with a little gap-filling from the editor, we had 100 different beers that summed up 2022.
Tim Newman — Chief reviewer
Epic Rooster Cold IPA — TOP PICK
I had been waiting to see what Epic would do with the new Cold IPA style, and I could not have been more pleased with the result. Superbly clean and smashingly bitter IPA of the highest calibre.
Boneface Lithium American Pilsner
Packed with so much hop character you could call it (and I did) IPL sneaking in via the back door, and all the more power to it. Never has a pilsner been more distinct from an ordinary lager.
Cassels Light Owl Light Pale Ale
It was the zero alcs that got the spotlight this year after they finally got to a place that could be called ‘good’, but it was this 2.5 percenter from Cassels that really stood out to me.
Behemoth Screw It Let’s Brew It! Triple IPA
Properly stupid-strong IPA is one of my favourite things. It’s also one of the hardest things to brew. Behemoth didn’t just get away with it though, they brewed one of the best in years.
Garage Project Epuni Street ESB
One of the high points of this year was seeing North Island breweries experimenting with English styles. This one from GP puts a distinctly Kiwi twist on those traditional flavours that really caught my attention.
Sprig & Fern Oast House Party NZ IPA
Sprig & Fern without a doubt brewed the best New Zealand IPA this year (IMO) with this ‘not quite fresh hop’ release. Also packaged in a great value 888ml growler, it’s my most repeat-bought beer of the year.
Concept Multitude of Sins Vol. 2 Golden Pear Barrel Sour
Concept Brewing launched their barrel program with a bang this year, finally coming full circle back to the beer they originally foresaw brewing. This was my favourite of the first releases. Pure, delicate and precisely captured fruit character.
Brood Fermentation X Kindeli Feijoa & Rye Saison
Of all the trophy winners at the Brewers Guild Awards, I found this beer/cider hybrid to be the most striking. Incredible breadth of flavour across both the malt and fruit spectrum, it hits the palate everywhere at once.
Zeelandt Bishop’s Kick Hefeweizen
Wheat beer enjoyed a small (and largely unsung) revival this year, with some great examples popping up both in the awards and around the scene generally. My favourite came from Zeelandt Brewing in Hawke’s Bay.
Garage Project Chance Luck & Magic 2020
Presently riding a two-year Brewers Guild Award trophy streak, this unbeatable beer is shining a much-deserved spotlight on daringly alternative styles of brewing. Also, delicious.
Timothy Taylor’s Landlord Pale Ale
Picked up at random from a supermarket where it had sat at ambient for goodness knows how long; still tasting exceptional. A shocking reminder of how robust malt-driven beer with strong bitterness can be. Or how fragile our modern juice bombs have become.
Denise Garland — Deputy Editor
Bach All Day Hazy IPA — TOP PICK
One of the few new releases that I genuinely had a “wow!” moment with. The citrus hop aromas, decent body and bitter finish work in balance to make me feel like I’m just drinking a good, regular-strength beer. It’s also a great food match.
Garage Project Chance, Luck & Magic 2020
The 2020 version was so incredible when it was released, and the 2021 version lives up to the strong example set by its predecessor. Perfect balance of tartness, sweetness and funk.
Brood Fermentation X Kindeli Feijoa and Rye
Feijoa funky goodness, with a beautiful malty spice to balance. It’s both special, yet incredibly drinkable. There’s really nothing else like it.
Shining Peak Octopus Clamp
A shining example of a schwarzbier — the best in NZ in my opinion! Beautiful roast malt, coffee and chocolate aromas and flavours perfectly counterbalanced by the drying bitterness and crisp finish.
8 Wired Fistful of Raspberries
Flawless balance between sour and sweet. A faceful of raspberries with every smell and mouthful — and it looked like a raspberry smoothie in the glass with the intensity of the deep pink-red colour.
Tuatara Infinite Singularity Elderflower and Bay Barleywine
Based on the recipe of the classic Thomas Hardy’s Ale, with the Elderflower and Bay leaf additions partnering beautifully with the sticky toffee and raisin flavours and aromas. Keep a close eye on future releases in this series — it was truly a joy to drink.
North End Bitter Sea ESB
A rare ESB that does well to marry the slight caramel malt flavour with classic English yeast esters like candied citrus peel and red apple skins, with an earthy bitter finish. Drinkable-as.
Parrotdog Sundog Pilsner
I love a well-brewed lager, and Parrotdog have nailed it with every pint and can of Sundog Pilsner I’ve had this year. It’s never failed to quench my thirst after a netball game this season (with the taproom a short walk from the courts). Tastes like a hard-fought victory!
Beer Baroness Shits and Giggles West Coast IPA
It seems hard to find a well-brewed West Coast IPA these days, with the balance between the malt body and big, hoppy bitterness a hard one to nail. Shits and Giggles stands out as a super fresh beer with a slightly sweet malt base and big tropical hop aroma and flavour.
Garage Project Yuzukoshō
An explosion of super sour citrus sherbet, followed by yet another of chilli and salt. I am in awe of how just flavour they can pack into the can, while all those completely different notes work in perfect harmony.
Martin Bridges — Beer Big Wig
McLeod’s Dortmunder Export Lager — TOP PICK
This is a stunning beer. Simultaneously cleansing, crisp, rich and flavourful with a decent whack of bitterness, this will be the beer of my summer (if Jason makes enough of it!).
8 Wired Luppolo Italian Pilsner
My favourite beer of last summer. Just an awesome cleansing pilsner with a lovely playful fruitiness.
Three Boys Dystopia Double IPA
I’ve been guilty of neglecting Three Boys, mainly because we don’t see them very often in Tamaki Makaurau. This was the pick of a very good mixed case from them. A textbook double IPA, punchy bitterness with a sweet malt cushion.
Derelict Four Pastry Stout
I classify pastry stouts as my guilty pleasure — I look down my nose at the crazy recipes, but some of them are just so tasty! This is a superb example that somehow manages to balance the chocolate, coconut, coffee and vanilla against a solid stout base.
Alibi Kummerspeck Zwickelbier
Such a great beer. Malt-driven lager with delicate balance and an awesome name.
Emerson’s Munich Dunkel Dark Lager
I described this as a cuddle in a glass. Awesome malt flavours. I’m so glad you can buy the limited releases from the taproom and have riggers sent around the country.
North End The Lash Foreign Export Stout
Everything I want in a stout. A bit of richness, some roasty savouriness, a hint of sweetness. Excellently executed.
Behemoth Awe-Inspiringly Sanctimonious Double Black IPA
Another superb name, and a great beer. My pick of the day at Churly’s birthday session earlier in the year. Black IPA had only a brief period of popularity, but this nails the style for me.
Ballast Point Dead Ringer Marzen
One of the fruits of the brew-under-licence deal between Behemoth and San Diego’s Ballast Point. Another delicious malty lager — you might have spotted a theme amongst my favourites!
Garage Project Earthly Delights West Coast IPA
One of a number of absolutely banging WCIPAs that Garage Project launched around Beervana time. Crunchy bitterness, delicious hop flavours and aromas, lovely balance.
Steph Coutts — Craft beer College
8 Wired Kohia Wit — TOP PICK
Orange, lemon, lime sherbet. A refreshing citrus burst that leaves a wee buzz on the palate. So easy to drink. More please.
Kereru Brewing Superb Owl
A classically-styled wit beer that hit all the right notes. Hints of orange, well spiced.
Double Vision Chillax
My beer of last summer after moving down the road from the brewery. Easy drinking with enough zesty bitterness to be interesting.
8 Wired Smoked Baltic Porter
So, so smooth and well balanced. Presents beautifully. Was well rounded and smooth. Sweet and savoury.
Brood Fermentation Harvest Ale
Perfectly fermented. Hints of spice, with a subtle funkiness and a quiet wine-like backnote. Dry, sophisticated.
Shining Peak Octopus Clamp
Light chocolatey characters entwined with a fruity hop bitterness. The latest batches have been on-point.
Brave Brewing Tigermilk IPA
Fruity malt and classic US hops combine into a balanced and ridiculously drinkable classic IPA. Should be a cult classic.
North End Bones of the Land Saison
A classic Saison, but cleverly brewed from Aotearoa. Integrated and complex. A wonderful food beer.
Garage Project Pickle Beer
Tart, refreshing and fun. Just enough pickle spice to tickle the taste buds. Great with cheese.
Duncan’s Yum Yum Yuzu
It’s yum yum. A delightful lager with a yuzu citrus twist. Perfect summer drinking.
8 Wired Gorky Park Imperial Stout — TOP PICK
This boozy beer had all the knobs expected of a bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout. It may not be subtle but this one is big, bold and gnarly in taste and has a dry finish with some sweet vanilla.
North End Crow and Crown Oaked Yorkshire strong ale (aka stingo)
Smooth and satisfying full-bodied ale with caramel notes and a restrained, but discernible, oaking. Complex and strong, this is beer for a classic quiet sup and contemplation.
8 Wired Wild Feijoa Sour Ale
For me this is New Zealand’s leading contribution to the sour ale canon. Great feijoa flavours and aroma with heaps of wood influence, and more than a little funk. The finish is sour with wood, not the punishing tartness of many kettle sours. Bracing and satisfying.
Baylands Slope Shredder NZIPA
Tasty and balanced NZ IPA. Fruit notes from Nelson Sauvin, Nectaron and Wai-iti hops and a slight malt sweetness in the finish.
Whistling sisters Irish Stout
Pukka dry stout that has a roasted malt aroma, medium-hop bitterness and dry finish with more roasted notes. Great from the hand pull.
Waitoa Mosaniac Single Hop IPA
Classic single-hop IPA using an iconic US craft beer hop. Aromas of tropical and stone fruit and flavours of lemon, grapefruit and mangoes.
Double Vision Strong Operator Imperial Coconut Cream Ale
Fun-filled beer with coconut, cream and candy in the aroma, a creamy taste up front with some coconut and a touch of lemon from the hops. Light-bodied with a sherbety mouthfeel, there’s a creamy vanilla finish and a bit of bouff from the 8%.
Beer Baroness Date Nut Brown Ale
Soft and satisfying brown ale with a fruity palate and flavour that has a sweet date note. A subdued date sweetness is noticeable in the finish, but is balanced out by some malt roastiness.
North End The Lash Export Stout
Glorious. Smooth and roasty with some herbal hop notes. Hides its 7.2% well.
Epic x Tiny Rebel Rebel Yell IPA
NZ-UK collab that has sweet, malty flavours and a savoury, almost vegetal hop note. Great pub pint.
Chinchilla Tart Side Of The Moon #6 Lemon With Burnt Whip Cream Oat Cream Sour — TOP PICK
Perfection. The zany tang of lemon pucked my lips and smacked my face but boy oh boy this left a lasting impression. The best beer this year for me.
Double Vision Sassy Clucker Pineapple & Pomegranate Ice Cream Sour
This was the beer that summed up summer. Soft and sweet.
Duncan’s Key Lime & Coconut Pie Ice Cream Sour
A delicious dessert converted into an even more delicious beer.
Garage Project OTP Rose, Lemon and Saffron
A delicate mix of ingredients which created havoc with my tastebuds.
Urbanaut Lucky Lychee & Yuzu Hazy IPA
Yuzu will always be a winning ingredient in beer in my eyes. Especially in a hazy.
Behemoth The Longest IPA In Town
Milkshake IPA that could easily replicate a milkshake. So thick and refreshing.
Sauce Brewing Co Toasted Pineapple Strong XPA
The bitterness of pineapple with the strong toasted taste meant I got this beer multiple times
Zeelandt Brewery Brunhilde’s Fate Smoky Lager
Just the thought of the smoke mixing with a crisp refreshing lager taste makes my mouth water again
Deep Creek Crazy Hazy
A thick bounty of passionfruit makes this one extra juicy and hazy
Three Sisters Brewery Sour Plooms #9 Lemon, Lime and Bitters Pastry Sour
Aromatic and sour as anything. So easy to drink.
Alibi x Bracket Solid Excuse Black Double IPA — TOP PICK
My ultimate beer — toasty and roasty yet hoppy and fruity, sweet-bitter perfect balance. Gold.
Heyday Jeremiah Imperial Pilsner
Great showcase of NZ hops in a crisp and danky NZ Pilsner with lime, melon and passionfruit hits.
Shining Peak Gung Ho Fresh Hop IPA
My fresh hop beer of the year. Superb use of Nelson Sauvin — lush, green, dank and oily — and lots of gooseberry, grape and passionfruit.
8 Wired Wild Feijoa Ale 2021
The ultimate in feijoa and beer — soft, creamy yet tart. Beautiful layers.
Sawmill Quadruple Vintage Ale
Absolute delight. Candied sugar meets raisins, apricots and spice. A class act.
Test Lab Red Rave Planet Red IPA
My fave Red IPA of the year with loads of toffee/caramel meets pine/herb/citrus and apricot. Highly recommend.
Bootleg Brewery Jake & Elwood Blues Bros Blueberry Sour
The best blueberry beer I’ve had and quite possibly the best sour as well — so much blueberry offset by a gentle sweet vanilla.
McLeod’s Sea Spray Dry Hopped Pilsner
Great example of NZ pilsner featuring Riwaka and Nelson Sauvin hops. Crisp, light, oily, dank with gooseberry and passionfruit. A summer must.
Sprig + Fern Norty Porter
Adult chocolate milk right here. Smooth creamy chocolatey deliciousness.
Eddyline That’s Eddy’s Drop West Coast IPA.
Well-deserved westy of the year. Hop forward punch meets melon, pineapple, pine and coconut with a spikey bitterness. Nailed it.
Brave Brewing Sparkle Juice Brut IPA
Super crisp and refreshing with a sherbety carbonation. Grape, passionfruit and lychee notes on a bone-dry finish. Amazing.
Brothers Beer Velvet Love Potion Chocolate Stout
Cupid juice right here in a no-hop stout with loads of chocolate/coffee/cacao/peanut notes offset by sweet vanilla. Yum.
Duncan’s Brewing Whippy Milkshake IPA — TOP PICK
I am not normally big on fruity/tropical beers but this is splendid. Proper mango lassi flavour.
Garage Project Tiny non-alcoholic Hazy IPA
Because sorta-non-alcoholic beers are having a moment and I have been taking this one with me to dinners at friends’ and drinking without having to worry about who’s driving home.
Rhyme x Reason Calm Down Karen Black IPA
Hoppy and delicious. Extra points for the zeitgeisty name and label design.
Urbanaut Hacienda Disco Beer
This super-dry lager is re-fermented with champagne yeast, which goes a long way towards justifying that extra crisp finish. Perfect on a sunny day, with so much lemon and lime it could almost count as one of your five-a-day.
Heyday Reality Cat Hazy IPA
A soft New England IPA full of pineapple and pine. With so many hazies around, it’s getting harder to find a standout — but this is one.
Garage Project Pickle Beer
Everyone I know hates it, which I love because it means I don’t have to share. Fair warning: do not buy unless you find the idea of drinking pickle juice appealing.
Kereru Nine Inch Snails Hazy IPA
Great band, great beer, no complaints. A perfect balance of NZ and US hops in a well-balanced hazy.
Mcleod’s Up North IPA
Has McLeod’s ever made a bad beer? If they have, I have not found it. Hoppy, malty, delicious.
Burkes Brewing Lord Flashheart American Blonde Ale
It’s not easy to make a standout blonde ale but this Blackadder-inspired beer from Tekapo definitely punches above its weight. Light, crisp, easy to drink.
Garage Project Snug
While no stout will ever compare to a Guinness, Garage Project’s Snug is stiff competition. Soft and velvety, it really is like a big warm cuddle on a winter’s day.
Liberty Firestarter West Coast IPA — TOP PICK
You sense that this is the big dog. But it isn’t. It’s quite a mild and really easy-going amiably bitter beer, really enjoyable.
North End Bones of the Land Saison
The taste is luxurious with a pillowy sugary soft body that has some marvellous favours from the familiar yeasts
Burke’s Unforgiven Porter
Wow. Smoke smooth silky delicious deep dark shiny beer. Quite a decadence in the mouthfeel with a low-end bitterness to keep this grounded.
Sprig + Fern G.O.A.T. Doppelbock
Lovely toasted malty base. This is rather nice and pleasing. It’s just good doppelbock.
Epic Sequoia Double IPA
An absolutely amazing and gorgeous malty beer that’s low and approachable on bitterness, and low and slow in unfolding taste and sweetness
Kereru Possible Panther Curry Pale Ale
A crisp pale ale with all the flavours of bright citrus and galangal that crouch over creamy coconut, with a final pounce of spicy hot chillies. Remarkable.
Deep Creek Virgo Belgian Tripel
Smooth and polished beer that is simple and easy to drink but lacks nothing in taste, flavour or delivery, top-shelf superb beer
Alibi X Bracket Solid Excuse Cold Black Double IPA
This is a wonderfully lovely beer. Ticks a whole lot of boxes from lovely to look at to smooth the drink. Tasty notes and a light bitterness. What’s not to like?
Three Sisters Best Bitter, North End Bitter Sea ESB, Whistling Sisters Best Bitter
My trio of Christmas-came-early beers that I really enjoyed because they reminded me of proper honest English beer. While all slightly different they all brought an enormous smile.
“Crafty” MARK GOWER
Brave Brewing Tigermilk IPA — TOP PICK
With the introduction of so many new beers to the market, it’s easy to forget about the original gems hidden away in the craft beer section of your local New World. For me, Tigermilk IPA delivers the absolute perfect drinking experience…balance, flavour and freshness making it my Number One pick for 2022.
McLeod’s Tropical Cyclone IIPA
Beautifully balanced, complex and full of rich fruit cake-type notes giving it great complexity: sultana and raisin characters envied that of my grandmother’s Christmas cake!
Lakeman Brewing On Trial Hazy IPA
As the name suggests, jam-packed full of NZ trial hops that deliver a rich, smooth drinking experience with a stone fruit and cherry finish. NZ Hop 102 is included in this beer and is a future favourite for me!
The Island Dawn Daze IPA
The Island is my ‘new discovery’ brewery for 2022. Head Brewer Michael Julian is producing high-quality beer showcased in their Dawn Daze Hazy IPA. A big bowl of tropical fruits best describes the flavour, equally balanced with some long-lingering bitterness
Bach Brewing Bad Cone Unfiltered NZ Hopped IPA
Harvest-fresh Motueka, Nelson Sauvin, Riwaka and Nectaron hops are the stars of the show with this beauty of a beer. It’s super-juicy and oh-so smashable. Clearly one of the best hazies I’ve consumed in the past 12 months and a credit to Craig and the team at Bach Brewing!
Bootleg Brewery Baby Face Nelson IPA
I’m not the biggest fan of single-hopped beers, but this gem from Bootleg Brewery challenges my thinking. The aromatics are bold with plenty of the white wine grape character the hop is famous for and fresh crispy finish
Good George Brewing Virtual Reality Non-Alcoholic Hazy IPA
This year has seen an enormous amount of new product come into the non-alcoholic beer segment. Traditionally, these beers have been terrible however, this beer from Good George really appealed to me…lots of hop aroma, great flavour and good depth of complexity
Liberty Brewing Co Prohibition Porter
For a guy that doesn’t really drink or enjoy dark beers, this beer rocked in 2022! If you’re feeling adventurous, let it climb to room temperature and pour it over your favourite vanilla ice cream…you won’t be disappointed!
Michael Donaldson — Editor
North End Bones of the Land Saison — TOP PICK
If you told me I could drink just one style of beer for the rest of my life, Saison would be it. And this is one of the very best. Distinctive yeast and earthy hops create an ensemble of flavours that include hay, bread, lemon zest and pepper.
Bach All Day Hazy IPA
Call this the non-alc top pick. Bach, in conjunction with the team at Steam Brewing, has led the field from the start in the non-alcoholic beer field. Perfect hoppiness, real flavour, hardly any sugar. So good I’d choose to drink it whether I needed a zero or not.
Good George Haze of Glory
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of hazy beers, as they can all blend into a flavour one-ness. But when a good one crosses my lips, I know it. Haze of Glory is so lush and rich with a mango lassi meets pineapple juice flavour offset by just enough bitterness to keep it real.
Burkes Unforgiven Porter
This won champion beer at the NZ Beer Awards in 2021 but, shamefully, I was late to the show and tried it only this year. It’s a magnificent beer that’s got an x-factor that makes it more than the sum of its very delicious parts. Smooth, creamy, chocolate meets black coffee roastiness.
Brave Brewing Bottle Rocket
I’m fully predicting that clean, hoppy, pale ales in the mid-5 per cent range will make a comeback in 2023. I hope so. The benchmarks for me included Parrotdog Falcon, Boneface Hoptron, McLeod’s Paradise Pale Ale, and Brave Bottle Rocket. Forced to pick one I’ll be brave and go the Bottle Rocket.
There were so many great examples of malty lagers in 2022 and alongside 8 Wired’s Oktoberfest Lager, this one stood out for me with the sessionable ABV, great flavour and amusing name (Google it!).
Badass Beverages Hefe Metal
German-style Hefeweizen had a great year, and the cleverly-named Hefe Metal from Badass took the trophy at the NZ Beer Awards. Banana lollies, bubblegum and woody spice come with a spritzy delivery for awesome summer drinking.
Deep Creek Virgo
How good? So good that after I tried one, I ordered a case of 12 and I’m going to have one a month in 2023! Delicately perfumed with clove and orange, a hint of hops, some white pepper and a lovely dry finish.
8 Wired Fistful of Raspberries
Made in the traditional framboise style this had bountiful raspberry character hint of vanillin from the barrel and offset by a bright acidity and dry tannic finish. Complex, delicately balanced world-class.
Sunshine Mexican Lager
Honestly, don’t be fooled by the name, just think hoppy lager. Or light-bodied pale ale! This beer straddles definitions but your mouth won’t lie: it smells great and drinks superbly.
So that, people, is a list featuring 97 different beers — so here are three bonus editor’s picks to get to us 100!
McLeod’s Harvest Moon
Autumn cannot come soon enough, for that is when we next see this tremendous Cascadian Dark Ale.
Sawmill Aotearoa Series Red IPA
In a year when there were lots of great Red IPAs, this one coloured me happy.
Garage Project Proper IPA
So light and fragrantly hoppy. I think the spuds worked wonders in this to create a “brut-style” dry IPA. Plus, those crisps… Mmmmmmh.