August 2 marks International Beer Day and if there was ever a time to say good morning with a beer today would be it. But, on the other hand, if you didn't spot this in time, any day of the year is a good time to try a good Kiwi brew.
New Zealand’s beer industry has skyrocketed in recent years and the small boutique breweries are leading the charge. A New Zealand Institute of Economic Research report on behalf of the Brewers Association of New Zealand (BANZ) found there were 218 breweries in 2019 compared with 65 in 2012.
Thanks to the rapid rise in breweries, beer tourism in New Zealand is flourishing, with more operators than ever offering beer tours across New Zealand. The Brewers Guild of New Zealand has launched a website this year called the New Zealand Ale Trail which helps guide thirsty travellers to the best breweries around the country.
While food and wine festivals are still popular in New Zealand, beer festivals are quickly becoming a favourite with locals and international visitors. 2019 saw the first edition of the Gisborne Beer Festival, while Nelson’s MarchFest is seeing a 20 percent rise in attendance year-on-year. New Zealand’s premier beer festival Beervana takes place over the weekend of 9 and 10 August and it's always a near complete sell out.
It is no question that New Zealander beer lovers have evolved and are now akin to serious wine aficionados. IPAs, red ales and sour beers are regulars on taps around the country and there are brewers, tour guides and event organisers waiting to welcome visiting beer lovers with open arms and a cold beer.
New Zealand's Best Beer Tours
BrewBus – Multiple locations
Operating at seven different locations on both the North and South islands, the Brewbus is a fun and social way to sample some of the best beers that a region has to offer. Hop aboard Brewbus with one of their expert guides and try beers straight from the source.
Keith Prenne’s Craft Beer Tour of New Zealand – Christchurch
Keith Preene is a fictional character brought to life by Shay Horay, co-founder of Keith Prenne’s Craft Beer Tour of New Zealand. You don’t get to meet Keith, but he will guide you by way of an app through five Christchurch breweries. Download the app, visit the brewery and push play to let Keith tell the stories of the brewery in an educational and hilarious fashion. Just download from the App Store or Google Play.
Craft Beer College – Wellington
The Craft Beer College in Wellington is an ivy league school when it comes to beer tours and if you take one there is no doubt you will graduate with honours. The team say they run all sorts of tours for all sorts of people so if you know a little or a lot there is an experience for you. Embark on a walking tour of Wellington’s best breweries and beer bars but make sure you’re listening because there will be an exam at the end…..really.
Craft Beer College
Breweries to visit
Emerson’s Brewery – Dunedin
Emerson’s Brewery has been turning out consistently award-winning stouts, lagers, ales and more since 1992. Beer enthusiasts can get up close and personal with their favourite tipple, and the people who make it at their Dunedin HQ which runs brewery tours and has an onsite taproom and restaurant. The brewery and the beers are the creation of the legendary Richard Emerson, food technician turned brewmeister, who started out making beer in his downtime at work and then in the family kitchen, before moving into a friend’s garage in 1988.
Garage Project – Wellington
Wellington craft brewery Garage Project set out to create beers that were different and challenging to the palate. Their quirky beers continue to push boundaries and visitors will always be blown away with their scientific experiments. The brewery can be found in the Aro Valley in Wellington with a cellar door attached and there is also a taproom just down the road with 18 different varieties to choose from. Garage Project has a cellar door in Auckland’s hip suburb of Kingsland.
Sunshine Brewery – Gisborne
Sunny coastal Gisborne - the first town in the world to see the light of each new day – could be the best spot to enjoy International Beer day. The Sunshine Brewery, which has been turning out delicious batch-brewed beer using all-natural ingredients since 1989, boasts a taproom for tastings and welcomes visitors to enjoy a quiet beer and a bite to eat after a day on nearby Waikanae Beach or out on the sea.
MarchFest – 14 March 2020
Nelson Tasman’s beer and music festival in New Zealand’s main hop growing region.
Beervana – 9 & 10 August 2019
New Zealand’s largest beer festival is held annually in Wellington as part of Visa Wellington on a Plate.
Gisborne Beer Festival – April 2020
After a hugely successful first event in April 2019, Gisborne Beer Festival will be back bigger than ever in 2020.
Gisborne Beer Festival