People hailing from the little islands of New Zealand like to drink, and they know what they like—and that’s beer. In fact, nearly 63% of the alcohol sold in New Zealand is beer! Whether it’s craft brew, from a microbrewery, or even from the local shop. New Zealand, in fact, now has more breweries on a per capita basis than its much larger competitors, including the UK, the US, and even Australia!
Ales Vs. Lagers
When it comes to beer, there are two main choices: ale or lager. All nz beer produced will either be an ale or a lager. This simply refers to how the beer itself is brewed.
- Lagers: Lagers refer to beers that are brewed at a cooler temperature by slow fermentation. The result is typically a beer that has a crisper taste, and usually a lower alcohol content. Lagers are very drinkable, lighter in flavour, and don’t have nearly as much of a hop as some other ales. Popular beers that are lagers include:
- Pilsner: a straw-coloured, clear beer with a sharp, tangy bite at the end. These have a mild hop but are very drinkable.
- Pale lager: These are the most common of the lager family. Light, low hop, and ultimate drinkability are what you can expect with these beers.
- Schwarzbier: Think of these as the “stout counterpart” in relation to lagers. Hailing originally from Germany, this lager is darker in colour and similar to a stout, usually has coffee or chocolate flavours and aromas. Similar to most lagers, however, this beer is still light and crisp, making it a very easy-to-drink lager.
- Ales: Ales, in opposition to their lager counterpart, have been brewed at a warmer temperature, which usually leads to a sweeter, more full-bodied beer with a fruity taste. It is softer on the palate and will have a higher alcohol content than most lagers. Notable ales are:
- Brown ales: These are mild and a light to medium brown. These can sometimes have a nuttier taste.
- IPAs: IPAs are a common ale, most notably known for their strong hop flavour. They can range from citrusy to piney.
- Porters or Stouts: With a well-roasted malt, these give off roasted chocolate and coffee flavours. They tend to be low in hop, and thick and creamy.
No matter what beer you choose in New Zealand, with all of the breweries and beers in NZ, you’re sure to find a hit!