Beer in New Zealand
Beer is the most popular alcoholic drink in New Zealand, accounting for 63% of available alcohol for sale. At around 64.7 litres per person per annum, New Zealand is ranked 27th in global beer consumption per capita. The vast majority of beer produced in New Zealand is a type of lager, either pale or amber in colour, and typically 4% – 5% alcohol by volume.
Although the two largest breweries in New Zealand, Lion Nathan and DB Breweries, control almost 90% of sales by volume between them, there are over 150 smaller craft breweries and brewpubs producing a vast range of beer styles, including many ales.
The first beer brewed in New Zealand was by Captain Cook while anchored in Ship Cove in the outer reaches of Queen Charlotte Sound in January 1770. Here Cook experimented with the use of young Rimu branches as a treatment against scurvy. It was brewed on Saturday 27 March 1773 on Resolution Island, in Dusky Sound, Fiordland. The beer was brewed using wort with addition of molasses and rimu bark and leaves. Captain James Cook brewed a beer flavoured with local spruce tree needles while visiting New Zealand in 1773 in order to combat scurvy aboard his ship.
We also began to brew beer from the branches or leaves of a tree, which much resembles the American black-spruce. From the knowledge I had of this tree, and the similarity it bore to the spruce, I judged that, with the addition of inspissated juice of wort and molasses, it would make a very wholesome beer, and supply the want of vegetables, which this place did not afford; and the event proved that I was not mistaken.
There is no oral tradition or archaeological evidence of the indigenous people of New Zealand (Māori) brewing beer before the arrival of Europeans and major ingredients of beer were not introduced to New Zealand until Europeans arrived in the late 18th century.
The first commercial brewery in New Zealand was established in 1835 by Joel Samuel Polack in Kororareka (now Russell) in the Bay of Islands. During the 19th century, New Zealand inherited the brewing traditions and styles of the United Kingdom and Ireland, being where the majority of European immigrants originated from during that time – thus the dominant beer styles would have been ales, porters & stouts.
During the late 19th and early 20th century, similar to the UK and the USA, the Temperance movement had become a powerful and popular lobby group. In 1919 at a national referendum poll, prohibition gained 49% of the vote and was only defeated when the votes of returned servicemen were counted. However, one aspect of wartime regulation was made permanent: a 6 pm closing time for licensed premises. This created the culture of the Six o'clock swill, a law that was not repealed until 1967, and was to have an influence on the styles of beer brewed and drunk in New Zealand.
In the 1930s, the New Zealander Morton W. Coutts invented the continuous fermentation process. Gradually, beer production in New Zealand shifted from ales to lagers, using continuous fermentation. The style of beer made by this method has become known as New Zealand Draught, and became the most popular beer during the period of 6 pm closing.
During the same period, there was a gradual consolidation of breweries, such that by the 1970s virtually all brewing concerns in New Zealand were owned by either Lion Breweries or Dominion Breweries. Later, in the 1980s, small boutique or microbreweries started to emerge, and consequently the range of beer styles being brewed increased. The earliest was Mac's Brewery, started in 1981 in Nelson. Some pubs operated their own small breweries, often housed within the pub itself.
In recent years, pale and amber lager, the largest alcoholic drinks sector in terms of volume sales, have been on a downward trend as a result of a declining demand for standard and economy products.
Conversely, ale production in New Zealand is primarily undertaken by small independent breweries & brewpubs, the Shakespeare Brewery in Auckland city being the first opened in 1986 for the 'craft' or 'premium' sector of the beer market. In 2010, this 'craft/premium' sector grew by 11%, to around 8% of the total beer market. This has been in a declining beer market, where availability of beer has dropped 7% by volume in the two previous years.
With a growth rate of 25% per year, Craft beer and microbreweries were blamed for a 15 million litre drop in alcohol sales overall in 2012, with Kiwis opting for higher-priced premium beers over cheaper brands.
The craft beer market in New Zealand is varied and progressive, with a full range of ale & lager styles of beer being brewed. New Zealand is fortunate in that it lies in the ideal latitude for barley and hops cultivation. A breeding programme had developed new hop varieties unique to New Zealand, many of these new hops have become mainstays in New Zealand craft beer.
Given the small market and relative high number of breweries, many breweries have spare capacity. A recent trend has seen the rise of contract brewing, where a brewing company contracts to use space in existing breweries to bring the beer to the market. Examples of contract brewers include Epic Brewing Company, Funk Estate and Yeastie Boys.
Over 2011 and 2012, New Zealand faced a shortage of hops, which affected several brewers countrywide. The shortage was primarily caused by a hop shortage in North America. Brewers Guild president Ralph Bungard noted that Americans were scrambling to get their hands on Kiwi hops as they were becoming more trendy in the American micro-brew market. One specialty brewery, Tuatara Brewery had just commenced production of an American Pale Ale—when the American hop shortage arose, they then created an Aotearoa Pale Ale, with New Zealand hops.
The most widely recognised style of beer to have originated in New Zealand is NZ Draught. This is generally a malty, lightly hopped amber lager between 4% – 5% abv. Martyn Cornell, the British beer writer, has suggested that New Zealand Draught is partly an evolution of the late 19th century Mild Ale, which was popular with the British working classes, many of whom emigrated to New Zealand. However, the beer is usually brewed using the continuous fermentation process and a lager yeast. During the period of the six o'clock swill, the beer was dispensed from kegs directly into customer's beer jugs using a hose and tap.
Much of the original ale lineage lingers on in the branding of nearly all NZ Draught beer, e.g. Speights Gold Medal Ale. In addition to this, the New Zealand Consumers' Institute recently criticised Tui for claiming to be an "East India Pale Ale" when it is in fact an amber lager that bears no resemblance to the traditionally hoppy, bitter India Pale Ale style.
- Lion Breweries (owned by the Japanese company Kirin)
- DB Breweries (owned by Heineken, based in The Netherlands)
- Independent Breweries Ltd (owned by the Japanese company Asahi) 
In addition, some international brands are brewed under licence in New Zealand. Some examples are Heineken, Amstel, and Tiger  (DB Breweries); Kingfisher, Carlsberg, Holsten, and Tuborg (Boundary Road); and Kilkenny, Corona, Budweiser, Guinness, Stella Artois, and Beck's (Lion Nathan).
Microbreweries, nanobreweries & contract brewers
The following list contains some of the more well established craft breweries of New Zealand. There are numerous additional brands that operate at a semi-professional level and tend to come and go.
|Boundary Road Brewery||Hunua||1987||Owned by Asahi Group via Independent Liquor|
|Brew Moon||Amberley||Brew pub|
|Emerson's Brewery||Dunedin||1993||In November 2012 the brewery was purchased by Australasian company Lion.|
|Epic Brewing Company||Auckland||2006|
|Good George Brewing||Hamilton||2011|
|Eagle Brewing NZ||Christchurch||Once known as Golden Eagle Brewery|
|Hot Water Brewing||Coromandel|
|Mike's Organic Brewing||Taranaki||1990|
|Moa Brewing Company||Marlborough Region||2003|
|Panhead Custom Ales||Wellington||2013||In 2016 the brewery was purchased by Lion Breweries, a division of Kirin |
|Pomeroy's||Christchurch||Brew pub formerly distributing beer under the name Four Avenues|
|The Shakespeare Brewery||Auckland||New Zealand's first brew pub|
|Sprig & Fern Brewery||Nelson|
|Steam Brewing Company||Auckland||1995|
|Tuatara Brewery||Wellington||2000||Purchased in 2017 by DB Breweries |
|Wigram Brewing Company||Christchurch||2003|
|Yeastie Boys||Wellington||Brewed at the Invercargill Brewing facilities|
- Brothers Beer, Auckland CBD
- The Shakespeare Brewery (New Zealand's First brewery in a pub, since 1986)
- Dux de Lux, Christchurch & Queenstown
- Hallertau Brewbar & Restaurant, Auckland
- Deep Creek, Browns Bay, Auckland
- Mac's Brewbar, Wellington
- Mussell Inn, Onekaka
- Brew Moon, Canterbury
- The Crafty Trout, Taupo
- Cassell and Sons, Christchurch
- Brew Craft Beer Pub, Rotorua & Tauranga
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-  Archived 29 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
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- Charles Cole. "Our beer, no longer here". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2013-08-01.
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- "Emerson's sold to Lion NZ". 3 News NZ. 6 November 2012.
- "Wellington brewery Panhead Custom Ales sold to Lion Group". Stuff Business. 27 May 2016.
- "Hieneken owned DB buys Tuatara for undisclosed sum". NBR. 31 Jan 2016.
- AA Travel Guide - 101 Must Dos for Kiwis
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