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70 Highly Commended Beer & Ciders

These beers & ciders were awarded Highly Commended at the New World Beer & Cider Awards. They have varied availability - some are widely available, some are only available in selected New World stores and some are seasonal releases. These are all fantastic brews so if you see them, snap them up! Tap the tile to see the tasting notes. 
Kereru For Great Justice Coconut Porter

Dessert beers are a real thing now, but long before we had them, we had this beer. Deceptively light palate, sweet notes of milk chocolate and Caramello. Toasted coconut shows as it warms. One for the Bounty lovers out there, our judges said.

Three Boys Wheat

A Belgian-style Witbier with a Kiwi twist. Here they use lemon zest rather than the traditional orange zest for the flavour. This is such a sensory-pleasing style of beer. Wonderful aromas, great mouthfeel, refreshing finish and this is a world-class example.

8 Wired iStout

A decadently gorgeous imperial stout. Chocolate, dates, leather, liquorice and a fortified wine intensity. Rich, warming and sweetly mouthfilling. Beautifully presented with a tan head, smooth rich malt, well-balanced full-bodied beer.

Good George Fog City Hazy IPA

A tribute, says Hamilton-based Good George, to the misty mornings of the Waikato region. This is tropical with a pinch of citrus zest to counter the sweet.?While creamy on the palate thanks to wheat and rolled oats, it finishes nicely dry and airy.

Liberty Jungle Juice

Liberty delivered five hoppy beers into the Top 100, an outstanding achievement including this hazy IPA which the judges loved for the hop intensity and mix of pine, citrus and tropical. The sweetness just holds out the bitterness all the way through.

Mata Feijoa Cider

Whakatane-based Mata have made the most of local fruit in this excellent marriage of flavours. Our judges loved the lifted feijoa and honey notes which integrated perfectly with the apple to create fantastic, clean, elegant, very drinkable.

Brave Brewing Co Bottle Rocket

Described as an extra pale ale with the extra here meaning more as it sits at 5.6% ABV, in contrast to many lighter-weight XPAs on the market. In short, it's extra delicious. Soft, balanced, citrus-piney and delightfully coherent. A wee ripper.

Liberty Hoptical Illusion

Light, yet juicy, thanks to the rule-bending bravado at Liberty Brewing. They've taken the lightest malts, reserved for lagers, and brewed a double IPA. The gentle mouthfeel belies the big flavour of sweet, juicy hoppy gorgeousness.

McLeod's Pioneer Porter

Surprisingly refreshing and light for a darker beer, so throw your perceptions aside. Cocoa and red berry flavours give way to a dry finish. Modern take on an old-fashioned style. Layers of yum sewn together with the lightest thread.

Orchard Thieves Lower Sugar Apple Cider

The lower sugar-variant of Orchard Thieves Apple Cider, this has around 9g of sugar per bottle without any loss of flavour. Judges loved the intense aromatics, orange blossom and spice. Persistent and juicy, good length, interesting and drinkable.

Cassels Nectaron® IPA 

Nectaron ® is the trademark name for a new hop variety released last year and this is one of the first beers to use it on a regular basis. It delivers everything the hop is famed for, orange, pineapple and ripe peach yumminess with just-right bitterness.

Rhyme and Reason Mt. Alpha IPA

Rhyme and Reason are among a cohort of Wanaka-based breweries bringing great beer to the famed holiday spot. This has a great aroma and just-right sweet-bitter balance, said the judges, who praised the great drinkability of this IPA.

Sunshine Pale Ale

Hard to get a more approachable and balanced pale ale than this beauty from Gisborne's Sunshine: bright, light medium-bodied with good length and a hoppy shine. Really fresh NZ hop character, a good amount of intensity for a pale ale, the judges said.

Steinlager Pure Light

Amazing effort from Steinlager to get four variations of the brand into the Top 100, which suggests that wherever your tastes lie there's a Steinie for you. This lower alcohol variation of Pure got the thumbs up for its technical precision.

JuiceHead Fusion NZ Pilsner

Making a pilsner with Nectaron® hops is a daring enterprise because the big juicy pineapple and ripe fruit notes of Nectaron® shouldn't suit a lean style like pilsner. But it works while pushing boundaries. Intense version of the style, the judges said.

Boneface Voodoo XPA

Vibrant, fantasy artwork reflects the beauty of this pour and the lively, punchy flavours that belie the 4.6% ABV last deep into the glass, aided by a persistently pleasant buzz of bitterness. Great looking beer, well brewed, the judges said.

Garage Project Fugazi

For a 2.2% beer this one really rocks. It's got a just-there mouthfeel enough to tell you it's beer and a stonkingly well-balanced hop bitterness that delivers waves of flavours that keep you interested after the initial aroma hit.

Colab Brewing American Pale Ale

Colab started in Riverhead, Auckland, a few years back, but the business was sold last year to Heidi and Martyn Crockett and moved to Dome Forest near Warkworth. They will do well, as this unfiltered APA is spot-on gorgeous.

Mata Merry Berry Cider

Cleverly named for the iconic British food writer and chef, Mary Berry, this has handpicked strawberries and boysenberries from Julian's Berry Farm in Whakatane. Light pink, redolent of berries on the nose which carries over to the intense flavour.

Paynter's Cider The Pilgrim

Creamy, buttery apple and tart lime aromas. Vanilla and juicy apple on the mid-palate with a lushness followed by a brisk finish thanks to firm tannic dryness. Judges loved the inviting nose with honey and apple blossom.

Steinlager Pure

The tweaked version of the Classic, which leans towards sweetness over bitterness, but still has some big flavours that our judges really enjoyed. They praised vibrant mouthfeel, good balance and drinkability.

Behemoth Brew Team Assemble

This is the first beer Behemoth brewed out of their new Mt Eden headquarters in Auckland, hence the name. And for a brewery that churns out so many hazies, of course it's a great big cloudy fuzzball of a beer with big oomph.

Garage Project Electric Acid Dry Hop Test

Bright acidity buzzes across the palate on the first sip and it hangs on for a long ride. A little sweet malt pushes through to balance and it finishes with a tingle of lime zest and woody spice. The judges loved its complex yet easy-drinking nature.

Double Vision Brewing Smooth Operator

If you were a fan of creaming soda as a kid or even as an adult, really then take yourself on a trip with this decidedly unusual beer brewed with vanilla, lactose, honey and cornflakes yes, cornflakes. It sings creaming soda in a grown-up way.

Bach DRIFTWOOD Pacific Pale Ale

A combination of US and NZ hops on a bright, light base makes this a deliciously easy-drinking pale. It's full-flavoured but gentle, and the judges loved it: Fantastic tropical hop aromas, extremely clean malt and a well-presented example of the style.

Honeycone Hopped Mead by Beehave!

Based in the hills high above Lake Taupo, Beehave make the most of their bush setting with the bees getting access to a range of native trees. The hops add a nice herbal note that offsets the sweetness of the sparkling mead, said the judges.

Garage Project Pickle Beer

No, this is not a trick, or some hidden camera exercise, this is a beer that tastes like the best pickles you've ever had like the ones on McDonald's burgers. It's seriously mind-bending, but if you like pickles and you like beer, you'll love this.

Garage Project Astral Projection

Garage Project are masters at style-blending, mind-bending beers and this epitomises what they do so well. A blend of sweet, juicy, hazy IPA and barrel-aged sour, this an intriguing blend of juicy, zesty, tannic, tart and fruit. Complex and compelling.

Brave Brewing Co Tigermilk IPA

A bit of a legend in its own time in Hawke's Bay where it sells out as fast as the Brave team can brew it. Excellent balance of malt sweetness supports just-right bitterness, light-bodied but bursting with the tropical hop notes.

Epic Hop Zombie

An absolute legend in its own lifetime, Hop Zombie was the first commercially released double IPA in New Zealand and remains the standard-bearer for the style with its gloriously huge hop flavours perfectly offset by a sweet malt base.

Three Wise Birds Bach Life

Three Wise Birds is Hawke's Bay family run business set up by brothers Jack and Charley Crasborn. This delivers a hint of sauvignon blanc on the nose followed by a zesty, medium-dry palate and a nice balance of complexity. Summery sipping.

1st Night Medium Mead

Hailing from Gisborne where Mead Amour makes a range of honey-based beverages, this is the first time they've featured in these awards. It's more a honey wine, medium-bodied and aged in oak. The judges found it intriguing, challenging, rewarding.

Mount Brewing Co. Tart Rhubarb Cider

Mt Maunganui based Mt Brewing are becoming experts at out-there ciders. Of course rhubarb is the perfect companion to apple, just no one thought to do it before nor so well. Judges loved the stewed rhubarb with brown sugar and orange juice, flavours.

Scrumpy Cider with Ginger

The latest addition to the popular scrumpy range coming to you as always in a 1.25L rigger. This really trickled the judges palates: Lifted ginger on the nose. Sweet, juicy palate with pleasant peppery note to finish, sitting on top of a great cider.

Zeelandt Black Monk Schwarzbier

Brings an attractive chocolate aroma with a hint of cold coffee in the background and a slight acidity. The body is lager-light but rich in flavour. It's full, smooth, sweet and yet delicately refreshing a great winter alternative to a pale lager.

Orchard Thieves Apple Cider

From the cider-arm of DB Breweries, this is a super-easy drinking cider with lots of fruity sweetness and just enough acidic balance to keep it from being too cloying. Pleasant fresh apple aroma, spice, honey and some floral notes, the judges said.

Parrotdog Falcon APA

Packed with lime zest and pine hop aroma and flavours, and a sleek, satisfying mouthfeel this is a beer that sings and zings, soars and roars. So much flavour, so easy to drink. A sitter for a regular six-pack in your shopping.

North End Iron Sands Oat Rye Stout

From Waikanae-based North End, this is a winter beer with complex ingredients chocolate wheat, caramelised rye but a clear taste profile. Smooth, chocolate, coffee and hints of sweet poached fruits. Subtle black forest flavours, said the judges.

Tiger Crystal

Released a couple of years, the beer draws its name from the sub-zero temperatures at which it's filtered, a process that enhances the smooth drinkability and brings a super-pale colour the judges said was beautiful

JuiceHead Mind Funk Tropical Sour

Juicehead is a Wellington brewery created by four bartending friends. Mind Funk is beer meets fruit juice. Rich passionfruit nose and fruity punchbowl sourness linger like a not quite ripe nectarine. Like tropical Just Juice, said the judges.

Zeffer Guava & Lime Cider

Gorgeously soft pink in the glass thanks to the guava, this pretty cider walks a fine line between expressive tropical fruit, homely, apple and a dash of lime. The judges loved the inspired blend of flavours and balanced drinkability.

Cassels Double Cream Milk Stout

Cassels are world-famous for their Milk Stout and they double-down, plus some more, in this imperial version. Velvet soft and smooth with mochaccino flavours. Liquorice rich, treacle and chocolate, seamless with great drinkability, said the judges.

Eddyline Brewery EddyLite Session Pale Ale

Nelson-based Eddyline has evolved from a pizza and beer brewpub into a full-on commercial operation and this is testament to the quality of the beer. You're unlikely to find a better 2.5% beer anywhere you look. Superb flavour and mouthfeel.

Epic Blue

Epic were the first craft brewery to boldly enter the low-carb market with Blue, which is touted as having 70% fewer carbs than Epic Pale Ale. Forget what you might think about mainstream low-carb beer, this is bursts with delicious hop goodness.

Baylands Slackline Sour Boysenberry

Presents beautifully with a fluffy pink head, reminiscent of candyfloss. Sharp berry sourness on the nose, like a berry berocca. Puckeringly refreshing, great berry hit followed with a salty, sour finish. Looks enticingly sweet but looks can be deceiving.

Coast Brewco Rocky Point

Brewed by The Theoretical Brewer, a small Taranaki brewery started by chemical engineer Douglas Eng. The beers are not widely available but if you're in the Naki, visit the taproom. This is a light, refreshing, pleasantly hoppy, zinger of a pale ale.

Steinlager Classic

An absolute legend on the New Zealand beer scene with its stern bitterness becoming more appreciated as the beer market adjusts its collective palate. Judges agreed, praising its real good bitterness, clean easy-drinking beer.

Bavaria 0.0% WIT

Even with zero alcohol, this retains traditional Witbier flavours. Ditto the mouthfeel nothing lacking here. It's brewing genius. Bubblegum and botanicals on the nose, full creamy body, clean finish. World-class example of an alcohol-free wheat beer.

Garage Project Trip Hop

This is an almost retro beer from Garage Project, being one of the original 24 beers that they launched with 10 years ago, and it's great to see it shine here. Think of it as a modern take on a classic English-style Extra Special Bitter. Malty-hoppy yum.

Brothers Beer Fear and Loathing

The Auckland brewery with a series of bars scattered across the city has hit the old-fashioned jackpot on this IPA. Huge palate-lashing of hops, with unapologetic bitterness that the judges loved, Truly fantastic beer, well done to the brewers.

Waitoa Beer Kia Ora Pilsner

Waitoa started life as a brewpub venture in the Wellington suburb of Hataitai but are now pushing it up a level with contract brewing at bStudio in Napier to make their debut here. This is a cracking pilsner with a briskly refreshing bitterness.

Lion Red

A classic beer of its genre, the New Zealand Draught style, Lion Red was a stand out. A trusted favouite for many years and found in pubs up and down the country, it was summed up simply as a great example of the style

Rocky Knob Undies Mini IPA

Consistently rated one of the best low alcohol beers on the market, Mt Maunganui-based Rocky Knob call this cheekily named beer a mini IPA. This mini IPA won more fans with the juicy dank hop aroma and caramel maltiness.

Banjo Brews Pear and Ginger

There's a remarkable amount of flavour and complexity packed into this 2.5% beverage. The kombucha tea notes jump out followed by the apple sweetness and ginger kick. Refreshing. Taking kombucha to an approachable level, judges said.

Garage Project Golden Path

The appearance of this beer sets the tone, with its pastel lemon sorbet good looks leading you on a flavour journey fuelled by the dank and herbal goodness of the Strata hop. It's 4.5% but delivers flavour in big dollops.

Three Boys Passionfruit Gose

Christchurch stalwarts Three Boys have produced a real gem here, with incredible passionfruit notes on a lightly salty base style and just 3.9% ABV. Judges loved stone fruit like characters, great balance, great complexity, great drinkability.

Good George Extra Dry Apple Cider

Hamilton outfit Good George make perennial appearances with both their cider and their beer. And no wonder, this is a cider our judges described, simply, as moreish. They added: Fresh and juicy, good balance, crisp finish. Well-made and refreshing.

Emerson's Bookbinder Session Ale

First released almost 30 years when Richard Emerson made it for the Oamaru Victorian Fete. Remains as relevant now thanks to tightly-packed flavours on a 3.7% ABV. As soft as a cat but with enough bite to satisfy. Well made, delicate, subtle, complex.

New New New Corporation Synaptic Voyage

Dunedin's cleverly named New New New Corp deliver some of the best experimental beers going around right now. They nail the flavours in this Thai lime and lemongrass sour beer, the lime hitting the top notes and the woody lemongrass playing bass.

Sprig & Fern Doppelbock

Rich notes of caramel and dark plums, with undertones of golden-baked biscuits. The mouthfeel is light and silky thanks to the low residual sugar and light carbonation. A big beer both on flavour and ABV but one which offers an elegant drinking experience.

Heineken 0.0

In the zero percent beer market, there's a clear line between the good stuff and the also-rans and this is a clear leader. It's got all the Heineken flavours. Great balanced example for a 0% lager, good hop character and super clean, said the judges.

Deep Creek Haiku Hazy Double IPA

Deep Creek's range of hazy IPAs draw on Japanese themes such as Zen, Geisha, Sensei and this lyrical double hazy IPA is lush with mango and orange juice but remains so restrained, so elegant and so balanced.

Panhead Supercharger APA

This cult beer is the driving force behind Panhead Custom Ales. Loved by beer geeks, bankers and tradies alike. Robust bitterness, perfectly constructed and bursting with ripe and zesty American hop characters.

Behemoth Now That's What I Call Hoppy - Zythos

A booming beer that lives up to its name is something to be applauded, and this is an absolute banger. Zythos is a blend of American hops named for the Greek word for beer. And yeah, it's head-on hoppy. A slap of pine resin and a wallop of sweet citrus.

Behemoth Murica

Superbly balanced but nicely bitter in the finish, this is an all-round satisfying American pale ale that offers plenty of flavour and balance that belies the 6% ABV. Nice, drinkable, clean and fresh. Firm lingering bitterness.

Tuatara Aotearoa Pale Ale

Something of a Kiwi classic from Paraparaumu-based Tuatara. It began life as a substitute for their American Pale Ale but took on a life of its own. Bitter but fruity Kiwi hops entwined with sweet malt creates a retro-style marmalade flavour.

Three Sisters Brewery Hot Rod

An unusual smoked lager from New Plymouth's Three Sisters. A complex mix of smoke and sweet malt. Beautiful beer, balanced and great flavours, smoke is great and the base beer is wonderful. Very complex and enjoyable to drink, said the judges.

Waitoa Beer Penny Black Porter

Two beers in the Top 100 for Waitoa and this is a classic porter. Dark, but sweet, chocolate wrestles with a coffee undertow that adds a barely-there bitter-charred note that builds ever so slightly as you move through the glass.

Emporium Brewing Elbows Off

A Belgian Table Beer means low ABV (3%), packed with flavour and designed to be drunk with a meal. They are little seen in NZ which is a shame as this is zesty, spicy and easy-drinking. Excellent beer, great drinkability, the judges proclaimed.

Boneface Snaggletooth India Pale Ale

A clean, light, easy-drinking IPA of the modern genre, Snaggletooth has a well-rounded yet assertive grapefruit-led bitterness that is under-cut by a softer, sweet stone fruit and grape character.Flavour packed and super-balanced.