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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. 
Laughing Bones Lazy Bones Cream Ale

A little under-the-radar brewery from Silverdale, north of Auckland. A cream ale is an American invention - a cross between a lager and an English ale. "Cream" is a slightly misleading term as this is light, delicately hopped with a drying finish.

Brew Moon Waipara (Toru) New England IPA

Lots of sweet mandarin coupled with a lush creamy texture make this a delightful New England IPA. It's called Toru - Maori for "three" - as it was the third in a series of IPAs created by Brew Moon. Hopped with Taiheke, Citra & Sabro.

Emerson's Pale Ale

Don't be fooled by the classy tartan look; under that kilt is a modern American Pale Ale from Dunedin's finest. Oily, resinous hop oils surge across a sweet malt body towards a perfectly balanced bitter finish. "Clean, vibrant", said the judges.

Deep Creek Dragon Hazy IPA

A thick and juicy hazy IPA from a brewery who really know their stuff in this style. Some lovely dank hop aromas intertwined with pineapple and peach. Flavour follows the aroma and ends with harmonious blend of fruit, citrus bitterness and herbal notes.

Cornet Oaked

One of three internationals in the Top 100, this is from De Hoorn Brewery in Steehuffle, Belgium, now owned by Dutch company Royal Swinkels Family Brewers. Lots of vanilla and a buttery texture. Very drinkable for a big (8.5 percent) beer.

Behemoth Brain Smiles Hazy Pale

One of the many great hazy pale ales to come off the Behemoth production line. Delicate peach and snappy citrus hops combine to create a nice balance. The beauty of this is the higher-than-average flavour on a lower-than-average ABV of 5.4 percent.

Three Sisters Brewery Sup Bro

From a small brewery run out of a garage near Taranaki's famous Oakura Beach this is a unique and stylish hazy IPA. There's pine needles, citrus and coconut cream - an interesting combination of aroma and flavour but "highly drinkable", said the judges.

Liberty Oh Brother

This feels much bigger than the 5 percent ABV indicates with loads of ripe flavours layered generously. Orange hop notes burst out, followed by sweet malt to create a generous mouthfeel coupled with juicy, orange zesty hops and a just-right bitterness.

North End Beach Hoist IPA

This started life as a collaboration with an American brewery, Barley Browns, but NZ hops replaced US ones. Piney, sweaty grapefruit on a smooth biscuity malt creates a lush and resinous body. Holds it all together until a long, bitter finish kicks in.

Good George Toasted Marshmallow Stout

Aroma bursts out like a happy child with a bag of sweets. Heaps of - yes, you guessed it - marshmallow layered with light chocolate. Despite all the sweet characters it manages to finish dry and refreshing. A quite special "dessert beer".

Lakeman Brewing Co. Purple Haze Hazey IPA

Kudos for the name, getting to the obvious Jimi Hendrix song before others. This nails the hazy brief. Lots of sweet mango laced with citrus, resinous, full-bodied and silky. Superbly well-rounded, generous and a just-right sweetness.

Te Aro Brewing Company Weasel Juice West Coast IPA

Te Aro Brewing started as the behind the scenes brewery at Brewtopia Home Brew Supplies in Te Aro, Wellington. But they've evolved to now be part of the growing Brewtown setup in Upper Hutt. Classic West Coast IPA - lots of dank and fruity hops.

Urbanaut Miami Brut Lager

Urbanaut, based in Auckland's Kingsland, are kings of the brut style. Here "brut" is borrowed from Champagne and signifies super dry, which also means super-easy drinking. Delightful tropical fruit hop notes add to the experience as does a cute 250ml can.

8 Wired Hippy Berliner

This is a hopped Berliner Weisse (a spritzy tart German style usually sweetened with raspberry or woodruff, a bit like marzipan). It's a fascinating and refreshing beer with the sweet citrus hops working in lively tango with the acidic base character.

McLeod's Paradise Pale Ale

One of New Zealand's most popular pale ales among beer aficionados. Sweet tropical fruits - think papaya, oranges and lime - dominate the nose. There's a lovely smooth and creamy mouthfeel and a dry, lingering bitter finish. Popular and popping.

Mike's Whisky Porter (10 year Celebration Brew)

Taranaki's original brewery still going strong - albeit in a new city-based bistro rather than up the coast at Urenui. This is one of their best, with lots of boozy whisky notes, vanilla and well-integrated funky character. "Bloody good", said the judges.

Macs Miss Conduct

Mac's have gradually extended their range towards more "crafty" styles in recent years. "Dry-hopped" means extra hops are added during the fermentation process for aroma. Gooseberry, lime and peach flavours make for a light and breezy drink.

Epic Armageddon IPA

Absolute legendary beer in New Zealand since its inception in 2008. Multi-award winner that set the benchmark for IPA in Aotearoa and continues to shine on. Superbly balanced and coherent. Piney, citrus hops with lingering minerality and broad bitterness.

Waikato Draught

No snobbery in this competition folks! The pride of Mooloo-land stands tall as a classic example of the New Zealand Draught style. For those outside Waikato, take a look at the "Willie" cap; based on a popular former brewery employee, William T Walter.

Funk Estate Jungle Boogie

Sadly, Mt Maunganui-based Funk Estate have gone out of business since judging but this is their legacy. With a hazy pink-orange blush, this sour beer - made with blood orange, lemon and passionfruit - sings with fruit, salt and acidity all in harmony.

Rocky Knob SnapperHead IPA

Had a cult following in its early days when it was in the vanguard of New Zealand's modern IPAs. Holds up to scrutiny many years later. Sweet malts overlaid with herbaceous and sweaty hop notes followed by assertive bitterness.

Boneface Brewing Sacred Red IPA

A tightly packaged bunch of flavours. Attractive auburn appearance, restrained toffee and caramel sweetness and hints of dried fruit up front. Super smooth on the palate and as it slides down, the sweet malts give way to citrus, woody and piney hops.

Parrotdog Colin

Named for long-time Wellington publican - and New World Awards judge - Colin Mallon and a winner of the annual Malthouse West Coast IPA Challenge in 2018. Smooth, clean, coherent hops, a little spice with a perfect bittersweet balance and dry finish.

McLeod's Autumn Marzen

Traditional Marzen is an Oktoberfest beer: made in March and consumed in autumn. It's a delicious and fulfilling cool season beer. Expect a pleasantly sweet, toasty maltiness with clean, dry finish, no real bitterness but buckets of flavour.

Duncan's Pilsner

Duncan's is the brainchild of the multi-skilled George Duncan (musician, builder, brewer). Based in Paraparaumu they produce an eclectic range of high quality beer. This classic Pilsner is all about the perfumed New Zealand hops and refreshing drinkability.

Kerer? Superb Owl Orange and Cardamom Wheat Beer

This riffs off the Belgian tradition of flavouring wheat beers with orange zest and coriander by using cardamom instead. The spice and orange are apparent but not overwhelming. It's smooth, bready, lightly spiced, zesty and laden with flavour.

Tuatara Conviction Belgian Tripel

Tuatara have been a stalwart of New Zealand brewing for 15 years and this beer has been a brewery stalwart - and is tasting better than ever. Wonderful spicy aromatics, creamy body, dry peppery finish. It's a complex and rewarding drinking experience.

8 Wired Cucumber Hippy

This has moved beyond a cult following after starring in this competition a couple of years ago. Cucumber is perfectly integrated with a light sourness to create a spritzy refreshing beer. Great looking beer with clean acidity and great drinkability.

Scoundrels and Rogues "Cold Shoulder" 2019 Ice cider

Scoundrels and Rogues are based in North Canterbury wine country and this is a great "dessert wine". Intense honeysuckle and apricot aroma. Complex toffee and spice flavours. Oily and intense, full upfront sweetness followed by long tannic finish.

Behemoth Freedom APA

A Top 30 beer from last year's competition that just missed out on a repeat performance. Super juicy mouthfeel and lots of passionfruit and mandarin hop character layered over pine in this resinous flavour bomb that explodes in a shower of hop oils.

The Theoretical Brewer Enigma

The Theoretical Brewer is the Taranaki brainchild of chemical engineer Douglas Eng. It's grown from a tiny operation and the beers are fast gaining a strong following. This American-style brown ale is a splendid blend of nutty caramel and fruity hops.

Townshend Blitzgreig IPA

Yes, the name is spelled right - "Greig" refers to Greig McGill of Brewaucracy in Hamilton as this started as a collaboration he did with Motueka-based Townshend. A wonderfully complex and giving IPA with a perfumed hop character on biscuity malt base.

Behemoth Lid Ripper Hazy IPA

The OG of hazy IPA in NZ and probably this country's most awarded hazy IPA, having starred in this competition previously. Incredibly well structured, loads of citrus and stone fruit, easy drinking with a delicate mouth-weight. And a great rip-top lid.

Panhead Quickchange XPA

XPA stands for Extra Pale Ale, with the emphasis on the first two words. The result is a bright and clean easy-drinker at just 4.6 percent. Where the malt is light, the hops oils abound. There's lovely notes of mango, guava, lychee and pineapple.

Brew Moon Dark Side of the Moon Stout

Based in Amberley, North Canterbury, this family-run business was started by Kieran McCauley and Belinda Gould. Chocolate, caramel and gentle coffee notes - almost a Toffee Pop biscuit character. A little cherry tartness balances out the sweet notes

8 Wired Wild Feijoa

It takes a long time for this annual "vintage" release to come to fruition with the beer aged for up to three years in barrels with feijoas. Intense feijoa, intense, mouth-watering acidity - heaps of character and not for everyone but delicious.

Steinlager Pure

Steinlager, in all its guises, regularly pops up in this competition, proving why it's a go-to beer for so many Kiwis. "Light, bright and well-structured." said the judges. Slightly smoother than traditional Steinie but with the same distinctive flavours.

Garage Project Hapi Daze

Hapii is Maori for hops and this beer has them in spades. The judges described this Garage Project staple as "lush, rich and hoppy". Full-bodied and juicy thanks to some added wheat, the malt base seamlessly couples with orange and stone fruit hoppiness.

Wigram Wee Reeky

The name is a play on the Scottish style Wee Heavy, but here there's an added smokiness - or reek. This Scotch Ale is super-rich, with ten different malts, including a strong peat-smoke character well integrated with the other sweeter malt flavours.

Epic Blue Pale Ale

Epic were the first craft brewery to go down the low carb route previously the domain of bigger breweries. The result is sensational. Forget what you think you know about low carb beer. Spritzy, light and dry with loads of pine and grapefruit hop flavour.

Macs Black

A bit of a legend in the Kiwi beer scene - it's a beer that's been around since Terry McCashin started his revolutionary craft brewery in 1981 with three beers - Original, Gold and Black. Expect great balance between chocolate malt and light hoppiness.

Urbanaut Roxbury Hazy IPA

Made with a hop blend called The Bruce - a combination of Nelson Sauvin, Motueka, Pacifica and Pacific Jade by a brewer named Bruce (Turner). Ripe tropical fruit and orange blossom. A tasty hop bomb, with low bitterness and a silky-smooth mouthfeel.

Rudi's APA

Dr Rudi's is a lively rooftop brewbar in Auckland's popular viaduct area and this is their signature beer. It's a simple looking can that belies what's inside. Expect lots of pithy grapefruit and orange zest which combine for an assertively bitter finish.

Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta Earl Grey IPA

Yeastie Boys are a global brewery now with branches in England and Australia but they originated in Wellington and this is their greatest, most original creation. Lovely floral tea aromas and some tannic notes to help balance. Gorgeous, complex, creative.

Sunshine Brewing Mexican Lager

What is Mexican lager, exactly? Think super-light body, crisp and pale. Accessible, for sure. It's not easy to do this style AND make it flavoursome. This one does. Hoppy aroma but not too much bitterness, zesty and dry. Easy drinking crowd-pleaser.

Heyday West Coast IPA

A relative newcomer to the Wellington scene based in the upper end of Cuba St. This is their first venture into (pretty pink) cans and what's inside matches the look: an aromatic beauty built on a light, dry malt base that lets perfumed hops shine bright.

Wigram The Czar

One of the first and greatest imperial stouts made in New Zealand out of this long-standing Christchurch brewery. Booming flavours here; lots of dark chocolate on dark fruits such as raisins and dates. Boozy with an edge that suggests it will age very well.

Sunshine Brewing Pale Ale

Sunshine Brewing had a breakout performance in this competition with four beers in the Top 100. All are approachable and balanced like this: bright, light medium-bodied with good length and a hoppy shine. "Sweaty intense grapefruit", said the judges.

Rodenbach Grand Cru

Flanders red ale can be traced to the Middle Ages before hops came to Belgium and acidity balanced sweetness. Rodenbach Grand Gru is regarded as the ultimate expression of the style. Cherries soaked in balsamic offset by oaky vanillins and sweet malt.

Abandoned Brewery Doof Juice XPA

Abandoned Brewery is a relatively new operation based in Lower Hutt and forged on the skills of former national home brew champion Richard Deeble. This XPA (Extra Pale Ale) is super-crisp, light and refreshing with bright hints of pineapple.

Boneface Brewing The Unit NZ IPA

This is one of the best examples of a New Zealand-style IPA that you could hope to find. Huge passionfruit and light pineapple juice flavours exemplify the beauty of Kiwi hops. "Fantastic beer, nicely balanced, very drinkable", said the judges.

The Cider Factorie Classic Apple Cider

Initially known as O Cider, the Bay of Plenty business was rebranded in 2017. Ciders are produced in an old avocado packhouse on a family farm. This has sweet summery aroma with crisp and juicy apple flavours. Judges loved the clean, fresh drinkability.

Tuatara Session IPA

The original Kapiti Coast brewery has been through some changes, including a sale to DB, but the beers remain excellent. This is lightweight on the ABV front but with lots of fresh fruit coupled with light spice in a well-balanced easy-drinker.

Garage Project Fresh vol. 3

"Certified Fresh" is a Garage Project innovation that guarantees your beer has been stored chilled until it gets to you. This version is a tweak on their regular monthly "fresh" releases. Expect mango, tangerine and apricot. "Sweet hop juice", said the judges.

Zeffer Apple Crumble Cider

It's not often you get a beverage that does exactly what it says on the tin! But this is it. Spicy apple pie flavours of cinnamon, clove and vanilla dominate. Full-bodied, rich, almost sticky, but excellently balanced with a spiced tannin finish.

Renaissance Voyager IPA

Another classic from Renaissance that's back to its best. This leans towards an English-style IPA with its earthy aromas, sweet malts and assertive late bitterness. It's coherent and tightly structured with echoes of traditional in a modern beer.

Sawmill Raspberry Sour

Sawmill are in the process of getting back on their feet after a fire ripped through their popular brewery and restaurant last year. This has lots of lovely vibrant and refreshing raspberry on a sour base that the judges praised as "very, very well-made".

8 Wired Affogato iStout

8-Wired's iStout is the base for this amped up version which adds lactose (for sweetness), vanilla and coffee to an already amazing beer. It simulates the effect of adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream to an iStout (a totally legitimate thing to do BTW).

Liberty Darkest Days

Liberty are renowned for their big hoppy beers but they do porters and stouts as well as anyone in the business. This has a deep, rich, creamy texture. Lots of coffee and chocolate on a mellow pillow of malt. Intense flavour but great drinkability.

Deep Creek Brewtiful Haze NEIPA

Deep Creek have been a regular in this competition over the years and it's easy to see why - classy beers with loads of flavour. This cleverly named beer (you know, the song by SJD?) is silky smooth with sweet, lightly bitter, orange and mango hop layers.

Mata Caribbean Queen

This Whakatane-based, family-run brewery was started by Tammy Viitakangas, who convinced her parents to join her. An underrated star of the Kiwi scene as represented by this gem of toasted coconut, vanilla and milk chocolate come-together in velvet seduction.

Epic Thunder APA

One of a number of hoppy Epic beers in the Top 100 this year, pointing to a brewery that knows its hops. This is a soft, just-sweet pale ale, full of vibrant tropical fruit flavours; lush without overpowering bitterness. Great drinkability.

Rocky Knob Patrol 8 Pilsner

Based in Mt Maunganui, Rocky Knob have been producing well-loved beers for many years. This is an easy-drinking, well-balanced pilsner in a European style. "Subtle spicy hops, good mineral bitterness and good drinkability", - said the judges.

Lakeman Brewing Co. Big Hairy APA

This Taupo farm-based brewery with the distinctive logo uses its own bore water to brew equally distinctive beers. This is one of their best. Expect sweet and juicy malt upfront with a big sack-load of hoppy bitterness crashing in late.

Te Aro Brewing Company Flanders Red Ale

Flanders Red Ale "acidic and funky" is a difficult style to make well but this is a fine example. Lightly sour and vinous with underlying dates and brown sugar sweetness. "Complex acidity, well-crafted and very drinkable", the judges said.

Sapporo Lager

Popular Japanese style lager. Brewed to be bright, light, crisp and refreshing. But there's more to this than you might expect. A little herbal, spicy hop character and a slight minerality add to the already dry finish to create a great thirst-quencher.

Garage Project Fugazi

New Zealand is blessed with a number of brilliant low alcohol beers and this is one of the best in the category. For a 2.2 percent beer, it is an absolute stunner. Hop aromas dominate front and back with loads of flavour despite the flyweight body.

Behemoth Impeachment Sour Ale

The sibling beer to the globally famous Dump The Trump IPA. This politically-charged sour ale is made with golden peaches. Super hazy with a strong peach aroma and flavour that's complemented and offset by a good level of acidity.

North End Fieldway APA

North End are based at Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast, where Fieldway is a local surf break. They produce a range of classical beers with depth and character. Here APA stands for Aotearoa Pale Ale. Zesty orange marmalade on a solid caramel malt backbone.

Renaissance Stonecutter Scotch Ale

All of the Renaissance beers that starred in this competition are legendary in the Kiwi scene, but none more so than this Scotch Ale. Just-burnt toffee, dried fruits, a smokiness that builds over time, some alcohol heat. "Satisfying full-bodied sipper".