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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. 
Sawmill Hazy IPA

Matakana-based Sawmill are regulars in this event, producing consistently high-quality beers across a range of styles. The judges praised the technical excellence of this "Fresh, clean, tightly-balanced, well-made, drinkable and great-tasting beer." Say no more.

Canyon Brewing Feijoa Sour

Canyon Brewing are a Queenstown business based out of a family farm where they grow their own barley. This delivers a lovely burst of feijoa with vanilla balancing the acidity. "Good level of sour and nicely integrated use of fruits," said the judges.

State of Play Nectaron Unfiltered Pale Ale

State of Play are New Zealand's only specialist non-alcoholic brew brand, with founder Grant Caunter a former beer exec with Heineken until he gave up alcohol. This showcases the exciting hop, Nectaron, and is an "orange and soda" hit of guilt-free beer.

Morningcider Hot Cross Bun Cider

Easter may have been and gone but there's no reason hot cross bun spices should be reserved for just one time of the year. The judges loved the "attractive level of cinnamon, delicious rhubarb-like characters and length of flavour" in this festive cider.

Emerson's Reverb NZ IPA

Emerson's founder Richard Emerson is a dedicated fan of music's "Dunedin Sound" and celebrated the brewery's 30th birthday in 2022 with the release of this music-inspired beer. Intense pine, citrus flavour. Mouth coating oiliness.

Emerson's London Porter

An absolute legend in Kiwi beer history, London Porter was the beer that launched Emerson's brewery 31 years ago and it's still going strong today. "AMAZING aroma," said the judges. "Fruit and nut milk chocolate aroma, creamy & full mouthfeel, smooth."

Emerson's Old 95 English Old Ale

Another classic from Emerson's - Old 95 is an Old Ale, which means a sweet beer designed for aging. There's toffee and caramel, hints of sultanas and orange hoppy notes with bitterness hiding in the background and slowly coming through. To be savoured.

Boneface Voodoo XPA

Boneface Brewing are based in Brewtown, Upper Hutt. Voodoo XPA is a great session beer at 4.6% ABV but with flavour that punches above its weight with a beautiful grapefruit aroma, a fruity palate and clean, pleasing bitterness.

North End The Lash

North End, based in Waikanae love to play with classic styles and this is their take on Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. And they nailed it said the judges: "Great looking beer. Aroma is of leather and tobacco. Sweet coffee flavour, dark roast, dry finish."

Heyday Dynasty Yuzu Citrus Sour

Heyday are a brewery on the rise and it will be no surprise to see them feature in the Top 30 at some stage in the future. They make great beers and their brewpub in Cuba Street, Wellington, is worth a visit. This is citrus, sherbet, lush and tart.

Heyday Wulfenite APA

Wulfenite is an American pale ale that hits all the right notes for the style. From the rich amber colour and crystal-clear presentation through to orange peel hoppiness that carries through to a restrained but pleasantly bitter finish. "Nice beer."

1st Night Peach Bellini

East Cape-based Mead A'mour make a range of meads and Manuka honey-infused beverages. Their 1st Night Peach Bellini is made with sparkling wine, peach and their own Manuka honey. The judges said described it as "rich and mouth-filling".

McLeod's Pioneer Porter

McLeod's Pioneer Porter is a regular in this competition, always hitting the mark in the winter months. With milk chocolate, coffee beans, plum and berry notes and a gentle roasty bitterness this beer has great length of flavour said the judges.

Heyday Equilibrio Negroni IPA

Heyday share their Cuba Street brew space with Southward's Distilling and this IPA features a Southward's house-made tincture of juniper, orange & liquorice, which present nicely on a very good IPA base. "All in all, very good. A cool beer," the judges said.

Badass Beverages Sloth Anytime Ale

Kolsch is the beer of Cologne, Germany: a golden ale that's been given a long lager-like conditioning time to create a super-smooth, quaffable, refreshing beer. This is clean and tasty with a great mouthfeel and very well-made.

Badass Beverages Disko Inferno

Badass Beverages is a small start-up that specialises in well-made classic European styles. This is a German-style Schwarzbier, or dark lager. Expect chocolate, some roasted coffee and a gentle bitterness on an incredibly light base, winter refreshment.

Mac's Hop Rocker Pilsner

Mac's Hop Rocker has a strong legacy, being almost 20 years old and with a bounty of medals to its name, so it's great to see it pop up in this event. "Great beer," said the judges, praising the balance of sweet malt and enjoyable, lingering bitterness.

Mount Brewing Co Mountie Pilsner

Mount Brewing's Mountie Pilsner is a classic New Zealand-hopped beer that offers summery citrus zest and a lick of lychee. The judges were impressed with the bready, nutty grain of the malt, the clean bitterness and crisp finish. "Well-made beer."

Steinlager Ultra Low Carb

One of two iterations of Steinlager in the Top 100 with Pure in the Top 30. This is a great low carb beer, said the judges: "Looks great. Dry Riesling aroma with malty breadiness. Dry palate without bitterness and no watery characters, great balance."

Mount Brewing Co Dark and Stormy

Dark and Stormy cider from Mount Brewing is a former Top 30 winner in this competition and is always popular, with the judges loving the spiced rum character. "Very moreish drink. Delicious and generous. Excellent spice profile. Very enjoyable."

Emporium Brewing Half Mast

Emporium Brewing founder Paul Finney hails from England and this beer is a tribute to the classic English Burton Ale, the precursor to modern pale ales. A complex fruity, biscuity brew, with a cleansing bitterness and a lingering toasty flavour.

Emporium Brewing White Caps

Emporium's White Caps is a New Zealand-style IPA with a wonderful sweet tropicality to the aroma and flavour, and the judges applauded the way the hops entwined with the malt to create a rich but balanced beer with great drinkability.

Rhyme X Reason Happy Pils

Wanaka's Rhyme X Reason Happy Pils is brewed in the classic Czech style and the judges were raving about it: "Yum! Juicy hop oils well integrated into maltiness. Great bready body and sweetness balancing the bitterness. Great drinkability."

Duncan's Passionfruit & Lime Ripple Ice Cream Sour

Duncan's Brewing in Paraparaumu on the Kapiti Coast are the country's leading exponent of ice cream sours, beers made with lactose, vanilla and fruit. This is gem in their "ripple" series with loads of fresh lime and passionfruit on a lightly creamy base.

Duncan's x Mr Whippy Choc Top Ice Cream Pastry Stout

Another Duncan's Brewing trademark "dessert" beer, this one a collaboration with iconic Mr Whippy to create a chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream beer. Cocoa husk, cacao nibs cocoa powder, and vanilla create a "luscious" chocolate experience.

Fortune Favours The Optimist Hazy Pale Ale

Wellington's Fortune Favours are based out of a brewpub in popular Leeds Street. There's a trick to the Optimist Hazy Pale Ale, as it's been dosed with a tropical fruit extract to punch up the flavour. "Powerful Just Juice aroma," said the judges.

Scrumpy Cider with Ginger

A ginger take on the popular Scrumpy Cider, this drinks incredibly well. "Fresh, clean and inviting," wrote the judges. "Good warmth from ginger, gentle sweetness with an inviting warmth."

Sunshine Pipeline Pilsner

Sunshine Brewing in Gisborne are regulars in this competition and this beer was praised for its "brilliant clarity and pretty pale golden hue". Punchy lime and diesel hop character is superbly integrated with malt. "Excellent," said the judges.

Sunshine Mexican Lager

A Mexican lager is generally brewed with corn or maize, reflecting the crops grown in Mexico. That helps creates a lighter body than usual in a lager. This is a hoppy version, and the judges loved the fruity hop notes against the light biscuity malt.

Bach SLO POUR Bohemian Pilsner

The idea of calling this Slo Pour was Bach founder Craig Cooper's way of trying to educate drinkers about the correct way to pour a pilsner (best google it). Regardless of the pour, it's delicious - full bodied, creamy, with a resinous cleansing finish.

Bach VELVET MARLEY Chocolate Cherry Stout

Bach had a great competition with four in the Top 100, this is perhaps the pick of them. Described by the judges as being like a Jelly Tip ice cream: it's super-smooth & ideal for winter sipping with roasty coffee chocolate and cherry-raspberry jam notes.

Panhead Blacktop Oat Stout

Panhead are renowned for their hoppy beers but their Blacktop Oat Stout is a regular in the Top 100. It's rich and creamy and laden with all those chocolate and coffee characteristics you want in a stout. A hint of roastiness cleans up the sweetness.


Cold IPA is a growing style, means brewing an IPA as if it's a lager. So expect light body but big hoppiness. This has a distinctly orange, tangerine and grapefruit profile, with just a faint background of pine. "Lovely showcase of hop character."

Zeden 'Mast Year' Apple Cider with Berry

Zeden is the cider business of Ranga ginger beer founder Bevan Wait. "Definitely getting fresh ripe raspberries," said the judges. "Nice palate with a developed apple cider character, which melds beautifully with the berries. Lovely and moreish."

Double Vision Brewing Chillax

Double Vision had a great competition, with two Highly Commendeds along with a Top 30. This XPA is one to chill out with, the judges noting a nice "green and clean" hop profile with citrus and pine resin working nicely together on a light base.

Double Vision Brewing Red Rascal

Red Rascal is a Red IPA and that means looking for a balance between caramel malts and piney hops, and the judges reckoned it was spot on. "Nice malty palate with well-integrated hops. Nice piney character. Well balanced and very drinkable Red IPA."

Otago Brew School Hidden Number NZ Pale Ale

Otago Brew School appeared in the Top 30 for the first time with a German-style beer, and here they've nailed the New Zealand pale ale style. "Great showcase of hop," said the judges. "Mango hop aroma carried through beautifully into flavour and finish."

Mata Golden Kiwi Cider

Whakatane-based Mata are a family-run brewery and cider maker. They've taken the local hero fruit to create a cider that sings with great intensity. The sweet kiwifruit is balanced by crisp fruit acidity. "Really interesting cider," said the judges.

Sprig + Fern The G.O.A.T Doppelbock

They call this beer The GOAT because "bock" in German translates to goat. But also we know that GOAT stands for greatest of all time. Big claim? Not when it comes to NZ Doppelbocks this is the pack leader. Deliciously toffee, nutty and spicy.

Sprig + Fern Best Bitter

Sprig + Fern sell a lot of beer in their many taverns and nothing says "pub" like a Best Bitter. This approachable all-rounder is sweetly malty with hints of chocolate and hazelnut and delivers a solid finish where the bitterness is pitched perfectly.

Funk Estate Purple Rain Blackcurrant Cider

Funk Estate is owned these days by Brandhouse, which also has Renaissance in its stable. Fans of music legend Prince will be drawn to this, as will fans of Ribena, because this sings with a burst of blackcurrant. "Well-rounded and fun," said the judges.

Baylands Petone Pale Ale

Named after the Wellington surburb where Baylands Brewing have a new taproom, this is a super-drinkable pale ale said the judges. "Really inviting. Sweet, tropical hop aroma. Bready, crackery malt but balanced with nice hop saturation. Drinks well."

Behemoth Brewing Lid Ripper Hazy IPA

Lid Ripper is a legendary Kiwi beer, being one of the first hazies to hit the market, and certainly the first to pick up a major gong, after it starred in this competition in 2018. Pillowy soft and loads of pineapple, peach and orange juiciness.

Behemoth Brewing Half Way Down Lager

Named for the classic Don McGlashan song "(Half Way Down) Dominion Road" and referencing the fact that Behemoth's brewery-taproom faces on to Auckland's longest street, this has a long, dry finish and is an excellent rendition of a Japanese lager.

Behemoth Brewing - Hop Buddies - Silent Bob and Jay

Behemoth's Hop Buddies range is a culturally-relevant way of putting different hop varieties together to see how they play. This is named for the characters from Clerks (and other films) and features Motueka and Mosaic. Citrus, pine and pineapple.

Behemoth Brewing Hay-Z

Behemoth are one of the most prolific producers of hazy IPAs in the country and amazingly keep finding clever names that riff off popular culture these beers. Hay-Z has loads to passionfruit, pineapple and pithy citrus to balance out the sweetness.

Behemoth Brewing Raging Raisin

A Belgian-style, dark, strong ale this is a super-big beer. It's got added complexity from the addition of raisins. Expect sweet caramel, dried fruit, cherry and - of course - raisins. Can be cellared for up to four years.

Southpaw Georgia Peach

Georgia Peach from Southpaw in Christchurch is an American-style wheat beer, which means it doesn't have the spicy-fruity notes of a traditional German-style. "Big fresh peach aroma, which carries through onto palate. Very good example of American Wheat."

Garage Project Bliss

Bliss takes its name from the wonderful Kiwi rock anthem by Th' Dudes. An easy-drinking lager, it's just what you want at a concert or sports event. It's light, refreshing, crisp - all you want in this style. "Very drinkable lager," the judges concluded.

Epic Pale Ale

Epic Pale Ale was the beer that started the New Zealand hop revolution in 2007. Ahead of its time back then, it's still a contender when talk comes to the best pale ales on offer. Turkish Delight, orange citrus and pine on well-integrated malt base.

Epic Hop Zombie

Hop Zombie is a benchmark beer in Aotearoa for the double IPA style, setting the standard for all those who have followed with big, bold, hoppy beers. This is a double down of pine, citrus and floral hops. Intense, textural and sweet, yet finishes dry.

Epic Joose Party

Joose Party is Epic's core range hazy IPA and it lives up to its name with lots of fresh juice balanced with some more traditional pine-citrus hop character, with complementary just-right bitterness making it super-drinkable said the judges.

Epic Hazy Zombie

Epic Brewing are the original hop kings and their Hop Zombie Double IPA, also in the Top 100, was a forerunner of the style. This is the hazy version of that beer. Silky, mango and pine, generous lush body and some warmth. "Lovely beer," said the judges.

Epic 15

Auckland's Epic Brewing turned 15 years old last year and to celebrate they made this American-style Barleywine. It's a "buy it if you see it beer". Huge pine and candy flavours with a bracing marmalade bitterness that lingers. A collector's item.

Bach ALL DAY Non-Alcoholic IPA

Bach are at the forefront of the non-alcoholic beer revolution, and this was the first craft-brewed non-alcoholic beer made here. It remains a benchmark, having made the Top 30 of this competition last year. All the aroma of a real IPA and great flavour.

Deep Creek Aquarius

Part of Deep Creek's successful Zodiac series of 2022-23, Aquarius is described as an XXXPA, which can be read as extra-extra extra pale. The judges went the extra mile with use of fruit to describe this one: "Juicy fruit and fruit salad," read the notes.

Eddyline EddyLite Session Pale Ale

One of the best 2.5% ABV beers available in New Zealand. Eddylite delivers a great hoppy aroma with flavours of peach and mango backed by lightl biscuity malt flavours. The judges appreciated the balanced bitterness on such a light beer.

Garage Project Treehugger

Treehugger is Garage Project's "sustainability beer" made to have minimal impact on the environment with simple packaging and energy-saving techniques applied to the brewing process. Tastes great and $1 from each six-pack sold goes to planting trees.

Eddyline GorgeJuice Hazy IPA

Nelson's Eddyline have taken their flagship Crank Yanker IPA and cranked up the volume by boosting the hops and making it hazy. The result is tropical and orange juice notes on a lush palate that finishes surprisingly dry, which boosts its drinkability.

Three Sisters Brewery Oakura Blonde

Oakura Blonde is Three Sisters " flagship beer" they started in the surfside town of Oakura and the beer is made with water drawn from the town's aquifer. This is a simple beer done superbly well, with honey-bready malt nicely offset by floral hops.

Three Sisters Brewery Rain in the Face

In many ways Rain in the Face APA was the beer that got Three Sisters started when then amateur brewer Joe Emans won a local home brew competition with it in 2015. The judges lauded the intense hop character and matching malt balance.

Three Sisters Brewery Friday Night

Three Sisters in New Plymouth had a fantastic competition with a Top 30 & three Highly Commended. Friday Night Pale Ale was made to promote a new book by Hawera artist Peter Lambert, and the label is from his painting Friday Night. Good tropical intensity.

Liberty Prohibition Porter

Liberty Brewing's Prohibition Porter is an annual release that has beer geeks salivating every year. Aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels it's a rich chocolate-coffee-vanilla flavour interlaced with fruit and balanced with tannins and alcohol heat.

The Island Crisp Apple Cider

The Island is a brewpub in Papamoa making great strides on the back of a Top 100 place in last year's event. The judges loved this modern cider: "Very clean, well-balanced, easy-drinking, full-bodied, with good crisp dryness on the finish. Lovely."

Jones Road Apple Cider 2021

Jones Road are based in Matakana, north of Auckland and will be familiar to anyone who has biked the Omaha-Matakana cycle trail. The judges enjoyed a complex dry cider with "a hint of lemon zestiness, a dry with a nice tannic nuttiness on the finish."

Bootleg Trunk Imperial Stout

Bootleg had a great competition with two beers in the Top 30 and this imperial stout was Highly Commended. The judges loved the look of it and picked up sultanas, prunes, apricots and chocolate milk complemented by a mouth-coating silkiness.

8 Wired Wild Feijoa

A legendary beer in New Zealand. Every year, hundreds of kilos of feijoas are added to a barrel-aged beer that's then rested for another year before being released as a vintage beer. Punchy feijoa, tart, invigorating and everyone should try it once.

8 Wired Cucumber Hippy

This cucumber-infused sour from Warkworth-based 8 Wired is something of a cult favourite among dedicated beer fans. It's refreshing and not too sour. The judges said: "Lovely fresh cucumber aroma. Fresh cucumber on the palate, great balance and finish."

Bavaria 0.0% Wit

Bavaria is a market leader in the 0.0% market. This is made in the Belgian Witbier style which means fruit & spice. "Pleasant bubblegum & chamomile aroma. Awesome texture and flavour for such a small beer. Could drink it any time. Literally! Love it."

8.6 Original

From the Swinkels Family Brewery in the Netherlands, which owns a number of brands, 8.6 Original is a strong blond lager with spicy aromatics of clove, bubblegum, marzipan and star anise. It's an unusual beer and an experience worth trying.