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Best New Zealand Dark Beers for 2024

Stouts and porters, often called dark beers, are packed with roasted flavours and richness that make them an indulgent treat.

While stouts are a very dark, often creamy ale associated with acidic coffee and chocolate flavours, porters tend to lean toward being more mellow, featuring slightly more savoury malt.

Our list for the best Kiwi stouts and porters of 2024 is small but mighty, featuring just two that are the cream of the crop. 

However you prefer your beers, the New World Beer & Cider Awards 2024 have something for you.

Browse our award-winning stouts and porters below, complete with food and beer pairings to take your at-home tasting experience to the next level.

Emerson's London Porter

Type of beer: Stout & porter

Brewery: Emerson's Brewery

Flavours: Milk chocolate, coffee

Judges’ comments: Emerson’s London Porter is an absolute legend in the Kiwi craft beer scene. There are very few small-batch beers with the longevity of this Emerson’s original. It was the beer that launched Emerson’s in 1992 and was first poured at Oamaru’s historic Criterion Hotel. And 32 years later it’s still one of the best beers in the country based on its performance at these awards. Porter is one of the oldest beer styles in the world, and for good reason — it has all the elements you need in a beer: malt sweetness, a little bit hoppy, creamy texture, excellent palate weight without being heavy and some drying bitterness. Expect coffee and chocolate some earthy, mellow hop character.

Pairing Recommendation: A classic London Porter loves a good pork pie.

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Emerson's Mexicoco Chocolate Chili Porter

Type of beer: Porter

Brewery: Emerson's Brewery

Flavours: Chocolate, cinnamon hint of chili

Judges’ comments: A beer to warm your heart as the weather starts to cool,: a chocolate and chilli-spiced porter with an ABV of 9.3%. Brewed with roasted cacao nibs, red chillies, vanilla, and cinnamon it’s designed as the beer equivalent of a spiced hot chocolate and it hits all its marks with aplomb. The chocolate dominates the flavour initially before some light spice and heat creep in while the vanilla adds a sense of sweetness. It’s complex but coherent and a wonderful drinking experience. “Nice example of intensity not running away,” the judges noted. “Well-balanced with bitterness and spice. A big, intense, flavoured beer, well-integrated and well-balanced.”

Pairing Recommendation: The big warm spice and sweet notes make a great dessert beer paired with berry cheesecake.

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

Type of beer: Bock

Brewery: Sprig + Fern Brewing Co.

Flavours: Rich toffee, choccy biscuits

Judges’ comments: After a Top 30 in 2019, and the past two years in the Highly Commended category, Sprig & Fern’s aptly-named G.O.A.T steps up again. They call this beer G.O.A.T because “bock” in German translates to goat. But we all know what G.O.A.T really stands for: “greatest of all time”. Big claim? Not when it comes to Aotearoa-brewed doppelbocks: this is the leader of the pack. The judges were rapt with everything from its presentation to the aftertaste. “Aroma is rich biscuity malt, and some toasty notes. Flavour is malt forward but balanced, chocolate and toffee with a bittersweet flavour and finish.”

Pairing Recommendation: Rich caramel sweetness will meld nicely with porcini mushroom pasta or risotto.

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Thirsty for more top New Zealand beers?

If you’re after dark beers, lagers or more unique craft varieties, don’t forget to check out the articles linked below, or browse the Top 30 from the New World Beer & Cider Awards 2024 using our Beer Finder.

Not sure what you like? Our craft beer guide will walk you through what makes craft beer special and the different styles and flavours you can find in Aotearoa.

Related articles:

Best New Zealand craft beers for 2024

Best New Zealand IPAs and pale ales for 2024

Best New Zealand lagers and pilsners for 2024

Best New Zealand hazy ales for 2024

Best New Zealand wheat, saison and sours for 2024

Best New Zealand ciders for 2024

About the author

Michael Donaldson is one of New Zealand’s most renowned beer writers and was named Beer Writer of the Year by the Brewers Guild of New Zealand for a third time in 2018. He has been the Chair of Judges for the New World Beer & Cider Awards since 2016.

His writing appears in North & South, The New Zealand Herald, Stuff and Drinksbiz. He is also the editor of The Pursuit of Hoppiness magazine published by the Society of Beer Advocates (SOBA). He is the author of New Zealand's definitive beer history Beer Nation - the Art and Heart of Kiwi Beer as well as The Big Book of Home Brew: a Kiwi Guide and The Hopfather, the biography of Emerson's founder Richard Emerson.