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Best New Zealand Sour for 2024

For something a little bit out there, why not try a New Zealand sour? Often brewed using fruit yeast, sour beers boast bold acidic flavours and are often inspired by massive fruit aromas like peach, passionfruit or citrus.

There’s a booming trend in the beer world to create styles that are best defined as acidic, tart or sour and some of our New Zealand breweries are doing it best. The complexity and refreshing nature of these beers can be truly mind-bending.

We’ve included three of the best of the best Kiwi wheat and sour brews on our list for 2024.

Keep scrolling to discover the best of the best New Zealand-made wheat and sour beers for 2024 plus our favourite food pairings for each beer.

8 Wired Desperate Glory - Oud Bruin

Type of beer: Barrel-aged & wood-aged

Brewery: 8 Wired Brewing

Flavours: Complex, tart-sweet: cherry, cocoa, vanilla

Judges’ comments: "Warkworth-based brewery 8 Wired has produced the champion beer of 2024. Desperate Glory, a Belgian Amber Ale is a sublime creation made in collaboration with Small Gods, who specialise in old-world beer styles. Rich in dates, brown sugar and spice, it’s aged for a year in oak bourbon barrels to bring out vanilla notes, a little tartness and a cherry like aroma. An infusion of Chinese Keemun tea adds a light floral character with hints of tobacco and cocoa. The result is a remarkable beer with some wine-like qualities, and as such will pair beautifully with food. It’s surprisingly light on the palate, but there’s a depth of flavour and complexity that will keep bringing you back for more."

Pairing Recommendation: Wine-like complex beer goes well with rich, hearty slow-cooked beef cheek stew.

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Garage Project Pickle Beer

Type of beer: Sour beer

Brewery: Garage Project - Aro St brewery

Flavours: As it says: dill pickles!

Judges’ comments: If you’ve never heard of a pickle beer, let alone considered drinking one, get ready for a palate-changing, mind-blowing experience! It’s a lightly sour beer brewed with cucumbers and dill pickle spices, including dill, mustard seeds and habanero chilli (very light chilli heat). While it’s described as sour, it’s more lightly tart — like pickle juice. The aroma is unmistakably the same as you get when you open a pickle jar. The cucumber comes forward on the palate and the judges noted how the “spices shine through, giving the impression of pickle juice”. They summarised: “A very complex and well-handled blend of flavours that work well together. Very interesting beer. Well done.”

Pairing Recommendation: A pickle beer, what else but a classic American cheeseburger, with pickles.

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Mount Brewing Co Muito Bom

Type of beer: Wheat & other grain beer

Brewery: Mount Brewing Co

Flavours: Citrus, bubblegum and spice

Judges’ comments: Muito Bom translates from Portuguese as “very good” — and that’s the case here. This Mount Brewing drop, created in collaboration with Brazilian brewery ZEV (hence the name, Muito Bom) is a Belgian-style Witbier, which traditionally features orange zest and coriander seed. Here, Mount Brewing have gone in boots ‘n’ all on the additions, using lime, orange and grapefruit zest, along with ginger and coriander to create a huge depth of flavour. There’s lots of citrus balanced against sweet malts while the ginger adds a gentle heat and extra dimension. The judges described it as lovely. “Lovely slightly hazy straw colour. Gentle lemon zest aroma, with mild spicy yeast character. Soft doughy malt flavour, light body and gentle malt sweetness. Lovely beer!”

Pairing Recommendation: The tangy citrus and spice suits fish and chips or mussels in white wine.

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Three Sisters Wild One #1

Type of beer: Other ales & beers

Brewery: Three Sisters Brewery

Flavours: Lemon, clove, vanilla, spritzy

Judges’ comments: Last year Aotearoa’s only domestic yeast lab, Froth Tech, discovered a unique native yeast. Released under the name “Wilding” it produces intriguing flavours reminiscent of a Belgian farmhouse ale —spice, pepper, vanilla, and citrus. New Plymouth’s Three Sisters took that yeast and combined it with a super-citrussy hop, Citra, to create a remarkable 3.2% beer. There’s so much interesting and refreshing flavour, it should be a must-try for beer drinkers seeking something new and unusual. The judges picked up citrus hops mixed with pear and a subtle clove spice “that doesn't detract and provides complexity … Decent mouthfeel for the ABV, with some soft carbonation. Lemon pith and a hint of acid drops, with a dry finish.”

Pairing Recommendation: Refreshing citrus and spice notes go well with charcuterie board.

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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 stouts and porters for 2024

Best New Zealand ciders for 2024

Best New Zealand hazy ales 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.