Two Epic Weeks in Brew Zealand – Part I: The Beer Industry
on 07/05/13 at 9:48 amBeer
When most people think of New Zealand the epic landscapes come to mind – breathtaking fiords, picturesque bays, enchanting glaciers, dense forests, thermal wonders, and mythical beaches. When beer geeks think of New Zealand epic hops likely come to mind – Nelson Sauvin, Motueka, Riwaka, Pacifica, Hallertau and Pacific Jade. Sierra Nevada’s Southern Hemisphere Harvest Ale and Drake’s Aroma Prieta are excellent examples of US breweries using New Zealand hops to produce exceptionally delicious brews. In addition, New Zealand beer has started showing up on store shelves more prominently in my area (San Francisco), notably 8 Wired, Epic, and Moa. While I had limited exposure to New Zealand beer prior to embarking on my adventure, what I discovered was an emerging industry full of unique and interesting brewers, breweries, beer, hops, and consumers.
New Zealand is home to approximately 50 or so breweries producing a range in styles, with the most common style being lagers in the range of 4-5% ABV. According to market research performed by The Brewers Guild of New Zealand, craft brewing is a major trend with the number of small craft breweries (defined as less than 40,000 litres per annum) doubling from 15 to 30 over the 4 year period. The Brewers Guild of New Zealand also discovered there is an increasing trend to export beer. Of the breweries surveyed, 42% were exporting their beer and 32% had plans to begin exporting within the next 2 years. The results of the market research demonstrate the changing beer industry.
Ralph Bungard of Three Boys Brewery and President of The Brewers Guild of New Zealand sums up the beer industry in New Zealand best: ”Certainly the increased number of small brewers and the volume of the beer that they are producing suggest that the public are changing their drinking habits. There is an explosion of beer flavours and styles available to consumers, and that means more of the public are finding a beer that suits their taste and lifestyle. It is very encouraging to see the growth and diversification in the industry and it is a good sign that most brewers consider that they will grow in size and look to be exporting in the next year. These are exciting times for brewers and consumers.”