The Best Beers of New Zealand

New Zealand is known for its stunning landscapes, adventurous spirit, and friendly people. But did you know that the country also has a thriving culture? New Zealanders take their beer seriously, and there is a wide variety of brews to choose from. In this article, we will explore the most popular beer in New Zealand and delve into the unique characteristics that make it so beloved by locals.

The title of the best-selling New Zealand beer brand goes to Speight's Original. Brewed by Lion Breweries, Speight's Original is a New Zealand Draught style . This beer has gained a loyal following over the years, thanks to its refreshing taste and smooth finish. It is a go-to choice for many Kiwis when they want to relax and enjoy a cold one with friends.

But Speight's Original is not the only beer that holds a special place in the hearts of New Zealanders. Another popular brand is Tui, a pale lager with an content of 4% ABV. Named after a common native bird in New Zealand, Tui has become synonymous with good times and celebration. Its light and crisp flavor make it a favorite for social gatherings and barbecues.

If you're looking for a beer with a bit more character, Lion Red might be the one for you. Lion Red has a long history, dating back to 1907 when it was first brewed as a Pale . Over the years, it has evolved into a beloved Kiwi beer, loved for its rich flavor and smooth texture. Lion Red is often the beer of choice for those who appreciate a classic and full-bodied brew.

In addition to these popular brands, New Zealand is also known for its scene. Microbreweries have been popping up all over the country, offering a wide range of unique and flavorful beers. From hoppy IPAs to rich stouts, the craft beer industry in New Zealand is thriving, attracting beer enthusiasts from around the world.

One of the unique characteristics of New Zealand beer is the focus on sessionable IPAs. Unlike their American counterparts, New Zealand IPAs tend to have a lower alcohol content, usually around 6% ABV or less. They also boast slightly lower bitterness, creating a well-balanced and approachable flavor profile. This makes them a popular choice for those who enjoy the hoppy goodness of an without feeling overwhelmed.

New Zealand's beer culture is diverse and vibrant, offering something for every beer lover. From the best-selling Speight's Original to the iconic Lion Red, there is no shortage of options to quench your thirst. Whether you prefer a classic lager or an adventurous craft brew, New Zealand has it all. So, next time you find yourself in the Land of the Long White Cloud, make sure to grab a pint and raise a glass to the wonderful world of New Zealand beer.

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What Is New Zealand's Most Popular Beer?

I have always been a fan of beer, and during my time living in New Zealand, I had the opportunity to try a variety of different brands. One thing that stood out to me was the popularity of Speight's original beer. It seemed to be everywhere, from local pubs to supermarket shelves.

Speight's original is a New Zealand Draught style lager, brewed by the lion breweries. It has a distinct flavor that is both refreshing and easy to drink. The beer itself is a golden color, with a smooth and crisp taste. It has a moderate level of bitterness, making it enjoyable for both seasoned beer drinkers and those who are new to the world of beer.

One of the reasons why Speight's original is so popular in New Zealand is its long-standing history. The brand has been around since 1876, and over the years, it has built a strong reputation for producing high-quality beers. Many Kiwis have grown up with Speight's beer and have developed a loyalty to the brand.

Additionally, Speight's original has a strong presence in the New Zealand market. It is widely available in bars, restaurants, and liquor stores across the country. The brand's visibility and accessibility contribute to its popularity among locals and tourists alike.

I remember attending a rugby game in New Zealand and noticing that Speight's original was the beer of choice for many fans. It seemed to be the go-to option for those looking to enjoy a cold beer while cheering on their favorite team. This further reinforced the beer's popularity in the country.

Another factor that sets Speight's original apart is its commitment to using local ingredients. The beer is brewed with New Zealand and , giving it a unique and authentic taste. This emphasis on local sourcing resonates with many Kiwis who appreciate supporting local businesses and products.

Speight's original holds the title of the best-selling New Zealand beer brand for a reason. Its New Zealand Draught style lager, brewed by the lion breweries, has a distinct flavor that appeals to a wide range of beer drinkers. The brand's long-standing history, strong presence in the market, and commitment to using local ingredients all contribute to its popularity. Whether you're a local or a visitor, trying a pint of Speight's original is a must-do when in New Zealand.

What Is A New Zealand Style IPA?

I've had the pleasure of trying a few New Zealand style IPAs, and I must say, they are quite delightful. These IPAs from the land of the Kiwis tend to be more sessionable compared to their American counterparts. They typically have an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 6% and under, making them a bit easier to handle if you're looking to enjoy a few pints.

One of the notable characteristics of New Zealand IPAs is their balanced nature. While they still maintain that hoppy goodness you expect from an IPA, they often have a slightly lower bitterness compared to American IPAs. This makes them more approachable for those who may not be as fond of intense bitterness but still want to enjoy the hop flavors.

The hop varieties used in New Zealand IPAs also contribute to their distinct flavor profile. Hops like Nelson Sauvin, Motueka, and Pacifica are commonly used, imparting flavors of tropical fruits, citrus, and even some vinous notes. This gives the beer a unique twist and adds to its overall appeal.

Another aspect that sets New Zealand IPAs apart is their focus on quality ingredients. New Zealand is known for its pristine sources and high-quality malt and hops. This attention to detail in sourcing ingredients translates into a well-crafted beer that showcases the best of what New Zealand has to offer.

When it comes to food pairings, New Zealand IPAs can be quite versatile. The tropical fruit notes and balanced bitterness make them a great accompaniment to spicy dishes, grilled seafood, or even a cheese platter. They can add a refreshing and complementary flavor profile to a wide range of cuisines.

New Zealand style IPAs offer a refreshing and balanced take on the IPA style. They are sessionable, well-crafted, and showcase the unique flavors of New Zealand hops. Whether you're a fan of IPAs or looking to explore new beer styles, I highly recommend giving a New Zealand IPA a try. Cheers!


New Zealand is home to a vibrant and diverse beer culture that offers something for every beer enthusiast. From the best-selling Speight's Original, a New Zealand Draught style lager, to the iconic Tui pale lager named after a native bird, and the beloved Lion Red, New Zealanders have a wide range of beer brands to choose from.

New Zealand IPAs also deserve a special mention, as they tend to be more sessionable and balanced compared to their American counterparts. With lower ABV and a slightly lower bitterness, New Zealand IPAs provide a refreshing and enjoyable beer experience.

The popularity of New Zealand beer brands reflects the nation's love for quality brews and celebrating good times with friends. Whether you prefer a classic lager, a hoppy IPA, or something in between, New Zealand has a beer for every palate. So, grab a cold one, raise your glass, and toast to the rich and diverse beer culture of New Zealand. Cheers!

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.