Local brews proving a liquid asset

THE RECESSION may be slowing the rise of the premium boutique breweries, but it hasn’t killed growth in the most vibrant part of the beer market.

New Zealand boasts an increasingly sophisticated range of beers and beer styles from a booming number of smaller so-called micro-breweries dotted around the country, more than half founded since 2000 by enthusiasts aiming to do for beer what Kiwi vintners have done for wine.

But it is not just English or even European beer styles that we are making our own. The brightest hope for a truly New Zealand beer is an American-style Pale Ale made unique by New Zealand hops, which have a stronger floral character than overseas hops after decades of careful husbandry. “They are much more floral and aromatic. You can liken it to the New Zealand wine industry and the New Zealand sauvignon blanc flavours,” said Bungard.

Perhaps the king of those is Epic, from the Auckland-based Epic Brewing Company, the supreme champion in last year’s New Zealand beer awards.

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