Does New Zealand Have Its Own Beer Style Or Flavour?

Does New Zealand have a beer flavour or style it can call its own, or is uniquely New Zealand?

The easy answer maybe yes, any beer that uses New Zealand hops and New Zealand malt, water, yeast, made in NZ and made by New Zealanders. So is it Steinlager Pure?

Is it that simple? The idea has been on my mind since the creation of Mash Up as part of the NZ Craft Beer TV project.

We produced a collaborative brew with the input from 44 of New Zealand’s craft breweries. We ended up with a beer that we thought captured the flavour of the most popular NZ hops being used by craft brewers, NZ malt, most popular yeast strain, and the most popular style, a Pale Ale. In essence this beer was meant to show case the flavour of craft beer in NZ at the time. Maybe it did.

It’s coming up on three years since we first brewed this, but is it uniquely New Zealand?

The reason for my increased interest in this is the recent coverage of Zinzan Brooke making a New Zealand beer in the UK using NZ hops and malt.

It started with this Facebook thread about Gladfield Malt.

Then more recently this article Zinzan converts memories into nice drop

If you drank a pint of Zinzan’s beer would you be able to taste a unique New Zealandness about it?

Maybe my second shot at a NZ style beer with Epic First Batch may have also been an example of a NZ unique beer.

Is it as simple as just the hops? If 85% of New Zealand hops are exported then there are significantly more litres of beer produced outside New Zealand with our hops than locally. How unique does that hop flavour mean to NZ beers? Does it mean more overseas brewers make New Zealand style beers than in New Zealand?

What about our style? Many places in the world have their own styles?
Do we produce something well and uniquely NZ?
Consider these styles:
– German wheat beers
– Belgian Witbiers
– Czech Pilsners
– London Porter
– Irish Stout
– Lambics
– Australia Pale Ale

  • NZ Pale Ale – ? hops? water? malt?

Is this a question that is too far ahead of its time?

Do we live in a country that is too small to reach a critical mass to achieve a popular or common flavour or style that many breweries want to emulate to meet popular demand?

It will probably be the local hops that define our flavour/style as these are unique and dominating in local craft beers. Nelson Sauvin? Waimea? Pacific Jade? Southern Cross?

If I had to pick one beer from New Zealand that I believe uniquely represents our flavour and style it would be Captain Cooker from The Mussel Inn.

When this beer is fresh it is fantastically aromatic with an almost intoxicating floral perfume. The beer is also 4%abv which represents the strength of what our mainstream beer has been for generations.

What do you think?