Friday, 29 January 2010

BEER O’CLOCK: The very best beers of 2009

Direct from The Wellingtonian and the Real Beer blog (well, as direct as I could make it considering it was written on the eve of New Year’s Eve when I was, um, a bit busy--as I’m sure you were too, dear readers) beer correspondent Neil Miller adjudicates magisterially on the best local beers of 2009.  I can’t say I have any complaints about his judgement. [Photo by Kyle Carter]

The Very Best Beers of 2009
    December is the time that columnists reflect on the preceding year and make the traditional spurious “best of” lists. This column is no exception. Here then are my ten best beers of 2009 with last year’s rankings shown in brackets. The list clearly reflects my taste for big hoppy beers but, while they may be hard to find, every beer is well worth trying.

10. Croucher Pale Ale (7) – This is the flagship beer from Paul Croucher’s craft brewery in Rotorua, the Aromatic Capital of New Zealand. It remains a boisterous, flavoursome pale ale with plenty of character and charm.

9. Tuatara Pilsner (NEW) – From the beer-making superstars in Reikorangi, this Pilsner blends the classic Czech style with top-quality local ingredients. The end result is a crisp, dry, approachable lager which can convert people to craft beer.

8. Invercargill Pitch Black (10) – From the country’s southernmost brewery, Pitch Black proves that beers do not need to be strong to have flavour. It showcases a wonderful balance of chocolate and coffee notes before a clean finish.

7. Yeastie Boys His Majesty (NEW) – Newcomers the Yeastie Boys have stormed onto the brewing scene in 2009. His Majesty is a bold and cleverly-made India Pale Ale with bursts of citrus notes before an insidiously refreshing bitterness.

6. Three Boys Oyster Stout (NEW) – A modern recreation of a Victorian recipe, the use of real Bluff Oysters helps create a silky, sweet, decadent stout. It should not work but it really does.

5. Three Boys Golden Ale (NEW) – This seasonal release had never registered on my beer radar before. This year, a few brewing tweaks have produced a zesty, quenching summer delight.

4. Emerson’s Pilsner (2) – Now the only organic beer from New Zealand’s champion brewery, this New World Pilsner is a balance of fruity hops and cleansing bitterness. It is the standard by which others are measured.

EpicArmageddon3. Epic Pale Ale (1) – A rare combination of full-flavour with drinkability, this is rapidly becoming a Wellington beer fixture. The brewer loves his hops and it is evident in every glass.

2. 8 Wired Hopwired IPA (NEW) – One of the first brews from a new Blenheim brewery, this is my new beer of the year. It has a billowing hop aroma, big passion fruit and citrus flavours, late bitterness and subtle power.

1. Epic Armageddon (3) – Easily one of the most highly hopped beers ever made in New Zealand, this huge beer showcases massive orange and grapefruit notes, a solid malt backbone and lingering bitterness. It should be enjoyed as if it was the last beer on earth.


  1. ummm, Honourable mention for last years monteiths radler batch. probably the first and last time i'll enjoy it.

  2. All excellent beers.

    I just enjoyed a La Trappe Dubbel, it was excellent and my only regret is that I did not buy a second four-pack. :-)

  3. The Emersons Pilsner is certainly my pick - Extremely good beer.


  4. Sean Fitzpatrick30 Jan 2010, 08:00:00

    I would agree the Emersons Pils is the pick of the bunch with that particular style of beer. Big ups to Armageddon for sure - not a beer I would drink every night of the week but one I seriously enjoy from time to time.

    Honorable mention should go to Tuatara's Bavarian Hefe, a lovely little beer just right for a warm summer evening.

  5. The Invercargill Brewery makes an ale called Stanley Green, which in my opinion is a finer tipple to the one featured in the top ten. Served at room temperature, we are able to buy it on tap direct from the barrel at Buster Crabbes here in Invercargill, should any of you be passing this way. ;-)

  6. This isn't related to anything you've posted here but I thought it might interest you

    It's a charity organisation with a difference.

    "Kiva is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to unique entrepreneurs around the globe."

    I've only just heard about the site myself, but a friend of mine has lent money and received it back again (which she promptly loans out again).

  7. Shane - I love Stanley Green also. It's just come so far from when it was first brewed. All Steve's beers have. The man is a god. That said, Pitch Black may well be the best stout in the country, whereas there are better (or equally good) pale ales. I guess that's why it's on the list.

    On the subject of brewers who have seriously improved, try Townshend's beers next time you get a chance. Martin Townshend is possibly one of NZ's most underrated and unknown brewers, but the man knows beer. He makes the most authentic English style ales you'll get this side of Galbraiths. :)


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