Home to some of the best wines in the world and its distinctive Kiwi cuisine, New Zealand is making its mark in yet another field of Filipino delight beer.
More than 50 boutique micro-breweries have sprung up in almost every region of New Zealand. Today, more than 250 beers have been brewed and many have won international awards. Steinlager, Speight’s and Tui may be household names to those around the globe; but evidently, the country’s beer scene is a lot more than meets the eye.
New Zealand’s love affair with the brew dates back centuries and the Filipino beer lover’s passion dictates that he or she must journey to the country to get a taste.
In the late 18th century, Captain James Cook, considered the first European to chart the islands of New Zealand, brewed the country’s first beer.
Convinced that beer was essential for the health of his crew, Cook mixed leaves from native trees with tea to produce a type of spruce beer. Pinoys enraptured by this tale can visit The Mussel Inn at Onekaka where the story gained a modern twist by way of an all malt beer, aptly called ‘Captain Cooker’.
New Zealand beer is potent, loaded not only with rich flavour, but culture as well.
Travellers can stop by Speight Brewery in Dunedin of the South Island; a local icon that has been serving popular brews like the ‘Pride of the South’ since 1876. While on the other side of the Southern Alps, The Monteith’s Brewery is another attractive destination for the traditions it has been brewing since the gold rush times.
The North has its own set of beauts as well. Tui Brewery, for instance, was established on the banks of the Mangatainoka River after its founder Henry Wagstaff reportedly discovered the finest water he’d ever tasted.
For the Pinoy, the words “beer” and “festival” are sure to ring some bells.
The Nelson region boasts more craft breweries per head of population than any part of the country. Also located in this brewery hot spot is the craft and music festival Marchfest, adding to the festivities with stalls selling tasty NZ treats like freshly caught scallops and fine local wines.
The Marlborough town of Blenheim hosts their summer event, Blues, Brews & BBQs festival, each February. Auckland also holds its own with The New Zealand Beer Festival – a stunning beer garden experience on the city waterfront dispensing the finest brews from 30 breweries.
Last but not the least is Beervana – NZ’s largest beer festival – which is held each August in Wellington. It runs in conjunction with the BrewNZ Beer Awards, a competition that drew over 460 entries in 2012.
Thirsting for an adventure? The Pinoy beer connoisseur who wants an overview of all this abundance can take a dedicated beer tour and sample these boutique brews with local operators like Wild About Wellington.