Finding hoppy gems at the best little beer festival in Auckland



Topics covered in this article (table of contents)

    City of Ales aka Auckland's best little beer festival is back. At a different location, but with a similar set-up: heaps of New Zealand craft beer breweries showcasing the latest additions to their beer menu. Let's see if we can find some tasty gems at this best little beer festival in Auckland.

    This year the beer festival moved to a different location, the Ponsonby Cruising Club. Easy to reach by car (but why would you?) and even easier to reach by a combination of public transport and Lime electric scooters. This meant that this year, we had views of the Auckland Harbour Bridge and on the other side the marina. Not a bad view on a sunny summer day in Auckland. The organiser didn't much decoration-wise and left the location as is. Let the beers to the talking was the motto.

    Tasting menu at City of Ales 2019

    The Society of Beer Advocates (SOBA), the organiser of the City of Ales beer festival in Auckland created the following beer tasting menu.

    Hoppy & fruity New Zealand beers

    • Kissing Cousins (NEIPA) by Alibi brewing from Auckland: “Peaches & Apricots float down a river of barley & oat juice, seasoned with expressive English yeast, jungle-sk US hops and dusted with a subtle dash of lactose”
    • Sun Sun Beer (American Brown) by New New New Corporation from Dunedin: “Dosed heavy with tropical scented hops, this bronzed malt base features naturally effervescent HOPE and/or CARE.”
    • Phase Wave (NEIPA) by Heyday Beer Co. from Wellington: “Phase Wave is the final beer in our Hazy Wave series. With the soft, billowy mouthfeel & body we love. Ekuanot, Simcoe & Citra hops, with a big splash of Centennial hop oil.”
    • Bone Dry (XPA) by Laughing Bones Brewing Co. from Auckland: “Bone Dry XPA is lighter in colour than a pale ale and very dry to allow the hop presence to be the star. This brew presents a new trial hop, Hort #4337 from New Zealand”
    • Summer in the Citra (NEIPA) by Eddyline Brewery from Nelson: “Freaking explosion of citrus! Tropical juiciness with Mandarin and lime aroma.”

    Lights in New Zealand

    • Persistent High (Hefeweizen) by Altitude Brewing from Queenstown: “This is fundamentally a traditional Bavarian wheat beer but our take, whilst being true to its origins, has our own twist with a mix of local and imported ingredients.”
    • The People's Pils (German Pilsner) by Brave Brewing Co from Hawkes Bay: “Fermented with German lager yeast, this is proper old school crushable pilsner, brewed for the people.”
    • Oude Relic (Tripel) by Craftwork Brewery from Oamaru: “A Super Saison or Saison Tripel, it tastes like a tripel, but with a more dry finish.”
    • Dry Hopped Pilsner (Pilsner) by Eagle Brewing NZ from Christchurch: “Eagle Dry Hopped Pilsner is an exciting new take on a traditional malt base, revitalised and renewed with an injection of Nelson Sauvin and Citra hops.”
    • Mandrake Mellons (American wheat) by Hopscotch from Auckland: “American wheat beer with watermelon and cucumber”
    • Blodsukker Saison (Saison) by Kainui Brew Co from Northland: “The malt base of a Belgian dark strong, fermented dry in a wine barrel with a blend of hornindal kveik and saison dupont yeast. NZ blackcurrants added post-ferment and naturally conditioned.”
    • Peachtree Street (Saison) by Outlier Cartel & Sweatshop from Auckland: “A Chardonnay barrel-aged Saison, back-sweetened with peach juice. Gentle spice flavours from the Saison yeast complements the peach.”
    • GoTo (Kölsch) by Rhyme And Reason Brewery from Wanaka: “Clean crisp ale, pilsner malt, kiwi hops. fruit salad sweetness”
    • Jackson's Session Lager (Lager) by Sawmill Brewery from Auckland: “Brewed to be light, refreshing, and subtly complex, this almost-European lager is brewed with German Pilsner malt, and lightly dry hopped with Czech Saaz and German Saphir hops.”

    Dark beers from NZ

    • Swampton Dry Stout (Dry Stout) by Brew Union Brewing Company from Palmerston-North: “A clean roasted aroma with hints of chocolate, coffee and caramel leads into a smooth dry finish. Expect notes of raisins and hints of plums at the back of the palate.”
    • Manifest Destiny (Porter) by Brewaucracy from Hamilton: “Smooth, creamy, balanced, though with fairly intense roast flavours, and a firm finishing bitterness. Andrew Jackson would say it will expand your area of freedom!”
    • Colab Celebrator (Bock) by Colab Brewing from Auckland: “Mahogany coloured with a great creamy beige head. Brewed with German heritage malt Barke, the aroma is busting with raisin, chocolate, banana & cherry with a hint of molasses and dark Malt.”
    • Nutorius F.I.G. (Foreign Extra Stout) by The Laboratory Brewery from Christchurch: “Rich and robust with coffee, chocolate, fig and hazelnut and a solid bitterness to keep you going.”
    • Coffee Vanilla Porter (Porter) by Little Owl Brewing from Hamilton: “She’s smooooth, sultry, decadent and best enjoyed with your feet up.”

    Sour craft beer

    • Flanders Brown by Concept from Christchurch:
    • Gone Troppo (Berliner Weiss) by Isthmus from Auckland
    • Cherimoya Sour (Sour) by McLeods from Northland: “A blend of barrel-aged sours, including a Brettanomyces hefeweizen and a chardonnay barrel-aged hibiscus sour, conditioned on Northland Cherimoyas.”

    Low alcohol NZ beer

    • Undies (Session IPA) by Rocky Knob from Bay of Plenty: “Big on Hops small on Booze. Its a big beer hiding in those undies. Togs Togs Togs Undies Undies Undies!”

    Favourites at the best little beer festival in Auckland

    You probably noticed the bold font on some of the craft beer names listed above. You got it right, my favourites of the day. But in which order? Here we go…

    1. Peachtree Street Saison (4.25 out of 5)
    2. Oude Relic Tripel (4.25 out of 5)
    3. Colab Celebrator Bock (3.75 out of 5)
    4. Dry Hopped Pilsner (3.50 out of 5)
    5. Persistent High Hefeweizen (3.25 out of 5)
    6. Blodsukker Saison (3.25 out of 5)

    See for more detailed tasting notes my profile & check-ins on Untappd. Just one remark before we wrap up this review of the City of Ales beer festival in Auckland… Being a big fan of the tasty brews Craftwork Brewery creates, I tried (and loved) the Oude Relic Tripel a few months ago already. Just couldn't resist to sneak it in this list. It's a really good one. Try it when you're going for a craft beer road trip in New Zealand.

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    He is the digital geek that started it all. First as DIY-OE, then as Travel.Geek.NZ. Dutch roots, Kiwi heart. His favourite countries to travel in can be found in Australasia, Europe & USA.

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