Beer Necessities tasting session: Dark Lager, Porter, Stout, and the variations

Discover Aotearoa's top brews, chosen by our 10 specialist beer judges.

Featured in Capital #73
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Check out our other top picks here:

Best in class 2020

Session Ale, Lager, and New Zealand Pilsner

XPA, Hazy Pale Ale, Hazy IPA, and Pale Ale

IPA, Belgian, and Scotch

There’s quite a range of dark beers, and these ones have a complexity to them that requires repeat visits. This session also includes some special variations (a smoked lager, a saison, and a hefe) to keep your taste buds on their toes.

Zeelandt Brewery
Black Monk

Pouring with a soft red hue, this dark lager style Schwarzbie had aromas of bittersweet chocolate which followed through to the flavour. It was rounded and smooth on the palate with a subtle bitter finish.

Tuatara Brewery
Midnight Sun
Baltic Porter

This is a dark beer with a deep red-brown colour. There were toast, caramel, and red berry on the aroma and it had a surprisingly juicy mouthfeel without being overly sweet.

Renaissance Brewery
Elemental Porter

This beer has been tasting damn fine on tap lately. It pours dark ruby and has roasty, coffee characters on the aroma that follow through in the flavour, combined with some dark berries.

Sunshine Brewery
Port Barrel Imperial Stout
Barrel-aged Imperial Stout

This is a deep black beer with vinous, barrel characters with raisins, toffee, and chocolate. It has a boozy chocolate and jam flavour with hints of vanilla sneaking in.

Sunshine Brewery
Milk Stout

Pours classic black with a rich tan head, this beer had roasty coffee and chocolate aromas that followed through into the flavour profile. It was smooth, creamy, and beautifully balanced.

Emerson’s Brewery
Phantom Lord

A deep black beer with a thick, creamy head. This stout was roasty with hints of liquorice and molasses. It was rounded with a dark chocolate flavour and bitterness on the finish.

Te Aro Brewery
Dubh X
Oatmeal Stout

This beer had a hint of roast, and characters that included liquorice, dark chocolate, and bananas on the aroma and in the flavour. There was a dry, roasty bitterness on the finish.

Three Sisters Brewery
Hot Rod
Manuka Smoked Lager

Visually delightful with a peachy, amber colour, and the aroma was manuka smoke, resinous, and woody. It was rounded on the palate with balanced smoky bacon and maple flavours.

Zeelandt Brewery
Worker’s Unite

This beer pours with a white, pillowy head, and has the spicy aromas you’d expect of the style. The flavour notes include banana and cloves. It’s spritzy and finishes dry.

Tuatara Brewery

New Zealand’s most awarded Hefe always rates a mention. The beer poured with a slight haze and golden in colour. It had orange and banana-like aromas and flavours, and slightly soapy finish.


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