Wellington has long been known as the Craft Beer Capital - and for good reason too, each year topping its own benchmark. But quietly brewing in the background Auckland's craft beer industry has been growing too.

Wellington is paving the way when it comes to craft beer flavour and trends while many breweries around the country are flocking to Auckland to open up shop to meet the growing demand.

Black Dog Brewery Manager Adrian Klemp agrees that Wellington is paving the way.

"The Wellington Market are open to trying new things. It's a great market to test out beers and products to see whether or not they're going to fly in the rest of the country"


Black dog is one of Wellington's top craft beer brewers. Klemp says craft beer in Wellington is constantly growing and evolving.

He believes its the companies unique combination of brewers under one roof is what sets them apart.

"You get a different and far better range of beers and they don't end up tasting one-dimensional."

Michael Donaldson, who's the chair of judges at the New World Beer and Cider Awards, told NZH Focus that Wellington is still a bit of a driving force behind what's hot and what's not but says there's no denying the market is now in Auckland.

But while the beer scene in Auckland and Wellington take off, Donaldson says businesses in the South Island are struggling to stay afloat.

"A lot of the breweries here are Auckland-based and a lot of the consumption is in Auckland and that's why we see some breweries in the South Island struggle because you have to get it out of the South Island," he says.

"Recently we've seen Yeastie Boys, which is a big brand, transfer out of brewing in Invercargill to brewing in Auckland to save on those costs.

And we've just seen Garage Project, the darlings of the Wellington scene, open a tap room in Kingsland in Auckland," says Donaldson.


Donaldson says the competition isn't just heating up between breweries but on supermarket shelves as well.

"It's a really competitive space to get into. There's 200 breweries ... just look on the shelves behind us, there's not 200 here. So the fight is to get on these shelves," he says.

"And I mean we've just had the New World Beer and Cider Awards and the people who win gold medals in that get a privileged space on these shelves."

As for trends, Donaldson says sour beers are on the rise - and there appears to be a kinds of organic movement.

"People are now making beers that are deliberately hazy, cloudy ... we're talking IPAs and pale ales here ... almost murky looking. Because they're not being filtered, they're not being what we call fined, some of the hop tannins and proteins and what have you, are being left in the beer and it's quite an organic product."

He says people are really flocking to those beers even though they're causing a bit of controversy.