When it comes to beer, New Zealand is known for its thriving craft beer scene, and enthusiasts from around the world have been raising their glasses to the exceptional brews that this beautiful country has to offer. In this comprehensive guide, we embark on a journey to explore the strongest beer in New Zealand. From the boldest brews to the most potent concoctions, get ready to dive into the world of high-octane beverages that Kiwi brewers have mastered.

The Craft Beer Revolution in New Zealand

New Zealand’s brewing landscape has witnessed a significant transformation over the past few decades. With the craft beer revolution in full swing, small, independent breweries have been pushing the boundaries of flavor and alcohol content. These innovative brewers have given rise to a new era of craft beer that challenges conventional norms.

Defining Beer Strength: ABV and IBU

ABV: Alcohol by Volume

Alcohol by Volume (ABV) is a crucial metric that determines the strength of a beer. It represents the percentage of alcohol in a beverage relative to the total volume. The higher the ABV, the stronger the beer. New Zealand has seen a surge in high-ABV beers, catering to those who crave robust, full-bodied flavors.

IBU: International Bitterness Units

While strength is often associated with alcohol content, bitterness plays a vital role in defining a beer’s character. International Bitterness Units (IBU) measure the bitterness imparted by hops. Some of the strongest beers in New Zealand strike a remarkable balance between high ABV and elevated IBU, creating a sensory experience like no other.

Top Breweries Leading the Charge

1. Epic Brewing Company

  • Located in Auckland, Epic Brewing Company has gained a reputation for its bold and innovative approach to brewing.
  • Their “Hop Zombie” Imperial Red Ale boasts an impressive 8.5% ABV, making it a formidable contender in the strong beer category.
Hop Zombie beer with a glass on the table

2. 8 Wired Brewing Co.

  • Hailing from Blenheim, 8 Wired Brewing Co. is known for pushing boundaries with their unique beer creations.
  • “iStout” is a standout, with a robust 10% ABV and an enticing blend of roasted malts and coffee notes.
iStout beer with a glass on the table

3. Garage Project

  • Wellington’s Garage Project is celebrated for its eclectic range of brews, often pushing the envelope in terms of both flavor and strength.
  • “Pernicious Weed” Double IPA, with a staggering 8.8% ABV, is a testament to their dedication to bold brewing.

Strong beers aren’t just about the alcohol content; they offer a world of complex flavors and aromas. Let’s dive into the unique flavor profiles of some of these potent brews.

The Dark and Decadent

Breweries like Garage Project and Panhead Custom Ales have mastered the art of crafting strong, dark ales. These beers feature rich, chocolatey malts, and hints of dark fruits, creating an indulgent drinking experience.

Hop-Forward Wonders

For hopheads, New Zealand offers a plethora of strong, hoppy ales. These beers are bursting with tropical fruit, citrus, and piney notes, balanced by a robust malt backbone.

The Allure of Limited Editions

Many of the strongest beers in New Zealand are released as limited editions or seasonal brews. These elusive gems create a sense of excitement among beer enthusiasts, who eagerly await each new release.

  • Food Pairing: A World of Possibilities: Pairing strong beers with the right food can elevate your tasting experience. From rich, smoky meats to decadent desserts, the versatility of these potent brews knows no bounds.
  • Homebrewing: Embracing the Craft: If you’re feeling inspired by the incredible brews you’ve encountered, consider trying your hand at homebrewing. New Zealand’s thriving craft beer community offers ample resources and support for aspiring brewers.


In the land of the Kiwis, the strongest beers stand as a testament to the innovation and creativity of New Zealand’s craft brewing industry. From robust stouts to hoppy IPAs, these brews push the boundaries of flavor and strength, delighting beer enthusiasts around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find the strongest beers in New Zealand?

You can find these potent brews at specialty liquor stores, craft breweries, and select bars and restaurants across New Zealand.

Are strong beers suitable for all occasions?

Strong beers are often savored on special occasions or as a treat for dedicated beer enthusiasts due to their higher alcohol content and robust flavors.

Can I age strong beers like I do with wine?

Yes, some strong beers, especially those with complex flavor profiles, can benefit from aging. Be sure to store them properly in a cool, dark place.

Are there any annual beer festivals in New Zealand?

Yes, New Zealand hosts several beer festivals throughout the year, where you can sample a wide range of brews, including some of the strongest beers.

What’s the best way to appreciate the flavors of strong beers?

To fully appreciate the flavors of strong beers, use a tulip-shaped glass, serve at the recommended temperature, and take your time to savor each sip.