New Zealand’s Greatest Beers: Top-10

By Michael Donaldson on Tuesday, December 6th, 2016 in News. No Comments

Welcome to the top-10 Greatest Beers in New Zealand, the final chapter in the list of our top-50 beers. The list is built on a raft of criteria that includes: Ratings on sites including Untappd and Ratebeer; Gold medals / trophies won at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards and other competitions; The influence the beer […]


New Zealand’s 50 Greatest Beers: 20-11

By Michael Donaldson on Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 in News. No Comments

Welcome to the top-20 the list documenting what I believe are the 50 greatest beers in New Zealand. The list is built on a raft of criteria that includes: Ratings on sites including Untappd and Ratebeer; Gold medals / trophies won at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards and other competitions; The influence the beer has […]


New Zealand’s 50 Greatest Beers: 30-21

By Michael Donaldson on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016 in News. No Comments

Welcome to part three of the list documenting what I believe are the 50 greatest beers in New Zealand. The list is built on a raft of criteria that includes: Ratings on sites including Untappd and Ratebeer; Gold medals / trophies won at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards and other competitions; The influence the […]


New Zealand’s 50 Greatest Beers: 40-31

By Michael Donaldson on Tuesday, November 15th, 2016 in News. No Comments

Welcome to part two of the list documenting what I believe are the 50 greatest beers in New Zealand. The list is as built on a raft of criteria that includes: Ratings on sites including Untappd and Ratebeer; Gold medals / trophies won at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards and other competitions; The influence […]


New Zealand’s 50 Greatest Beers – Nos 50-41

By Michael Donaldson on Thursday, November 10th, 2016 in News. No Comments

In the years I’ve been writing about a beer I’ve lost count of the time people have asked me “what’s you favourite beer?”. I’ve never really been prepared to stay categorically what my favourite is; in truth it can vary from day to day or even across a night. As a beer writer and historian about […]


A big shout out

By Michael Donaldson on Monday, October 10th, 2016 in News. No Comments

Mostly in my life, I’ve not made a huge number of conscious decisions that have led to ongoing happiness. Mostly happiness happens by accident. Asking Deirdre to marry me was the biggest of those decisions and it’s been a roaring success. Earlier in life, I was determined to go to Phys Ed school in Dunedin and […]


Need Fewer Hops?

By Michael Donaldson on Thursday, September 8th, 2016 in News. No Comments

Can it be that the man who championed the phrase “need more hops” actually now wants less? For a decade, Luke Nicholas of Epic has led the hop-forward revolution in New Zealand – first with his Epic Pale Ale and then with Armageddon IPA, Hop Zombie double IPA, the One Trick Pony series, Lupulingus and […]


Hallertau Tasting

By Michael Donaldson on Thursday, September 1st, 2016 in News. No Comments

I’m hosting a tasting with a difference at Hallertau on October 20. We’ll be looking at the beers from the angle of flavours — such as bitter, malty, hoppy, smoky, roasty, tart, sour —  rather than traditional styles. It’s a great way to find out what kind of beer you prefer. It promises to be an entertaining […]


Townshends rebuilds after disaster

By Michael Donaldson on Thursday, September 1st, 2016 in News. No Comments

I have long been a huge fan of Townshend’s Brewery. One man band Martin Townshend, who is based in Upper Moutere in the rural Nelson area, has made some of my favourite easy-drinking English style beers – especially his Old House ESB – a friendly, generous drop of English-style bitter. But in the past year I’ve […]


Beervana nears nirvana

By Michael Donaldson on Monday, August 15th, 2016 in News. No Comments

Beervana 2016 is my favourite iteration of the annual festival. Festival director Beth Brash and her team did an amazing job on the oft-forgotten “less is more” cliché by streamlining the event. By that I mean cutting out seminars, workshops and distractions such as the Media Brew contest. I loved the Media Brew as a […]


Pucker up people, it’s the hour of sour

By Michael Donaldson on Friday, August 5th, 2016 in News. No Comments

If you’re setting your watch by the old expression “beer o’clock” then the hour is about to strike sour. Sour – a catch-all term which doesn’t quite capture the array of tart, salty, fruity and refreshing beers starting to mushroom up in New Zealand – is such a pejorative term I sometimes wish we could […]


Big John Harrington: I’ve got the best job in the world

By Michael Donaldson on Tuesday, July 26th, 2016 in News. No Comments

Big John Harrington reckons he’s got the best job in the world. “I call myself the chief taste tester,” says the patriarch of Christchurch’s Harrington’s Brewery, which this month celebrates its 25th birthday. John, who’s pushing 75, founded the brewery after he tried retirement at 46 and got bored. Born in Greymouth, with six brothers […]


Slow train to success

By Michael Donaldson on Tuesday, July 5th, 2016 in News. No Comments

When Richard Emerson sold his small Dunedin brewery to national giant Lion four years ago it took him well out of his comfort zone. He went from a humble brewer turning out some of New Zealand’s loved beers to a corporate-style ambassador for his brand, meeting and greeting a constant stream of new faces – […]


Now is the sour

By Michael Donaldson on Tuesday, July 5th, 2016 in News. No Comments

New Zealand’s burgeoning barrel-aged sour beer programme has taken another major step with debut of Waikanae brewer Kieran Haslett-Moore’s Salt & Wood range. Haslett-Moore also has a kettle-soured beer on the way at his Northend Brewery – about an hour north of Wellington – and as it went into the fermenter he posted to Facebook: […]


I’ve been drinking

By Michael Donaldson on Wednesday, June 15th, 2016 in News. No Comments

This is an ever-growing, regularly updated list of what I’ve been drinking lately: Three Boys Oyster Stout: First one for the season – and it was super-smooth on handpull. There was an briny edge, some tacky tarriness, and an underlying sweetness. Perfectly balanced and downed as quickly as half-dozen oysters. 8.5/10     Liberty C!tra: On tap at […]


Reactions revving over Panhead sale to Lion

By Michael Donaldson on Wednesday, June 15th, 2016 in News. No Comments

News that Panhead Custom Ales will be parking up at a new garage – joining Emersons and the long-ago purchased Mac’s – in the Japan-owned Lion stable has sparked a raft of reactions. If my thoughts could be ordered like a starting grid for the Indianapolis 500, they would be ranked in the following order: […]


Gluten-free beer back on the market

By Michael Donaldson on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 in News, Uncategorized. No Comments

Kereru Brewing’s gluten-free beer, Auro, will soon be back on shelves after a successful crowd-funding exercise. Kereru had brewed Auro twice before but lost money both times as the demand wasn’t there. This time they used a Pledge Me campaign to test the market for a third run of Auro. That too looked ready to […]


Tasting notes for New World Awards

By Michael Donaldson on Thursday, April 14th, 2016 in News. No Comments

One week in March I had the task of tasting 40 beers and ciders which won gold medals at the New World Beer & Cider Awards. Yep 40 in less than a week (and I couldn’t share them with anyone as that would have given away the results). The tasting notes are in New World brochures […]


Paul Henry Show

By Michael Donaldson on Wednesday, April 13th, 2016 in News, Uncategorized. No Comments

It was short and sweet but great fun to put in an appearance on The Paul Henry Show to talk about the New World Beer & Cider Awards http://www.newshub.co.nz/tvshows/paulhenry/wine-and-beer-awards-tickle-nzs-tastebuds-2016041312#axzz45THF83TW


New World Beer & Cider Awards

By Michael Donaldson on Monday, April 11th, 2016 in News, Uncategorized. No Comments

The New World Beer & Cider Award winners have been announced and I’m rapt with the results. There’s a great mix of established breweries and proven trophy-winning beers as well as interesting newcomers such as Sparks Brewing and Eagle Brewing. All the results can be found here http://www.newworld.co.nz/wine-and-beer/best-in-class/


Moa ruffling feathers

By Michael Donaldson on Monday, April 4th, 2016 in News. No Comments

Moa – for a brewery named after an extinct bird they manage to ruffle a lot of feathers. On the flip side, you know how the saying goes: ‘‘Any publicity …’’The latest piece of news-making concerns Moa Group chief executive Geoff Ross and director David Poole increasing their shareholdings in the NZX-listed brewery. The purchase […]


Nature’s miracle green bullet

By Michael Donaldson on Sunday, April 3rd, 2016 in News. No Comments

Around the country right now brewers are conditioning special brews that, like wine, are made just once a year. March is hop harvest time and for a very short period brewers are able to get their hands on what are known as “fresh” or “green” hops. These are hops in their soft pillowy state before […]


Go north young brewers

By Michael Donaldson on Saturday, April 2nd, 2016 in News. No Comments

Heading: Magnetic North Standfirst: Michael Donaldson sees a brewing wave descending on Auckland. Images: Joe Wood at his new brewery in Helensville. The Funk Estate team Dylan Shearer, Shigeo Takagi and Jordan Evison have moved into the premises where Governor brewed. In the mid-19th century as Americans started to venture from the eastern seaboard to […]


Burn brothers’ fight back

By Michael Donaldson on Friday, April 1st, 2016 in News. No Comments

Andrew Childs would never, ever again want to go through the ordeal of being burnt by boiling wort again but even he can see the upside of the


Farmhouse flavours

By Michael Donaldson on Tuesday, March 29th, 2016 in News. No Comments

Farmhouse – it’s the new buzzword in beer. You always know something’s on trend when a big brewery dips its toe into a puddle that previously entertained only the splashes of a few smaller brewers. When Lion-owned Mac’s last month released Hay Day, a farmhouse ale, it seemed this obscure style of beer had reached […]


Super-charged for flavor

By Michael Donaldson on Sunday, March 27th, 2016 in News. No Comments

Call it the beer-lovers beer of choice. After all, to be voted top beer by the country’s most avid consumers must mean something. Panhead Custom Ales’ Supercharger – a super-hoppy American pale ale – topped the voting at the annual SOBA awards for the best beer of 2015. SOBA – the Society of Beer Advocates […]