With the arrival of autumn, light, thirst-quenching beers are moved aside in favour of darker and more filling options. And no – in New Zealand, that doesn’t mean the God-awful Pumpkin Spice varieties our American cousins tried to convince us were the Next Big Thing this time last year. Kiwi beers ideal for the season are warming, richly crafted and meant for slower sipping. Wrap your laughing gear around these.
Originating in the Pacific Northwest and California during the ‘80s, Amber Ale is a variety of pale ale offering a reddish colour that ranges from light copper to dark amber. Also known as Red Ale, it’s characterised by the sweet flavour of the malts used in the brewing process, and the caramel notes this beer style is famous for.
For a locally-produced Amber Ale, try Stoke Amber which promises a hint of honey, strong biscuity tones and a soft, velvety-smooth finish.
Easy-drinking lagers are a crowd pleaser year-round in New Zealand, but German-style black lagers – also known as Schwarzbier – are drier, darker and more roast-oriented. They tend to have an opaque, black colour with hints of chocolate or coffee flavours which makes them a great choice for autumn. While porters have an ale-y weightiness, black lagers offer a similarly roasted flavour profile while maintaining the refreshing quality and light body of a lager.
For a Kiwi Black Lager, try Zeelandt Brewery’s Black Monk (Schwarzbier). Proclaimed by the brewers as ‘elegance in a glass’, this German-inspired black lager is smooth with a refreshingly dry finish.
Brown Ales are among the most under-appreciated styles out there, but they’re classics in countries where the weather almost always requires a sweater. These brews are hearty without being heavy, making them perfect for warm days with cool nights. Their characteristically nutty and robust flavours are great matches for autumn, and they provide a great balance between heavy dark beers and crisp, hoppy brews: bringing forward a little sweetness on the palate while finishing crisp and dry.
Try Behemoth Brewing Company’s American-style Upside Down Brown, which won Silver at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Beer Awards in 2021
Few brews can match the creamy majesty of a Milk Stout, which easily top every beer aficionado’s list of the easiest-drinking fridge stuffers for autumn. These dark beauties are brewed with lactose, which imparts sweetness and incomparable richness. Milk Stout is a complex style that can be difficult to figure out at first taste. It demands a second or a third try – making it the perfect variety to sample over the longer evenings of the season.
Looking for a Milk Stout that offers a hint of spice? Sample Cassels Triple Cream Milk Stout, which offers a creamy and full-bodied mouth-feel, and bittersweet, mocha aromatics.
If you want to dip your toe into the waters of darker beer this autumn, reach for a Porter – the easy-drinking cousin of stouts. First brewed in England in the 1700s, Porters have a thinner mouthfeel and lower malt bitterness. Firm-bodied – but not heavy – and with a creamy texture, they offer notes of chocolate, caramel, coffee and a little smooth sweetness from the sugar in the malt.
Try Emerson’s London Porter – a dark, dry and mellow brew with a toasty aroma and earthy hop notes.