Craft beers lead doubling of NZ breweries

The number of New Zealand breweries has almost doubled over the past four years, led by an increase in the number of small craft brewers.

BUSINESSDESK: The number of New Zealand breweries almost doubled over the past four years, led by an increase in the number of small craft brewers, the Brewers Guild says.

New Zealand breweries increased by 42% to 68 in the four years through 2011, led by a 50% rise in the number of small craft breweries, producing less than 40,000 litres per annum, to 30.

Production of craft beer increased an average 3% a year over the past three years.

"The increased number of small brewers and the volume of the beer they are producing suggest the public are changing their drinking habits," guild president Ralph Bungard says.

"There is an explosion of beer flavours and styles available to consumers, and that means more of the public are finding a beer that suits their taste and lifestyle.

"It is very encouraging to see the growth and diversification in the industry and it is a good sign that most brewers consider that they will grow in size and look to be exporting in the next year," he says.

Small- to medium-sized breweries, producing 40,000 to 100,000 litres per annum, recorded the most consistent increase in production, with an average output rise of 7% every six months.

The New Zealand beer awards will be held in Wellington on August 16.