The Bottleneck’s Top 20 Beers You Must Try to Put on Your Bucket List Before You Die

Are you vaguely interested in beer, but not really an independent thinker? Do you need the approval of an expert or authority figure to tell you what to drink? Or perhaps you just need to quickly brush up on ‘craft’ beers, so you can sound knowledgeable down at the pub and make other people think you’re an expert in a field you only just heard of last week?

Well, your luck is in, because here is:

The Bottleneck’s Top 20 Beers You Must Try to Put on Your Bucket List Before You Die

Yes, next time you’re at a beer bar, don’t listen to staff, just rattle off this list and if they don’t have any of the beers on it, leave. Beacause if it’s not on the list, it’s not worth your time.

1. Emerson’s Pilsner

Yes, I’m starting uncontroversial here: this crisp Pilsner is a New Zealand classic. In fact it’s so classic, I’m including it here over a bunch of other Pilsners I like more because Emerson’s has more pedigree and if I didn’t include it here, I’d lose credibility.

2. Panhead Supercharger APA

Up until last year this would have said Tuatara APA, but since Supercharger came along, that’s all changed. Now if I recommended Tuatara over Supercharger, I’d look old fashioned. Wellingtonians now cry if they go into a bar and  this crisp, hoppy Pale Ale isn’t on tap.

3. 8 Wired Hopwired

I’m sure you saw this one coming too. This crisp India Pale Ale is another New Zealand classic. No one’s going to argue about this being on the list.

4. Mussel Inn Captain Cooker

Now we’re getting a little more unusual, but still playing it safe. Everyone likes Mussel Inn’s crisp manuka beer, and you can’t deny it’s distinctly New Zealand.

5. Ballast Point Sculpin IPA

Ha! I lulled you into a false sense of security! You thought this was going to be an entirely New Zealand beer list. Well, it’s not. This crisp American IPA is a must try for any wannabe Beer Geek.

6. Garage Project Day of the Dead

Finally, we’re getting into the more exciting stuff. This crisp dark lager is infused with chillies and chocolate to make it smooth and spicy. It’s only available in November, so you’ll have to search hard to find it, but what fun are these things without a bit of a challenge thrown in?

7. Every Single Trappist Beer

I could list them all individually, but what’s the point? You’ll never be able to remember the difference between Chimay Red as opposed to Blue, and the numbering system other Trappists use is barely more helpful. But you can’t be a Beer Geek without trying at least one beer from each brewery, and when you’ve achieved this you will be presented with a special card that certifies your geek status. You will have to pass a test where you name all the breweries, otherwise your card gets revoked.

8. Westvleteren 12

Yeah I know I this beer is already listed in number 7, but it deserves to be mentioned twice. Telling someone else that you’ve tried this crisp Quadrupel is the beer equivalent of sex on a cloud, an experience totally justifies the $60+ price of a bottle in New Zealand. Because it’s not like other breweries in the world have succeeded in making beers equally as good. Just remember to really rub it in other people’s faces that you’ve had it and they haven’t.

10. Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude

This crisp Smoked Golden Ale is incredibly divisive. So divisive that a lot of people openly say it’s the worst beer they’ve ever tried. Secretly, I don’t actually like it: it tastes like you threw bandaids on a tire-fire. But you’re not allowed to be a Beer Geek without claiming to like Rex, so on it goes.

11. Heineken

I swear I wasn’t paid to put this beer on the list… Honestly. This crisp lager is not very exciting, but it belongs here because it will a) guarantee that even the most uninitiated reader can feel good they’ve tried at least one beer I name; and b) it acts a snob-insurance. When people in the comments section start calling me a total beer-wanker, I’ll be able to point to this and say “No, see: I like normal beers too!”

12. Schneider Aventinus

This crisp Weizenbock is included so any Germans reading this don’t get offended. Essentially the token black guy of beers.

13. The Alchemist Heady Topper

A while back this would have been Russian Pliny the Elder, but that’s sooo 2012. This crisp IPA is incredibly hard to come by, but I’ve had it so why haven’t you?

14. Croucher Pale Ale

Ah! What breath of crisp, fresh air! A crisp beer you’ve (probably) tried or at least can get your hands on fairly easily. Basically I’m throwing the less dedicated readers a bone here so they don’t stop reading before the end.

15. Russian River Pliny the Younger

This is the even hoppier version of the aforementioned crisp IPA from Russian River. They only release it at the brewpub for two weeks of the year, so it’s incredibly hard, but not impossible to get hold of some. I haven’t actually had any, but no ‘Beers You Must Try’ list would be complete without it, so on it goes.

16. 3 Floyds Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout

Another incredibly hard to get hold of beer (you pretty much have to enter a lottery to buy some). But it’s theoretically possible you might get your hands on it. Again, I haven’t actually had any, so I’m just going to copy-paste the description from the website. After all, that’s what most of these ‘Must Try’ lists do anyway:

A demonic Russian-Style Imperial Stout brewed with coffee, Mexican vanilla, and Indian sugar, this CRISP beer defies description. Available one day a year, in April at the brewery: Dark Lord Day.

17. Three Boys Golden Ale

Another easy, crisp beer, just to lull you into a false sense of security before the big finish.

18. Emerson’s Old 95

This crisp Old Ale went out of production years ago. However, there might be the slightest chance you find a forgotten bottle in a friend’s beer cellar. Steal it and drink it yourself. It’s worth it, and the guilt will eventually fade.

19. Garage Project Hazel Maple Mild

Oh you’re a Garage Project fanboy? Well have you tried this beer? I doubt it. This crisp Mild Ale (infused with hazelnuts and maple syrup) was released in 2011 during the 24/24. They only made 40L and the garage boys have never hinted at a re-brew. You will never drink it. I have though.

20. Silver Cat Angry Gummy Bear White Stout

Both this crisp beer and brewery have never existed and never will. I made it up so that you can never complete this list. You will spend your whole life with a tiny worm of niggling dissatisfaction that you never truly achieved full Beer Geek status. Remember me on your deathbed and know that I am laughing at you.

Because fuck you.

So now you have all the tools you need to become a fully-fledged Beer Geek. Take this list wherever you go. And remember, don’t listen to Beertenders (they’re petty, vicious, snobby liars), don’t explore the beer world in all it’s variety, don’t drink local, don’t take the time to form your own opinions on what you like/dislike (your feeble brain will lie to you) and don’t ever, ever, think for yourself. I’m better at thinking than you are.
This is a satirical post. Whilst 99.9% of you will have figure that out, Poe’s Law dictates that at least one person hasn’t.

The Problem With Beer Photography

Not very long ago, a couple of my friends pitched an idea to me: an NZ-Beer-themed charity calendar. At the time I said it was a great idea. I even said I’d be in it. At the back of my head though, that mean little voice, that little worm of doubtful realism was wriggling around. And with good reason: Beer photography is a pretty dire field really.

When I say this, I’m not talking about the works of skilled photography enthusiasts like Jed Soane. No, I’m talking about  general everyday beer photos (particularly with people involved) found all over sites like Stuff.

You see there really isn’t you can do with beer as a photographic theme. It kind of always boils down to a few repeated poses, such as:

Pour me a beer.

Maybe it’s on tap.

Pour 1

Maybe it’s from a bottle.

Pour 2

Maybe it’s at the brewery.

Pour 3

The wonderful Misty from Three Boys.

The awesome Pete from Garage Project.

The awesome Pete from Garage Project.

The trouble with this shot is that after you’ve poured six pints, you’re getting fairly annoyed with the photographer and wasting a fair amount of beer. That’s when you move on to…

Hold a Beer Up to the Camera. 

It’ll seem like you’re cheersing the viewer. Sort of.

Hold 2



Ok, try and look less annoyed at the photographer.

Ok, try and look less stiff, if you can.

Or, try both, like this double header!

Ah, Sam, do you remember the acting advice Downey Jr. gave Stiller in Tropic Thunder? Yeah, that.

Ah, Sam, do you remember the acting advice Downey Jr. gave Stiller in Tropic Thunder? Yeah, that.

Alright, this isn’t working. Um, lets try…

Holding a beer up to the light.

Like you’re checking the clarity!

On point again there, Mike. Looking good.

On point there, Mike. Looking good.

Ok, not sure why you're in a shipping container, but that's great, Josh.

Ok, not sure why you’re in a shipping container, but that’s good, Josh.

Ok, great, we've got the shot. You can holding things up now Josh.

Ok great, we’ve got the shot. You can holding things up now.

Ok Stu, I like what you're doing, but can you maybe dial it down a smidge?

Ok Stu, I like what you’re doing, but can you maybe dial it down a smidge? You’re scaring me a bit.

Ok, this just isn’t working. Can you just…

Hold the packaging and try and look vaguely sensible?

Good work there, John.

Good work there, John. You got the beer and the bottle in shot. Double points.

Kelly nails it.

Kelly nails it.

I swear this is the last photo I'll take. Please don't kill me.

I swear this is the last photo I’ll take. Please don’t kill me.

Oh, you again, Josh.

Oh, you again, Josh.

Yeah, that's lovely, thanks...

Yeah, that’s lovely, thanks…

Really Josh, that's enough.

Ok Josh, that’s enough now.

Damnit Gareth, don't Encourage him!

Damnit Gareth, don’t Encourage him!

Just stop already!

Just stop already!

Of course sometimes, a  photographer aims a little higher. That’s when you get things like…

People sitting on brewery equipment. 

Martin Getting comfy on some grain.

Martin Getting comfy on some grain.

Trifecta from the Garage boys: A Package, a cheers and some barrells.

Trifecta from the Garage boys: A Package, a cheers and some barrels.

If you’re very lucky, you might get a.

Handsome brewery worker, hefting an (empty) keg.

Soren, showing us how it's done.

Soren, showing us how it’s done.

Work it Matts! Oh, and some Brewery Equipment! Bonus!

Work it Matts! Oh, and some Brewery Equipment! Bonus!

Finally, the most creative sub-genre: shots of…

People fingering the ingredients of beer. 

Yum-yum Crystal Malt.

Yum-yum Crystal Malt.

Cryer, not bothered.

Cryer, not bothered.

"Ah, guys, I've lost my watch in here. Can you help me find it?"

“Ah, guys, I’ve lost my watch in here. Can you help me find it?”

I'm just going to leave this here...

I’m just going to leave this here…

So to go back to where I started; when I heard that someone was going to do a calendar of beer people, what flashed through my brain was an endless procession of gormless derps my colleagues and contemporaries gathered around their bars and breweries awkwardly holding pint glasses and not quite knowing in which direction to look.

I’ve never been happier to be proved so wrong in my life.

From the photos that have been leaked from the calendar, it seems as if more creativity, enginuity and passion has been injected into this project than I’d ever thought possible. It seems that each contributor has picked up the spirit of the calendar is making it into their own. Here’s a selection of leaked photographs.


Oh yes.

The Lumbersexuals. Oh yes.

Yeastie Boys

Not sure what to call this one, but I like it.

Not sure what to call this one, but I like it.

Viva la Revolucion!

Viva la Revolucion!


Makes sense.

Makes sense.

Beer Media

Note The Bottleneck in the robe...

Note The Bottleneck in the robe…

And of course…

Golding’s Free Dive

GFD Canteena

Yes, there does exist a photo of Han and Young Obi Wan making out. No, you can’t see it.

Wonderful stuff. I can honestly say, I’m massively looking forward to the calendar’s imminent release.

The Craft Beer Calendar is the project of Jess Ducey and Megan Whelan. Proceeds go to the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network. It’s a very good cause, and I encourage you to get onboard. Pledges can be made here.

 N.B. – All images used here are publicly available, through Google, Stuff, Facebook and Twitter. This post is not intended to be a dig at Moa or Josh Scott. Numerous Moa publicity shots (along with samples of their sexist, racist and homophobic marketing material) featured in almost every Google search I made. Hi Josh.