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Wellington, New Zealand and craft beer go together like Winston Churchill and a cigar, hipsters and sriracha, caramel and salt and… you get the picture. I travelled to Wellington last year for Beervana, which is an annual festival put on to showcase the best of craft beer from New Zealand and Australia. In 2013, over 200 beers were available to sample. Beervana was great fun, however the thing that impressed me most during my time in Wellington was the sheer amount of craft beer bars in the city – all within walking distance of each other.

Given that some of the best hops in the world come from New Zealand, it’s unsurprising that some of the best beer in the world does too. Wellington, I look forward to seeing you again in August, but for now let me reminisce by sharing with you all my pick of the city’s best craft beer venues.

Fork & Brewer

Fork & Brewer makes its intentions known to visitors at the outset. Walking up the stairs and past the brewing equipment (Fork & Brewer’s house brews are brewed on site), patrons are greeted by an enormous keg inspired bar, containing 40 taps of beer, as well a decent range of bottled beers, spirits and wine (I won’t write this for subsequent venues – they all offer spirits and wine of course). The venue is quite large and the vibe is, like most places in Wellington, laid back and super friendly. The food menu is quite extensive, however my friends and I didn’t eat here during our stay.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand fork & brewer

wellington craft beer guide new zealand fork & brewer

Fork & Brewer

14 Bond Street
Te Aro
Wellington 6011
New Zealand

Telephone: (04) 472 0033
Email:          info@forkandbrewer.co.nz
Website:      http://forkandbrewer.co.nz/

Open
Mon – Wed: 11:30am to 10:30pm
Thu:              11:30am to 1:30am
Fri:                11:30am to 3:00am
Sat:               11:30am to 1:30am

Fork & Brewer on Urbanspoon

Garage Project

Garage Project is one of the best breweries in New Zealand in my opinion. Housed in an old Shell gas station station, these guys create some amazing beers and aren’t afraid to experiment with unusual flavours and brewing techniques (flash heated, fire poker blended beer anyone? Nitro blasted beer slushies more your taste perhaps?).

Tastings are available at the cellar door – my friends and I went 3 times because we liked their beers so much. The highlight was the Lord Cockswain’s Courage Double Bourbon Barrel-Aged porter which was, big call, my favourite beer of 2013. Christmas in a glass would be the best way to describe it with hints of raisin and coconut coming through from the bourbon barrels.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand garage project

wellington craft beer guide new zealand garage project

wellington craft beer guide new zealand garage project

A few of the Garage Project team getting creative at Beervana. It’s beer Jim, but not as we know it.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand garage project beervana

wellington craft beer guide new zealand garage project beervana

Garage Project

60 Aro Street
Aro Valley
Wellington 6021
New Zealand

Telephone: n/a
Email:          info@garageproject.co.nz
Website:      http://garageproject.co.nz/

Open
Mon – Sat: 10:00am to 8:00pm
Sun:           10:00am to 6:30pm

Golding’s Free Dive

Hidden down a lane way, my friends and I stumbled across Golding’s Free Dive by chance on our last day in Wellington. This was just as well, as this American dive themed bar quickly cemented its place as one of our favourite craft beer venues in the city.

A great selection of beers are available on tap and in bottles, and a decent selection of pizzas. There’s a nitro tap, which had the Rogue Shakespeare Stout running through it when we visited and also a custom made hand pump which is as impressive to look at as the beer that comes out of it is to drink.

The staff are super friendly and the venue has a real fun, unpretentious vibe to it. The day we visited there was ramen being served out of the kitchen by the team from the Ramen Shop who go around Wellington taking over kitchens to sell their delicious ramen. There was also a craft beer photography competition being judged. As a result, the place was pumping.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand golding's free dive

We were the first ones there. Half an hour later you could barely move inside.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand golding's free dive

wellington craft beer guide new zealand golding's free dive

If it wasn’t for the Ramen Shop being there, we would have definitely gone for one of the pizzas.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand golding's free dive

wellington craft beer guide new zealand golding's free dive

wellington craft beer guide new zealand golding's free dive

The limited run Funk Estate Super Afro-Disiac was an Imperial Stout loaded full of every aphrodisiac imaginable. It didn’t make me fall in love with my friends, but it was a very delicious brew, with all of the unusual flavours present in just the right amount as not to be overpowering.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand golding's free dive

Golding’s Free Dive

14 Leeds Street
Te Aro
Wellington 6021
New Zealand

Telephone: (04) 381 3616
Email:          goldingsfreedive@gmail.com
Website:      http://goldingsfreedive.co.nz/

Open
Mon – Sun: 12:00pm to 12:00am

Hashigo Zake

Hashigo Zake is arguably the top craft beer destination in Wellington. As well as serving an excellently crafted selection of tap and bottled beers, they are also one of New Zealand’s biggest importers of craft beer (from December 2013, the wholesale business is run in its own right as “Beer Without Borders“), supplying many of the other craft beer bars around the country. There’s seemingly nothing that these guys can’t source and the staff’s knowledge of, and passion for beer is exceptional.

Food wise, a range of pies, udon noodles and other Japanese snacks are available.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand hashigo zake

The “naughty fridge” to the left in the background of this photo contains some amazing, rather special beers. My friends and I shared a Mikkeller/Cigar City Swinging Harry Tropical Quad (an Abt/Quadrupel style beer), which was brewed with papaya and mango and aged in Grand Marnier barrels. Cigar City beers are extremely hard to get outside of the United States and when we saw this one in the naughty fridge, we knew we had to have it. It was, unsurprisingly delicious and very tropical tasting.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand hashigo zake

wellington craft beer guide new zealand hashigo zake

wellington craft beer guide new zealand hashigo zake

Hashigo Zake

25 Taranaki Street
Te Aro
Wellington 6011
New Zealand

Telephone: (04) 384-7300
Email:          n/a
Website:      http://hashigozake.co.nz/

Open
Sun – Thu: 12:00pm to 11:00pm
Fri – Sat:    12:00pm to 1:00am

Little Beer Quarter

Little Beer Quarter, or “LBQ” as it’s commonly referred to, is very popular. So popular in fact that we couldn’t even get in there the first time that my friends and I tried. With 14 rotating taps, 2 hand pumps and over 100 different bottled beers to choose from, LBQ draws a varied crowd from the young alternative types to the after work office crowd and the older crowd too. As I noticed with many places that I frequented in Wellington, nobody really seems to care who you are or what your scene is. As long as you’re out and about and willing to enjoy yourself it’s all good. The lack of pretension is and genuine friendliness is very refreshing.

Food is a range of share plates and other gastro-pub type meals, and a range of board games to rekindle memories of one’s youth sweetens the deal even further.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand little beer quarter

wellington craft beer guide new zealand little beer quarter

wellington craft beer guide new zealand little beer quarter

wellington craft beer guide new zealand little beer quarter

Little Beer Quarter

6 Edward Street
Te Aro
Wellington 6011
New Zealand

Telephone: (04) 803 3304
Email:          littlebeerquarter@xtra.co.nz
Website:      http://littlebeerquarter.co.nz/

Open
Mon:            4:00pm to 3:00am
Tue – Sun:    12:00pm to 3:00am

Little Beer Quarter on Urbanspoon

ParrotDog

ParrotDog is another brewery that’s located in the centre of Wellington. Started by two students who liked to home brew, it soon expanded into something much bigger. There’s a cellar door at the brewery where visitors can sample the beers on offer and buy beer to takeaway (bottled or from the tap in a flagon).

The Pitbull American IPA was my favourite of the range, and in a trend I’ve noticed becoming more prevalent as of late, the low alcohol beer “The Dogg” was really good too.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand parrotdog

wellington craft beer guide new zealand parrotdog

wellington craft beer guide new zealand parrotdog

ParrotDog

29 Vivian Street
Te Aro
Wellington 6011
New Zealand

Telephone: (04) 384 8077
Email:          info@parrotdog.co.nz
Website:      http://parrotdog.co.nz/

Open
Mon – Thu:    10:00am to 6:00am
Fri:                 10:00am to 8:00pm
Sat:                12:00am to 6:00pm
Sun:               10:00am to 4:00pm

The Malthouse

The Malthouse was where my Wellington craft beer odyssey began. I entered the venue on a quiet afternoon and was greeted by a friendly bartender who really knew his stuff when it came to craft beer. The offering at the Malthouse is an impressive line up of 28 taps, 2 hand pumps and over 150 bottled beers across 6 different temperature controlled fridges. It’s the kind of place where patrons are really encouraged to broaden their pallets and try something new.

Needless to say, this first afternoon in Wellington was not the last time I would visit the Malthouse during this trip, and when I came back a few nights later, the place was bustling and full of interesting people to chat to.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand the malthouse

wellington craft beer guide new zealand the malthouse

wellington craft beer guide new zealand the malthouse

The Malthouse

48 Courtenay Place
Te Aro
Wellington 6011
New Zealand

Telephone: (04) 802 5484
Email:          info@themalthouse.co.nz
Website:      http://themalthouse.co.nz/

Open
Mon – Tue:    3:00pm to late
Wed – Sun:    12:00pm to late

The Malt House on Urbanspoon

The Rogue & Vagabond

Describing The Rogue & Vagabond as a craft beer bar is not really correct in that music, including live music is just as important as the beer. A craft beer/live music venue is more apt perhaps? In any case, fans with a wide ranging taste in craft beer and eclectic taste in music will not be disappointed by The Rogue & Vagabond. You can even bring your pet dog if you like.

On the beer front, 16 rotating taps, 2 hand pumps and a decent selection of bottles are on offer and for those who are hungry, a range of snacks, pizzas and pub meals are available. Outdoor seating helps to seal the deal.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand the rogue & vagabond

wellington craft beer guide new zealand the rogue & vagabond

wellington craft beer guide new zealand the rogue & vagabond

wellington craft beer guide new zealand the rogue & vagabond

The Rogue & Vagabond

18 Garrett Street
Te Aro
Wellington 6011
New Zealand

Telephone: (04) 381 2321
Email:          gwilym@rogueandvagabond.co.nz
Website:      http://rogueandvagabond.co.nz/

Open
Mon – Sun:    12:00pm to late

The Hop Garden

The Hop Garden places equal focus on good beer, wine and food. There are 12 rotating beer taps and 1 hand pump plus a selection of beers. The range isn’t as extensive as some of the other places on this list, but it’s still a decent range and the food is a cut above the usual pub fare. Most of the venue is in an covered out door area and it has a really laid back, family friendly vibe to it.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand the hop garden

Wellington On a Plate, the city’s major food festival, was on at the same time I was visiting. You can read more about it when I put my Wellington Food Guide up, however in the meantime I’ll describe the burger below, which was part of the “Garage Project Burger Challenge” that many of the pubs and restaurants in the city entered.

A quarter kilo of hop-smoked beef with Moore Wilson Fresh Linkwater aged cheddar, red onion and gherkin relish in a Pandoro mixed-grain bun. The hops gave the beef a flavour unlike anything I have ever tried. Unique is the word I will use.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand the hop garden

wellington craft beer guide new zealand the hop garden

The Hop Garden

13 Pirie Street
Mt Victoria
Wellington 6011
New Zealand

Telephone: (04) 801 8807
Email:          thehopgarden@gmail.com
Website:      http://thehopgarden.co.nz/

Open
Mon – Tue:    3:00pm to late
Wed – Fri:    11:30pm to late
Sat – Sun:    10:30pm to late

The Hop Garden on Urbanspoon

The Tap Haus

The Tap Haus is another venue that focuses on wine and beer equally. The beers are mostly local and while the selection isn’t as adventurous as some of the other places on this list, it’s still a decent place to introduce yourself to what New Zealand has to offer on the beer front. A range of bar snacks and pub meals are available for those looking for a bite to eat.

wellington craft beer guide new zealand the tap haus

wellington craft beer guide new zealand the tap haus

wellington craft beer guide new zealand the tap haus

The Tap Haus

145 Victoria Street
Te Aro
Wellington 6011
New Zealand

Telephone: (04) 805 0045
Email:          thetaphausnz@gmail.com
Website:      http://thetaphaus.co.nz/

Open
Mon – Sun:    12:00pm to late

The Tap Haus on Urbanspoon


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