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Wow! Wellington bills itself as the craft beer capital of New Zealand, and it’s no mystery as to why. In total, we visited 9 different hot spots and there were at least 5 or 6 more we could have seen had we had more time. Very impressive for a city with a population of just over 200,000 people.
A reliable source had told us to head to “cult beer bar” Hashigo Zake as our first call. This cellar bar offers a large range of constantly rotating kegged beers, with a lot of US and of course NZ presence.
There have also been significant numbers of their team in the past who have gone on to work in or set up breweries around NZ, which means if you want to go somewhere to indulge in ‘beery chat’ this is a great option. Anyways, back to the bar! The setting is pretty cool with a Japanese twist, with a few small and separate areas to enjoy the excellent beer selection.
We moved on from Hashigo to grab some food… Grill Meats Beer seemed like the only sensible selection to us, and we weren’t disappointed. A solid bottle list, plus a few keg taps and some epic burgers rounded our first night off in Wellington in style.
We had realised that as it was a Sunday our options for beer spots were fairly limited so we head back to Hashigo in the evening to sample the other options on tap that we hadn’t tried the previous night (as well as a few new ones), before heading to The Malthouse.
As Wellington’s oldest craft beer bar, opening its doors 20 years ago, the Malthouse serves a huge quantity of kegged and bottled beers. The added bonus that it is open late gave the place a cool late night vibe while we sampled as many beers as we could before wandering home.
We headed to ParrotDog‘s taproom for an early morning tasting and learnt more about their ongoing relocation to a larger site. Nice. Their existing taproom, although centrally located leaves little room for expansion so we can see why they are moving and are “stoked” about what a larger site could bring!
Next up, Garage Project, who have both a brewery and rigger (Kiwi for growler FYI) fillery, as well as a taproom/bar on the same street. Unfortunately for us, the taproom was closed as it was a Monday, but that didn’t stop us from sampling a number of the rigger fill options and walking out with a bit of merch like true fangirls/boys! The location of their brewery is a great one, tucked neatly into an old gas station and car workshop, that was once owned and run by one of the first female racing drivers of NZ.
Interestingly, this is not the reason behind the name of the brewery though. That is attributed to the humble beginnings in the founders actual home garage, but a great way for them to continue the theming of the business and bring an old dilapidated garage back into a great use of space.
After warming our palates up with samples it was time to head to The Third Eye, Tuatara’s craft beer bar.
Here we met Bridie, a very passionate craft beer enthusiast and on the day, in charge of the bar, who was happy to talk to us about where we should visit in town with the rest of our afternoon, as well as give us some details of the rest of the NZ craft beer scene. *we note that sadly Tuatara has now been bought by Heineken owned DB breweries.
We managed to prise ourselves away from the Third Eye and went to get some lunch and more beers from Fork & Brewer. A microbrewery and eatery in the centre of town with an enormous range of own brewed beers on tap.
The Fork & Brewer were one of the 6 NZ breweries to take part in the 2016 Rainbow Project and as it happened their delicious collaboration for the said Rainbow Project with Magic Rock, “The Upside Down” was on offer. Win.
Little Beer Quarter or LBQ was next on the list. We had tried to visit over the weekend, but as we walked in they were closing up, so we vowed to return and enjoy the place. We weren’t disappointed. A great eclectic mix of décor and a very pleasant tap and bottle list, complete with a good number of seats ensured we were in good company in our final stop of this top-notch beer city.
Thumbs up Wellington. Big Thumbs Up.
Over the next few days we travelled North towards Auckland stopping at Kereru brewing co on route. About an hour drive from the centre of Wellington in Upper Hutt, the humble garage start-up has now taken residence in a large warehouse with masses of room to expand. Some top beers available to taste and off license sales only from the fillery, but our host Brandon was happy to show us around the plant and allow us to sample all their beers available. A very worthwhile stop on our trip North.