Five of the best Auckland craft beer venues

PETER MEECHAM/stuff.co.nz

The staggering growth of craft beer in New Zealand means it's almost impossible to keep track of every new brewer and the bars serving their products.  

Demand from discerning drinkers means more places than ever are popping up where you can indulge in an IPA or polish off a few pilsners.

And while the boom in boutique brewing has traditionally been driven by Wellington, which stakes its claim as the 'craft beer capital', or Nelson the 'brewing capital', Auckland is growing quickly with a rising reputation for quality beer. 

So whether you're a beer beginner or a craft connoisseur looking for somewhere different, here are our picks of Auckland's best established and up-and-coming venues.

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1. Brothers Beer - City and Mt Eden
Taps: 18 (city), 13 (Mt Eden)
Opened at City Works depot in 2013 and Brothers Juke Joint Mt Eden in 2015

Brother's Beer
Supplied

Brother's Beer

One business that's expanded into two distinctly different sites. City Works Depot is the smaller, more intimate setting with retro furniture, while the converted warehouse at Mt Eden has lots of open space, long tables and offers up American-style barbecued food.

As well as brewing their own beer, they have one of the city's best range of bottled beer, especially American and British, beer author Michael Donaldson, of beernation.co.nz, says. Donaldson reckons they've done well considering it was hard to see how the City Works site was going to work. "The bar is awkwardly located in a corner and the outdoor tables are in a carpark, but it just has that hipster vibe down pat," he says.

2. The Brewers Co-operative - City
Taps: 20
Opened in October 2015

The Brewers Cooperative
THE BREWERS COOPERATIVE/SUPPLIED

The Brewers Cooperative

Very casual atmosphere with staff keen to help you taste your way through a good selection of beers. It's kitted out with stools around rustic tables refashioned from wooden doors. 

The pub specialises in a gourmet version of the Kiwi favourite, fish and chips. Set up on a cosy little corner of Victoria St and Nelson St in the city, it's becoming a pretty popular spot for after-work drinks or a long lunch. 

3. The Beer Spot - Northcote
​Taps: 40
Opened March 2016

A Beer Spot tasting platter.
Supplied

A Beer Spot tasting platter.

The newest addition to Auckland's beer scene has been years in the making for friends Jason Payn and Laurence van Dam. They've got a pretty straightforward idea of running the place with beers they like, and demystifying some of the high-falutin language associated with the brewing process. 

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The approach, targeted at newcomers as much as enthusiasts, is spelled out pretty clearly as you set foot on the doormat that says 'no c word' (craft). "It's about taking the fear out of bear," Payn says. There's no danger of running out of choice with 40 different New Zealand beers on offer at all times, and specially fitted taps allowing you to take home pressure-filled bottles of extra fresh beer.

4. Hallertau - Riverhead
​Taps: 16
Opened as a brewery in 2005 

The new beer garden at the back of the Hallertau brewery and restaurant.
HALLERTAU/SUPPLIED

The new beer garden at the back of the Hallertau brewery and restaurant.

A good way to cap off a daytrip out west is to whet the whistle at Hallertau. They offer brewery tours for $25 including a tasting of four different beers. Donaldson says: "Its new covered beer garden based around a central bar and woodfired oven is idyllic and the food, overseen by celeb chef Michael Van de Elzen is divine".

Their own brews are labelled 1, 2, 3 and 4. "They're reliably good", Donaldson says, "and they are always experimenting - especially with sour beers, including the latest release which is made with sourdough bread and yeast".  

5. Galbraiths Ale House - Eden Terrace 
​Taps: 18
Opened: 1995

Galbraiths Ale House
GALBRAITHS/SUPPLIED

Galbraiths Ale House

The proper pub feel gives Galbraith's an edge for those looking to drink somewhere with a bit of character. It's Auckland's longest-running brewpub and is in a building which once housed the Grafton Library.

"It's an olde worlde English style pub specialising in cask conditioned beers," Donaldson says. These offer a unique flavour and mouthfeel, but don't think warm and flat. They have a rotating number of hand-pumped ales, regular guest taps and their bottled collection is one of the best in Auckland. 

 

 

 - Stuff

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