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It is over 150 years since hops were first planted in Nelson and those early German and European immigrants started something good. Nelson hops are now eagerly sought-after by brewers world-wide and hop gardens are a unique feature of the landscape of this region.The hop harvest is in late summer, when there is a lot of activity in the gardens as the towering vines are cut, the flowers removed and then dried in hop kilns. Many historic hop kilns, with their distinctive vented roofs, are still visible in the area.
Nelson's craft breweries range from the tiny, operated by a single brewer, to the larger scaled operations. Many breweries welcome visitors for tours, tastings and takeaway sales and some have cafes attached too. More information on Nelson Craft Breweries is available at craftbrewingcapital.co.nz
The Gentle Cycling Company offers an easy self-guided bike tour which visits three Nelson craft breweries. Learn more about the Great Taste tour here.
- McCashins Brewery and Café is the largest of the three, where the range includes their famous Stoke beers and an intriguing Smoky Ale. The McCashin family have been brewing beer since 1980 and the brewery café is a popular, relaxed local venue.
- Bays Brewery uses the most traditional and natural brewing methods (no sugar, chemicals or preservatives). Their brews include Bohemian pilsners, English style India pale ales and a true English dry cider.
- Lighthouse Brewery is New Zealand’s smallest microbrewery and it’s brewer, Dick, is probably the friendliest brewer you are likely to meet. This boutique brewery produces only 200 litres at a time and has won critical acclaim for it’s collection, including pilsners, stout, lager and a seasonal berry cider.
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