Wellington is sometimes referred to as New Zealand’s craft beer capital - not so much for its breweries as for the choice of fine beer-drinking venues.
Wellington’s rise as a world class beer destination is a relatively recent phenomenon, but one quickly growing in popularity. Fuelled by a liberal population of musicians, students, tech wizards (like those at Weta Workshop) and foodies, the craft beer scene is transforming the city from the political capital, to the capital of beer.
Beer enthusiasts continue to explore the science of beer in Wellington, from craft brewers experimenting with volcanic rocks to chefs experimenting with ice cream and beer combinations. So not matter what kinds of beer you’re seeking, they’ll all be within a hop of each other in downtown Wellington. The city centre is a tightly focussed array of bars and dining establishments and over 25% of all tap beer sold in the city is craft. So what are you waiting for?
The best way to start your beer adventures is with the Craft Capital Beer Trail – a self-guided tour of Wellington’s specialist craft beer bars. Download yourself a map and easily navigate your way around sixteen craft beer bars, eight craft beer breweries and four bottle stores stocking the finest local brews.
For a slightly shorter experience the trail is divided into two handy sections – North and South – both of which can be tackled on foot. Local buses also run regularly for those who want to take longer hops between venues.
Go on a journey of beer enlightenment at one of New Zealand’s largest craft beer festivals. With more than 450 beers on offer and the opportunity to meet many of New Zealand’s best brewers as well as a few hand-picked VIP's from around the globe, you wouldn’t want to miss out on Beervana. What’s more, alongside a stellar line up of breweries, top eateries present their craft-beer friendly foods to satisfy all appetites. Beervana happens in Wellington every August - see http://beervana.co.nz/ for more information.
Want to know how New Zealand brews shape up compared with the rest of the world? Think that only European breweries make good beer with hops? Put your preconceptions to the test with the local Craft Beer College. They design blind tasting sessions for those wanting to match kiwi beers against their international counterparts. Expand your understanding or beer – the colours, the aromas, the flavours and styles while learning about the local beer history.
The fabulous range of drinking establishments in Wellington are seemingly endless. Hashigo Zake is one of the best underground ‘cult’ beer bars in the country. Staffed by a collection of moustached craft-beer enthusiasts and decorated in a unique Japanese-retro style, this bar is a one-stop shop for 200 different types of beer. It’s fitting given that the name “Hashigo Zake” means ‘pub crawl’ in Japanese.
Black Dog is another great place to drink down the far end of Courtenay Place. While slightly out of the main ‘party zone’, it’s a great spot for a quiet brew and the staff love to experiment with their different beers. If you’d like to taste a variety on tap, they do beer flights for $22.
Discover the Wellington laneways and one of the capital's favourite craft beer spots, Golding's Free Dive. Golding's has an ever-changing craft beer list from around New Zealand as well as a handful of international beers. Order a pizza from Pizza Pomodoro across the laneway and enjoy it with your beer.
If you find yourself slightly further up the coast of Wellington, visit the Tuatara Brewery and Tasting Room. Your afternoon of discovery comes in the form of a close up look at the raw ingredients used, a deep dive into the various styles of beer and an in-depth look at the brewing process from start to finish. Rub shoulders with these award-winning brewers and take part in “quality control”