As soon as I post this, some Nelsonsion is going to jump up and down, proclaiming that their region is New Zealand’s Home of Great Brew Bars, the Beer Capital, the Sunshine City and whatever else Nelson is claiming this week. Well, Auckland doesn’t have many craft breweries and it does rain an awful lot, but we’ve now got one thing going for us: three great brew bars. That’s right – three. Three great brew bars, each producing excellent beer, all within the limits of the Super City, each with their own character and each most certainly worth a visit.
First up is the institution of Glabraiths Ale House in Eden Terrace. Galbraiths is the older gentleman of Auckland brew bars, the well-dressed, vaguely English man at the bar who’ll politely buy you a drink, but you can trust not to get you into trouble. They’re one of the few cask breweries in New Zealand and their range contains some absolute stars: Bob Hudson’s Bitter is a regular favourite, sessionable and balanced with citrus notes; Bitter & Twisted is earthly and interesting, while the Grafton Porter is a personal favourite of mine, dark, coffee-ish and so drinkable. Galbraiths also have five guest taps that feature the stars of the New Zealand craft brewing scene. Whether it’s outside on the deck on a sunny afternoon, or inside on a cool night, Galbraiths is the place for awesome craft beer in the inner-city.
A little further a field is Hallertau Brewbar and Restaurant in Riverhead. You’d think being in deepest, darkest West Auckland, Hallertau would be the bogan cousin of the Auckland craft beer scene. Instead, it’s more like a surfie uncle: while generally chilled out about life, when it comes to his passion – boards, waves and beaches - the surfie is super-serious. Hallertau is the same; it has a lovely, relaxed atmosphere, but the team there take producing good quality beer and food very seriously. The food is simply stunning and the beer is even better. The Statesman Pale Ale is a fruity delight, Maximus Humulus Lupulus IPA is hop-tastic and the Deception Schwarzbier is probably in my top five favourite beers, deliciously dark and bitter. The only downside to Hallertau is that some poor bastard is going to have to drive; luckily, Hallertau have Minimus, which has a surprising amount of taste for a 3.8% and is my go-to beer if I’m the unfortunate sober driver.
And then on the North Shore, we have a new player – Deep Creek Brews and Eats. Open only a month, Deep Creek is much like the northern suburbs (young and raw) but is shaping up to be a great brewbar. The first thing it has going for it is location – the bar has frontages on both the main street of Browns Bay and opening up to the beach front playground, perfect for popping into after a stroll along the beach or a hectic play session (Deep Creek appears family-friendly). The space is open and airy, with brew tanks and fermenters adding interest along one side. You can order a tasting tray, with four of the Deep Creek beers and two guest brews for $22 and explore the new beers alongside some old favourites. My pick of the bunch was the Dusty Gringo, a malty masterpiece and I wish I’d had more than just a tasting glass of it. I also wish I could comment on the food – I’ve heard such good things, I think I’ll head back and sneakily update this page later!
So there you have it – three great characters offering brilliant beer and fantastic food – what more could a Super City ask for? If you’re a local, grab your mates and head out. If you’re visiting, put some time aside for a visit – it’ll make having to come to Auckland worth it!