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Breweries to Visit in New Zealand

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I'm headed to NZ (mostly South Island) for the Brew, Blues and BBQ Festival in Blenheim next week. I'll probably discover a couple of favorites while there, but I'm wondering if anyone thought that there are a couple of breweries or brewpubs that I should go out of my way to visit in the flesh?

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  1. I've had two extended stints in New Zealand, so maybe I can help.

    As a devotee of flavorful microbrews, I found NZ fairly tough-going, beer-wise. However, I *loved* the Shakespeare Tavern in downtown Auckland. It's on Albert Street. All their brews were good - and I *LOVED* their Pistols Old Soldier and King Lear ales. Both were strong, dark ales -- and both were so delicious that I couldn't leave the tavern without buying a flagon of one or the other to take home. The owner proudly told me that the late, great Beer Hunter, Michael Jackson, gave both brews high marks -- and it was not hard to believe. I actually miss both beers quite a bit.

    I tried many bottled Kiwi and Aussie beers while down under, and only two truly impressed me: Speight's porter (their other beers were boring; but they really nailed the porter); and Mac's Malt Mac, a strongish (by NZ standards), smoky, Cascade-hopped Scotch Ale.

    I could not find a good stout or IPA down under. The so-called IPAs I tried there tasted more like milds to me; they had low-to-nonexistent hopping, and very low (4 - 5%) ABV rates.

    If I visit NZ again, my first stop will be the Shakespeare.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Kenji

      Thanks for the heads up on Shakespeare. I have but one night in Auckland before continuing on South, so I'll try to check them out. I know there is another Brewpub in town there as well that starts with an A, the exact name is eluding me at the moment.

      As for your stouts quandary, I had Emerson's while I was in Melbourne in March and thought it filled the void quite nicely. I don't remember the exact name, but I know that their Bourbon Porter is remarkable as well and stands up extremely well to American versions of the style.

      1. re: nyctreal

        Well, there once existed in Auckland a brewer called Australis which made -- according to Michael Jackson -- some fine interpretations of Imperial Stout, IPA, and Abbey Ale. I was eager to try each of them. But by the time I last made it to NZ, Australis was history.

    2. I've only had one beer from New Zealand the Baroona Dark Ale from the Waiheke Island Brewery. Excellent!

      http://www.waihekebrewery.co.nz/

      My former next door neighbor and now a resident of Waiheke Island, an island off Auckland brought me back a six pack on a visit. I contacted the brewery and alas they had no way to ship to the States. It was very good.

      1. Every beer I tried (a dozen or so) in NZ were good to great! You're gonna have a blast.

        One brewery that may be worth a side trip for is Tui on the North Island. It's a big brand, but they have a great sense of humor, which they bring to their advertising and merchandising. Their web site gives you a sense of that.

        http://www.tui.co.nz

        Another good source of info on kiwi beer is:

        http://www.realbeer.co.nz

        Have fun! Kia ora!