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Jan 23, 2008 08:00 AM

Breweries to Visit in New Zealand

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!

      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.

        Another good source of info on kiwi beer is:

        Have fun! Kia ora!