Auckland’s 10 Best Craft Bars

Glasses of BeerAfter reading the blog post Auckland’s 6 Best Craft Bars from the new blog “HOPCORN” it got me thinking about the short comings of ranking based on a single personal experience as well as trying to compare many bars which all have a point of difference. I found this list of the 6 Best Craft Bars to be some what not that useful, as it didn’t address/highlight the unique things for each bars offer, that will attract different people.

Everyone is different, every craft bar offers something different, and every time you go back to the same place you are likely to have a slightly different experience, especially with so many taps with changing beers. (judging a craft bar with multiple changing taps on a single visit and they don’t have your favourite beer on tap is a bit weak).

So I thought I would not rank each craft bar in Auckland, but list what is best about each one. So maybe the title should be something like “The Best Of 10 Auckland Craft Bars“?

Listed by reverse alpha-numeric just to be different, like each of these bars are.

Vultures Lane – the slow transition from a tied Irish bar to one of the great craft bars in Auckland was frustrating initially (for me), but it has paid off in the end. An ever changing choice of beers, many evenings you can get multiple new beers going on tap. The food menu has changed several times, but currently offers some pretty amazing value for the food you get. On any typical day of the week you are likely to see a local Auckland brewer.

Sky Sports Grill – 60 taps, 40 different beers, 30+ are craft. It is like the forgotten craft bar in Auckland, as most people think of it as a sports bar, as it has so many TV screens, and every possible channel of sport playing. If you just look at it for craft beer on tap, it potentially has the best selection of craft beer on tap on any particular day in Auckland. Plus crazy pricing for happy hour on craft beer.

Lumsden Freehouse – it has possibly the best outdoor area in Auckland for a craft beer bar. This was previously a tied bar, but it made the jump overnight, huge commitment, which has paid off big. Biggest selection of Bourbons, possibly in New Zealand. Free popcorn. Great Nachos, Ribs, actually all the food I’ve ever tried has been great. It also has a secret build your own salad menu. Oh yeah and a pretty great selection of beers, that are always changing.

Hallertau Brew Bar – if this was closer to the city they would be overwhelmed by people, then again they already are and they are based in Riverhead. You basically sit in the brewery when you are at the bar. All beer brewed on site (wrong, there is a guest tap or two there). Super fresh beer. Cool food, the platters are awesome for sharing. Bit of a drive from the city but well worth the effort.

Galbraith’s Alehouse – this brewpub was so far ahead of its time, that the current generation of craft beer drinkers will have no idea of how tough it once was in this city. Brewpub. Real ale from a cask. Guest taps of some of the best breweries from around NZ. Maybe the best food at any craft bar in NZ (possibly even better than Pomeroy’s), on par with some of the best craft food I’ve eaten in the world.

Brothers Beer – this place exploded on the Auckland craft scene, with just about weekly tap takeovers. It now has its own brewery on site, own beers on tap, as well as a changing selection of craft brewers from around the country. Huge selection of bottled beers.

Brew on Quay – since becoming a free house in 2014 this bar has become what it should have been on day one. A solid selection of beers, some permanent and some rotating taps. 102+ beers in the fridge, always the best of what they can get their hands on. The chef here is amazing at what he can produce for a beer and food matched dinner. Wish I could hold and attend more of these just to taste his dishes.

blanc – this is an oasis in the dry west side of the city. huge craft bottled beer fridge, always something amazing on the FYO taps. and if you haven’t been to one of their Brew Fest’s then you should. They are currently the best mini beer fests in Auckland. Casual and you can chat with your favourite brewers for as long as you like.

Andrew Andrew – a cool name, for an interesting bar. doesn’t open till 4pm, but by that time of the day the sun is streaming into the semi-outdoor area. (it is kind of outside so smokers can kind of smoke). Craft beers on tap are all locally Auckland brewed. It’s always interesting looking at their Facebook page with photos of their customers, and to try to find one with a glass of craft beer. Any way they seem to have it right as they sell plenty of craft beer.

16 Tun – these are the new guys on the block. They have started solid with several taps dedicated to some of the best breweries, so you always knew you would have a goto beer if the rotating taps didn’t work out for you. Parking was cheap and easy to get (unlike many other inner city craft bars). Recently things have been kicked up a notch with the doubling of the number of taps. Food is pretty impressive. Chicken wings are SPICY good. Excited to see how this place goes.

Other Mentions:

There are other bars and restaurants around the city slowly adding craft beer on tap, and many more adding bottles to their fridges and menus. These other mentions are for bars that have only a handful of bars, but worth a visit to support their passion and commitment to craft beer.

Corner Bar – tiny bar with four craft beers on tap. The taps change very infrequently but it keeps the locals happy that stop in for a drink after work. Seems to be most busy after work.

My Bar – another tiny bar, four craft beers on tap and a good selection of bottles, and one of the better selections of spirits of a craft bar.

The Garden Shed – Mt Eden, next to the Belgian Beer Cafe. Only been once, beer selection great, and food was very good too.

I know there are several others, but need to finish this post up. I’ll get to you soon. No. 1 Queen, Conch, The Block, Malt, Golden Dawn, The Thirsty Dog, Grand Central….

Fallen behind the times mention:

Shakespeare Tavern – unfortunately this place has fallen from grace since the death of brewer Barry Newman, and the sale by Ron Urlich. Even though these two had a love/hate relationship, the range of 12 different beers made on site made it a must visit craft bar by tourists, craft beer drinkers and NZ Herald staff. If you visit and things have changed for the better please let me know.

(This post still needs some work done on it.)

blanc Brew Fest 2014

blanc Brew Fest 2014, Henderson Auckland

14 Craft Breweries

350 People

1pm – 7pm

25C Temperature

97% Humidity

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What a really nice festival. It turned out to be the perfect size venue, with the right number of people. People were really well-behaved, really interested in having a chat about the beer they were tasting, and generally there for a pretty nice time.

The brewers seemed to be having a good time too, with the crowd being a nice manageable size, so everyone got to have a chat with each other. Always fun when brewers catch up.

There seemed to be only about three security, who seemed pretty bored, they even tried some Culley’s Carolina Reaper hot sauce, which was much hotter than expected to their surprise.

It was kind of like having a bunch of mates over to try a few beers.

I’m going to say that maybe this is the beer festival of the future for New Zealand. The big festivals seem to be getting a lot of heat from liquor licensing and the police.

Maybe it was because of my expectations based on other beer festivals I’ve been to, that this one pleasantly surprised me.

If they do this again next year I will be first to put my hand up to attended, and first to tell everyone they should be quick to get their tickets before they sell our.

Well done and congratulations blanc.

 

(for some reason I can’t get all the photos to show up in the preview of this post, so I am going to just publish it. I will get better, as I become more familiar with WordPress) 

blanc brewfest bill board small

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[CHANGES] New blogs coming soon

This has been a pretty massive week, including I have changed blogging platform from Blogger to WordPress.

Since “Tasting Tuesday”….

 

Wednesday 19th February – Sam Snead’s House of Whiskey – Single Barrel Bourbon Tasting (special appearance by Epic Carolina)

Sam Snead's House of Whiskey - Bourbon Tasting
Sam Snead’s House of Whiskey – Bourbon Tasting

 

 Thursday – 20th February – Our first stag do tasting at Epic Beer HQ

Stag Do Tasting - Epic Beer HQ

 

Thursday – 20th February – Epic Carolina Hamilton Release – House on Hood (including hot wing eating competition)

Epic Carolina Hamilton Release

 

Friday – 21st February – Auckland Art Gallery – Five Maori Painters Exhibit Opening (beer supplier for the event)

Auckland Art Gallery - Five Maori Painters - Exhibition Opening
Auckland Art Gallery – Five Maori Painters – Exhibition Opening

 

Saturday – 22nd February – blanc Brew Fest (most popular beers for us, Epic Carolina and Coffee & Fig Stout)

350 people, drinking craft beer at blanc in Henderson - Brew Fest 2014
350 people, drinking craft beer at blanc in Henderson – Brew Fest 2014

 

I’ve found it hard to find the time to write blog post over the last few days. The spare time I could have spent blogging has been spent on moving the domain, setting up WordPress, and importing the old blog posts. There is still a bit of fine tuning to do on setup (and learning about WordPress), but I expect to be back into it in the coming week.