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.)

Day 11 – Beers of Auckland – Endless Summer Pilsner

Beers of Auckland Advent Calendar 2014
DAY 11 – Endless Summer Pilsner by Shakespeare Tavern


Shakespeare Endless Summer PilsnerTAP: Endless Summer Pilsner

BREWED: On Site – Shakespeare Tavern

ABV: 4.2%
Today it was my intention to try Baroona from Waiheke Brewery, but it wasn’t on tap when I got to No 1 Queen Street (saving this for next week now). Next venue the Shakespeare.

I haven’t been to the Shakespeare since previous brewer Barry Newman passed away a few years ago. No one really talks about the Shakespeare anymore, so it has kind of been forgotten in my mind.

I had a quick small sample of the three beers brewed on site. I decided to get a glass of the Pilsner. It did remind me a lot of the beer that Barry use to brew. The quality of it seemed pretty good, but the hops aren’t as intense as I remember. It was bright, and looked good in the glass. The aroma was low. The beer has a slight grainy sweetness and good balance and cleanness. The lingering hop flavour though slight is pleasant. I’d happily drink another glass of this beer if I happened to be in the Shakespeare.

Ron MJ and Barry
Ron Urlich (previous owner), Michael Jackson (beer writer) and Barry Newman (previous brewer, RIP) 1999.

Barry’s passing was a loss to the local Auckland and greater NZ craft brewing industry. I think of him like our Richard Watkins, when he was at the Wig & Pen in Canberra. He always had something secret, fun, strong and interesting tucked down in the cellar. He won many awards, and made many inspiring beers.

Since it was lunch time I thought I better get a quick bite. I thought compare apples with apples, so I had the burger. OMG. This burger was $11.95 compared to the Galbraith burger the day before at $18.90. I can tell you I got more than twice the joy from eating the Galbraith burger. The Shakespeare burger – had the bun previously been frozen, or was it just old, as it was dried out and crumbly. There was extra lettuce, but the tomato looked like it had been precision cut with a laser it was so thin. Patty was not good. Amount of chips wasn’t very generous, then again it was a $11.95 meal in the CBD. The chips also tasted like they had been cooked in dirty oil. The only reason I thought about that was because yesterday a comment was made about how the Galbraith chips tasted amazing and must have been cooked in clean oil. The tomato sauce may not have ever been in contact with a tomato, it seemed just like red sugar sauce and flavourless

The over all feel of the place seemed tired and distant from its craft brewing roots. As I was sitting at the bar a guy came out of the pokies and asked for another glass of chardonnay.

DB has always had a connection with this brewpub as they helped set it up originally. Now you have to ask the question why does this place even have a brewery anymore. I am sure it is cheaper to buy beer in from DB than to make it. The beers on offer aren’t really that interesting, and not markedly different from the DB beers.

Based on this experience, where the beer wasn’t bad or interesting, I can’t come up with any compelling reason why you should visit, unless you are walking past and just curious to check it out. There is some great history in the building, but unfortunately the walls can’t talk.

They do have Tanqueray 10, which makes a lovely martini or G&T.

 

Craft Beer in Auckland

#craftbeer, #auckland, #newzealand, #shakespeare #adventcalendar

These links might help you find out what is on tap around Auckland

https://twitter.com/TapHunterAKLD
http://auckland.taphunter.com/location/
https://twitter.com/NowPouringAKL