Let’s go to The Hop, ooh baby

Saturday 21st of April, I awoke with the trembling excitement of a well-behaved child on Christmas morning. From midday, me and the lads would be out sampling tasty brews and rubbing noses with beer geeks from near and afar.

In case you missed the memo; the latest addition to Auckland’s burgeoning craft beer scene is The Hop; a pub crawl around seven Auckland bars that proudly support the New Zealand craft beer scene. This inaugural event was put together by Kate Jordan and I’ve gotta say; she did a bang up job.

Those ‘Hoppers’ who didn’t partake in the Hallertau session started their days at the well known and revered Galbraith’s Alehouse. We had followed the advice of other Hoppers by laying down a good foundation with breakfast and backed it up with lunch at Galbraith’s. Which worked out ideal as Galbraith’s offered a free beer with any meal as part of their support for the Hop.

By the time the Hoppers arrived from Hallertau, we were rearing to see the sights of town so we jumped on the first shuttle and made our way to Sky Sport Grill with an overloaded bus load of other Hoppers. With 40 beers on tap and the availability of jugs, it’s another good spot to have a chat and enjoy a bit of afternoon sunshine while we have it. After some arguing we settled on a jug of Renaissance Perfection, to enjoy while we planned our next maneuver.

It was at this point our group of Hoppers dispersed in different directions. Time was slipping by and we wanted to make sure we caught up with Luke of Epic, who was at Corner Bar from 3pm as well as see Ben Middlemiss who was showing Hoppers through the brewery at Shakespeare Tavern from 3-5pm. Decisions, decisions.

Not big fans of walking when we could be drinking, we decided that the most prudent course of action would be to grab a beer at AndrewAndrew while the sun was still shining and avoid having to walk back down later to enjoy their discount.

A pint of Armageddon later (and Hallertau Statesman for the boys) and we were back on the road again.

A FREE pint of Epic Pale awaited us at Corner Bar so we headed there hoping to have a chat with Luke as well.

While we were here a large portion of our fellow Hoppers descended on the bar and put the bartenders to the test. They handled the big influx admirably and with the free beers and tasters of Epic Coffee & Fig, we thought it best to stay for at least one more round while we chatted with the other Hoppers and matched faces to Twitter accounts.

We had run out of time to catch Ben Middlemiss at Shakespeare by the time we left but with the lure of $7 Dogberry pale ales (a beer we were yet to try) we headed there anyway.

Fortune was in our favour. Ben was finishing cleaning up and saw us admiring the mash tun from the bar and asked us if we were on the Hop and if we wanted a closer look. We were treated to the full tour and got to go inside check out the cramped spaces in their chiller and conditioning rooms. They certainly made things to measure for the tavern and it’s great to see it being put to use again.

The old bar underneath The Shakespeare Tavern is next to the brew room

Walking back down Wyndham Street we spied Spitting Feathers, and as we hadn’t been in there before and had heard good things we thought we would add it to our Hop. And besides, Twitter had already told me that Greig McGill had done the same thing.

Spitting Feathers had a huge range of UK beers, something that I haven’t been particularly privy to, but we found that it was a little too bright in there for our liking and headed on after an obligatory pint.

The time had come to wind up our Auckland pub crawl and make our way to the final destination; The Brewery Britomart, where a spread of finger foods awaited hungry Hoppers. The place was pumping when we arrived, helped considerably by the large group of beer enthusiasts who had just spent the last six or so hours wandering the streets of Auckland supping many a great brew and sharing their thoughts with like-minded individuals.

Converging with the rest of the Hoppers we compared pathways and tasting notes while we bustled for space around the food tables. It was a great finish to a fantastic day. Massive thanks to Kate for all her efforts, we can’t wait for the next one.

Listen to the soundtrack for this blog entry

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