Too many craft beer bars, too little time

Recently, I managed to wrangle a subsidised trip to Wellington to visit the many craft beer bars that are scattered around the windy capital.

Work was generous enough to shout my airfares and transfers under the guise of Adobe’s Creative Camp. That’s not to say I didn’t go, because I did, and it was great! But the biggest attraction for me was the plethora of craft beer bars that I was yet to visit.

It had been some time since I had lasted trudged the streets of Wellington and when I was last here my beer palate was a little less refined, so with bars like Hashigo Zake, Little Beer Quarter and Hopgarden now on my radar, I was very excited.

We arrived late on Thursday night and were staying on Tory Street, so the obvious option, five minutes after checking in, was the Malthouse. I had been looking forward to trying Tuatara’s new APA and the rumours suggested that it was on tap at Malthouse, so I ordered one of those with a spanish pizza and a glass of bubbles for the lady. Unfortunately I was to be disappointed, as the APA was out, so I hastily surveyed the taps and settled on a Moo Brew Pilsner. Not really what I was after but it was the first beer I could see that I hadn’t tried yet. In retrospect, it seemed silly of me to travel to Wellington for a beer and then order an Australian beer; I didn’t really think that through. The pizza was very tasty and Brooke and I were pretty taken by it, despite scepticism about a pizza with potato on it and no sauce.

Bill enjoys a Red Zone Enigma at Malthouse, Wellington
Money well spent on Twisted Hop's Red Zone Enigma at Malthouse

The next day we managed to return during lunch break and I got my hands on Twisted Hop’s Red Zone Enigma. The price caught me a little off guard ($25/375ml), but it was well worth every cent and I enjoyed each sip accordingly. At any rate I hope it helps get them back on their feet and brewing top notch beers again. So if you see a bottle anywhere, I would recommend you grab it. I would also recommend not having it on your lunch break, because at 10.5% I was almost ready for bed when I got back to Creative Camp.

Despite my sleepy afternoon, we had plenty of beer bars to get through and were planning on ticking two off tonight, Little Beer Quarter and Taphaus. We had decided to stop at LBQ for pre-dinner drinks and return to Taphaus for dinner, passing by Taphaus we noted the packed tables and queue at the bar.

At this point, let me just give a public service announcement; never leave home without your smart phone. My trusty samsung guided us down an out of the way alley where we discovered another packed house at LBQ. It’s good to see Wellingtonians have adopted drinking great craft beer for their after work drinks. The queue at the bar was worked through pretty quickly by friendly and efficient bar staff, even though the beer menu is quite extensive, which tends to clog up the ordering system. I got my hands on Yeastie Boys’s Red Rackham here, another great drop from the innovative award winners.

The crowds started to dissipate a little as I neared the end of my Yeastie Boys beer so we thought we’d make our break for Taphaus and see if we could settle at a table for something to eat. Taphaus’s corner location makes it very well lit from external lights and the interior is rather spacious with high ceilings. It’s how I imagine a German beer hall would look, only smaller, but maybe that’s just because of the spelling in Taphaus. At the bar, that impression gets reinforced again with a daunting 52+ taps to choose from.

My first choice of beer was knocked back again as they had only recently run out of 8Wired Superconductor. Damn you Wellingtonians and your good taste in beer. The bartender was helpful and offered up some alternate choices, which I ignored and went for another 8Wired option that I had never heard of before; Black Dwarf. This was a great beer and I see in my notes I wrote; “mmm… tastes like a long black with booze, a little like a black russian”. I don’t even remember the last time I had a black russian, so let’s call this beer, reminiscent.

Taphaus provides good sized dishes at reasonable prices
Cajun Chicken Kebabs at Taphaus, accompanied by Brewdog's Hardcore IPA

Taphaus was still pretty packed but it wasn’t long before a table freed up for us to grab a seat and check out the dinner options. The menu at Taphaus offers great value (I guess to leave more money for beer) and the servings were a very reasonable size for their price and good quality too. I ordered the cajun chicken kebabs, which had very decent sized chicken pieces and Brooke ordered a moroccan lamb salad which she said was excellent as well. I took advantage of the unexpected extra dollars left in my wallet from dinner and ordered myself a Brewdog Hardcore IPA.

And so, day two in Wellington came to an end with eight hours of Creative Camp under my belt and three craft beer bars ticked off. With only two days remaining, visiting them all seemed rather unlikely. Check back here tomorrow to see how far we got.

2 comments to “Too many craft beer bars, too little time”

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  1. Donna - 29 Nov, 2011

    I want your skull t-shirt, haha

  2. billofbeer - 30 Nov, 2011

    You might still be able to get those tees from Epic Beer, you might try contact them. Unlike the beer, they can still get the ingredients for the Hop Zombie t-shirt 🙂

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