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As if there isn’t enough to love about Wellington, New Zealand – like the scenic landscapes and cool city vibes – we’ve got another reason: Wellington Craft Beer Bars. In fact, the city is known as the Craft Beer Capital of New Zealand – and for good reason. In the last decade, the city has seen a surge of local breweries start production and dedicated craft beer pubs have popped up all over the city center. During our stay, we navigated our way to the best bars in Wellington serving New Zealand craft beer.
Craft Beer Wellington
Seeking out craft beer in Wellington, New Zealand isn’t difficult…NZ craft beer is served at nearly every pub in the city. In addition to the craft beer bars in Wellington, we wanted to sample brews straight from the source – and there are a handful of city-center Wellington, NZ breweries where we could do just that. On-site tasting rooms – called Cellar Doors – provide a place to taste the freshest brewed beer in the city.
Wellington Brewery Tour: Craft Beer Trail
On a mission to discover the best New Zealand beer, we used the Wellington Craft Beer Trail Map (which can be downloaded here) to help guide the way. With three suggested Craft Beer Trail Wellington routes, the helpful guide leads thirsty visitors to working breweries, tasting rooms and numerous establishments with craft brew on tap.
In conjunction with the list, we used recommendations from locals (and brewers) to create our ultimate craft beer tour of Wellington. Rather than being rushed, we spent two weeks sampling suds from the top-rated New Zealand microbreweries. Visitors with less time may want to consider joining a Wellington Pub Crawl or Brewery Tour (find out more here!)
Craft beer in Wellington, New Zealand
Our recommended list includes both NZ craft from the source and the best pubs in Wellington. Because we prefer drinking direct from the brewery, we have separated our list into Wellington, New Zealand Craft Breweries and Craft Beer Pubs. For each place listed in our craft beer guide, we include a link to the establishment on Google Maps, as well as a link to reviews. At the end of the post, you will find a helpful map.
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Wellington Craft Beer Breweries
Our Wellington Beer Trail led us to four local NZ microbreweries where we could sip the latest production of brew on-site.
Black Dog Brewery Wellington
The Black Dog Brewery and tasting room quickly became one of our favorites – for both the fresh brewed beers and the relaxed brewery vibe. The bartenders are particularly helpful; we were offered a few samples of their selection (which includes both standard and experimental beers) before choosing.
Because Kris and I have similar hop-loving palates, we naturally favored the same brew and opted for a pitcher (or a jug, as they call it in NZ). Overall, Black Dog is a fantastic place to kick back and enjoy the beer. Map and reviews.
Garage Project Wellington
The Garage Project is a true success story of three guys who just wanted to brew good beer. Since their first location on Aro Street, the brewery has grown to include two other locations (and they are even dabbling with creating Wellington wines!). The original Garage is still an operating brewery – and open to visitors for samples and take-away beers (both in the bottle and by growler).
As we sipped the range of Garage Project beer on offer, the friendly staff offered advice on other must-try local brews, as well as a bit of history and politics about the Wellington craft beer scene. Map and reviews.
The first time we visited Parrotdog was when they had a small-operation brewery offering samples, single bottles and growlers. Expanding to a new location outside the CBD, the brewery produces their standard lineup of beers, as well as a range of experimental brews. The new retro-diner space offers a food menu alongside the beers. We recommend trying the BitterBitch IPA – it was the first (and in our opinion, still the best) Parrotdog brew. Map and reviews.
Fork and Brewer Wellington
The Fork and Brewer restaurant brewery aims to do exactly as its name indicates: pair good food with great beer. Guests enter the establishment via stairs that offer a glimpse into the brewing process, and in-use casks and kegs. The bar encircles a giant barrel that features 40 taps of Fork and Brewer beers – with room for a few guest beers, too. We liked the open space (with outdoor seating, too!), friendly atmosphere and unique bathroom décor.
It was difficult to choose a favorite at Fork and Brewer – there is so much to choose from! In addition to the draft beer options, there is a selection of bottled beers from notable craft brewers like 8 Wired, Epic and Hallertau. Map and reviews.
Craft Beer Bars Wellington
Our quest for good craft beer led us to some of the best bars in Wellington, NZ. The following were a few of our favorite pubs we stumbled into on our Wellington craft beer tour.
Little Beer Quarter
A hidden gem, Little Beer Quarter – or LBQ – is a must for beer lovers. The retro furnishings made it feel like we were hanging out at a friend’s house, but the beer-bottle-lights and brewery coasters hanging on the wall reminded us we were actually in a bar. The hip space is what drew us in, but the reason we kept going back was because of their excellent selection of craft beers. (LBQ is where I had my absolute favorite NZ beer: Hallertau Maximus Humulus Lupulus India Pale Ale…don’t try to say it after you’ve had one.) The small space also features a fun weekly lineup of events. Map and reviews.
Golding’s Free Dive
We dig dive bars…especially dive bars with craft beer on tap! The mish-mash décor – Christmas lights, Star Wars action figures and funky art – compliment the fun, chill atmosphere of the hole-in-the-wall bar where it is hip to be geek. And, as beer geeks, we were certainly impressed by the craft beers on offer! Map and reviews.
Pioneers in New Zealand’s craft beer scene, Mac’s has been around since the 1980s. Hailing from Auckland, the brewery has opened a slew of Mac’s Brewbars around the country – including one in Wellington wharf. We couldn’t resist checking out the waterfront brick warehouse tap room. With a focus on nature-made beverages, they offer a range of beers, ciders and sodas. Map and reviews.
Coco’s Bar and Grill
Featuring local and international beers on tap (and more in the bottle), Cocos has a little of something for everyone (including wine, ciders, whiskey and cocktails). The barstaff is helpful in recommending brews – and the menu features classic pub grub with an Asian flair. Map and reviews.
The Old Bailey: Monteith’s Taproom
A classic Kiwi pub, The Old Bailey is a taproom for NZ beer legend, Monteith’s Brewing – a brewery that has been in production for more than 150 years. Their classic beers include ales, pilsners and lagers, but their batch-brewed selections are more creative with several IPAs. Located close to the train station, The Old Bailey is a perfect first – or last – stop in the city. Map and reviews.
Petone Pubs: Speight’s Ale House and Queen of Jackson
Just north of Wellington is the small community of Petone, Speight’s Ale House tap room serves tasty brews from the Dunedin brewery in a tavern-like atmosphere – map and reviews. The Queen of Jackson is a chic spot that features a rotating variety of NZ craft beers, including favorites by Founders and Boundary Road – map and reviews.
Wellington Beer Map
More Wellington Breweries & Info
Try as we might, we couldn’t make it to every brewery in Wellington! These craft beer bars in Wellington also come highly-rated by fellow beer lovers!
- Hashigo Zake – reviews
- The Hop Garden – reviews
- Malthouse – reviews
- Roque & Vagabond – reviews
- Sprig & Fern – reviews
- Heydey Beer Co – reviews
- The Third Eye – reviews
Beer Prices NZ
One thing to note about microbreweries in NZ: the beer is not cheap. Pints cost upwards of $10 NZD – and we saw some taster trays for as much as $25. Happy hours are few and far between, but keep an eye out for them!
Beervana: Beer Festival Wellington
Beervana, the craft beer festival in Wellington, takes place in August every year. The festival features more than 50 brewers and gourmet food. Tickets – of which there are numerous options – go on sale in June. Stay up-to-date on information via their official website.
Tips for Visiting Wellington, NZ
Looking for more Wellington things to do (besides drinking beer!)? Check out our list of Free Things To Do in Wellington.
Where To Stay
During our visit to Wellington, we stayed in an Airbnb Apartment. However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center.
Our top tips for your trip
- Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
- We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- It’s easy to get turned around or lost in any new city! Be sure to have a good city map and/or guidebook prior to arriving.
- We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
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