Michael Donaldson
Jan 8, 2015 · 2 min read
Killarabbit is a rare beer find in Central Otago wine country. Photo: Fairfax NZ

I’m a big fan of the old saying that beer is best drunk in the shadow of the brewery.

It’s a way of saying, in days of yore, that beer didn’t travel that well. These days, as long as beer is kept cold on its journey, it should reach you in a pretty good state.

But this holiday period, why not use that old truism as a motto and try to drink local. The recent craft beer boom means that almost anywhere you go on holiday this summer, there’s bound to be a small, local brewery nearby.

To help you on this road trip, here are some starters:

Deep South: Riverton is one of New Zealand’s most stunning, under- appreciated beaches and you could say the same about Invercargill Brewery. B.man Pilsner is perfect for a summer day and the cider is top notch too.

Central Otago: It’s hard to find but if you can, hunt down some Killarabbit Double IPA from Bannockburn Brewery. It’s the only beer they make but it’s stunning: an unfiltered, unpasteurised, double IPA fermented and aged in pinot noir barrels.

Nelson: Talk about spoiled for choice! But make sure you get to Golden Bay and experience the joy of a fresh Captain Cooker at the Mussel Inn, or go to Mapua Wharf to visit Golden Bear and enjoy whatever amazing invention is on tap. Plus there’s the beauty of Townshend, New Zealand’s champion brewery, where I’d always go for a Sutton Hoo.

Hawke’s Bay: Wine country is slowly coming around to beer and Zeelandt, in Esk Valley, is fast becoming the flagship. Their Weissbier is perfect summer drinking.

Taranaki: Mike’s at Urenui has long been a Naki stalwart and is well worth the stop in or out of New Plymouth, but I was recently blown away by the beers from Brew Mountain. Pale Pat Supreme is the definition of a modern Kiwi pale ale, but don’t pass up a Blondini for easy summer supping.

Gisborne: Sunshine Brewery has always been dear to my heart. It’s recently been taken over but nothing says summer on the east coast better than a Gizzy Gold.

Mt Maunganui: The small town of Kawerau is home to a great range of beer from Mata. Tumeke, a New Zealand-style IPA, just bursts with flavour.

Raglan: It’s not exactly local but Good George in Frankton is close enough to this holiday hotspot. The spicy, tart and refreshing White Ale is an ideal sundowner.

Coromandel: Hot Water Beach has long been a premier tourist attraction, and now there’s a beer to go with that: from Hot Water Brewing in Whenuakite. Go for Kauri Falls Pale Ale at twilight and the Barley Wine towards midnight.

Michael Donaldson

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