09 December 2012

Craft Brewery Central

First stop on the south island, Nelson, NZ.  Most people pass through this town, but for craft beer lovers, it’s a stop that must be made, it has a craft brew trail after all with at least a few dozen breweries.  Places like Sprig & Fern and The Free House.  One place that I really enjoyed is Founders Brewery that is located inside Heritage Town and in addition to this “Main Street” feel, it has a bakery that makes fresh pizza using all fresh, local ingredients and was a very decent pie to eat with my beer tasting. 

Though my favorite night out was hanging at The Free House.  What’s really cool is that it’s inside a converted church and also has a Mongolian yurt outside used for events.  Now, The Free House is not a brewery, but carries several different NZ craft brews.  The employees there certainly know their beers and are great at making recommendations and letting you try the different beers.  If your taste for beer is anything like mine, which is that I have a deep love for Belgian ales and IPA’s, you’ll love Liberty Brewing’s Vespas beer.  So damn delicious!  Another sweet thing about The Free House is that you can bring in your own food or have food delivered there too.   So I just hung out there, drinking some damn fine beer, and listening to a little jazz trio play inside.

By day, when not busy drinking beer, Nelson has some lovely hiking in the surrounding hills.  It supposedly is the geographical center of New Zealand but even if it is or isn’t, I still enjoyed the hike up to it’s center point and being able to look upon the coast and the mountains. 

I really enjoyed my time in Nelson and would recommend it to anyone who loves food and beer.  While there isn’t a whole lot going on there, it’s not just some tiny town with nothing going on there.  There really are some great restaurants, bars, breweries, a night scene, lovely parks and some nice homes there.  All worth checking out for a few days.  But while Nelson may be a few things, it’s certainly big on beer.  And I love that.  

The Free House: 95 Collingwood Street, Nelson 7010
Sprig & Fern (two locations): 134 Milton Street (in a cute bungalow and next door to an amazing fish & chips place), 280 Hardy Street
Founders Brewery: 87 Atawhai Drive


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