Rustic, rural bars, cool, cosmopolitan bars and restaurants, and surprising venues, including a church and an old dairy factory, all feature amidst the diverse craft beer scene around Hamilton and the Greater Hamilton area. Waikato.

Good George Brewing

Good George is Hamilton's pioneering craft brewery.

Provided

Good George is Hamilton’s pioneering craft brewery.

From humble beginnings in the former Church of St George in Frankton, Hamilton’s pioneering craft brewery now has seven bars across the Waikato, and more bars and restaurants further afield in Auckland and the Bay of Plenty . Now known as Good George Dining Hall, the original high-ceilinged ecclesiastical space is ideal for weekend drinks – try the Fog City Hazy IPA with wood-fired pizza – or adjourn to Good Merchant in Matamata after visiting Hobbiton, or George’s Beach Club after bush walks and beaches around Raglan. In recent years, Good George has also succeeded in making award-winning cider and gin.

To see: goodgeorge.kiwi.nz

READ MORE:
* Become crafty on the Coromandel Peninsula
* Hop to it: Nelson’s must-visit breweries and brewpubs
* Small beer: Sip while sliding in the Haut du Sud
* New Zealand’s Most Scenic Craft Breweries

Contraband Brewery

Bootleg also serves beer to go.

Provided

Bootleg also serves beer to go.

Surrounded by the washed-out industrial vibe of the abandoned Matangi dairy factory, Bootleg’s bar in the rural outskirts of Hamilton might just be one of New Zealand’s coolest craft breweries. Standout beers include the Apehanger IPA and the Munich Helles lager, and there’s always a diverse range of seasonal and small-batch beers available on tap. Bootleg’s recent Fresh Hop season was brewed with hops sourced strictly from local Matangi farmers, while their Far Lap Imperial IPA is one of the hoppiest beers of 2022. Approach with caution… Local food trucks run from Thursday to Sunday.

To see: bootlegbrewery.co.nz

marvelous horse

Hamilton’s best cocktail bar is also a favorite spot for craft beer lovers. Vintage vinyl usually spins in the cozy brick-lined interior, and a concise selection of taps serves the best of Kiwi craft beers. Come the first Wednesday of the month for Wonder Horse’s popular Beer Club. Twenty dollars will get you a snack and tastings of seven different beers. There is no signage, but look for the unmarked door to the left of the Silver Spoon Chinese Restaurant. Wonder Horse is located about 20 meters from Victoria St.

To see: wonderhorse.co.nz

Craft

Take a detour down Victoria St to Hood St, the center of Hamilton’s bar and nightlife district. Fifteen rotating beer taps are at the center of Craft, often pouring local Waikato beers from Brewaucracy in Hamilton or Raglan Brewing Co. It’s also one of the only places in the country where you’ll find craft beers from Swedish craft brewers like Beerbliotek, Omnipollo and Poppels. Craft’s shared plate menu is significantly superior to most other bars. Try the sambal fried chicken with satay sauce or the snapper sashimi.

To see: facebook.com/craftbeerhamilton

Gothenburg

Gothenburg overlooks the Waikato River.

Provided

Gothenburg overlooks the Waikato River.

More Swedish craft beers and an ever-changing selection of local and New Zealand beers combine with other great shared plates in Gothenburg’s spacious, modern riverside location. If you’re driving, Brewaucracy’s 2.5% Session beer is a responsible option, and many of Gothenburg’s dishes are well worth the 90-minute drive on the Waikato highway from Auckland. Try spicy pork and kimchi balls with Urbanaut’s crisp Copacabana Brut IPA, or pair a sweet and sour beer with a cheese board that includes vintage goat gouda from Hamilton’s Meyer Cheese.

To see: gothenburg.co.nz

Brassaucracy

Brewaucracy has a bar in Te Rapa.

Provided

Brewaucracy has a bar in Te Rapa.

Originally sold in local Hamilton bars and restaurants, Brewaucracy’s first beers were launched around 10 years ago, but they now have their own industrial-style bar north of town in Te Rapa. Sixteen taps brew their own beers, always with an eye out for balanced examples of classic styles like warming American stouts or hoppy West Coast IPAs, and surprising guest brews could include barrel-aged farmhouse ales from the tiny brewery. Karamu Barrelworks of Waikato. Food truck tours and all-day vintage vinyl sessions are the highlights of the weekend. Check Facebook for what’s going on.

To see: brewaucracy.co.nz

Brewing workshop

From Santa Cruz, California to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, every good surf town needs a craft brewery, and in Raglan, Workshop Brewing ticks all the boxes. Beers like Raglan Pale Ale and Chop Hop American Pale Ale are available at local restaurants including Orca, Ulo’s Kitchen and The Shack, as well as on draft and in cans at their Park Drive bar. Among the more demanding seasonal beers brewed under the Alchemists Archive sub-brand is Starchy & Husk, a 9.5% Imperial Stout made with cocoa bean husks from Raglan Chocolate.

To see: atelierbrewing.co.nz

Hopnotic Brewery

Operating out of their rustic Woolshed Bar in Tamahere southeast of Hamilton, Hopnotic do a fine line in authentic beer styles. Their Munich Fog wheat beer channels a German-style hefeweizen while Czech Black is a dark pilsner, a beer popular in Prague but rarely brewed in New Zealand. For lovers of traditional Czech pilsners, Hopnotic’s Czech Dream is an authentic and tasty version of beers like Budvar or Pilsner Urquell.

To see: hopnoticbrewery.com

Stay safe: New Zealand is currently under Covid-19 restrictions. Follow the instructions on covid19.govt.nz.