Beer, food and culture...
just came back from a great trip to Wellington. I decided to do a 'road trip', with my dad.
Now I have always had a good time in Wellington. I have been there many times, dating back to the 1980's. It has almost always involved impromptu meetings or happenings that turned out to be blinders. Dating back to one of first visits in the late 80's, I stumbled along to the (then) Cricketer's Arms and saw 'Paul Kelly and the coloured girls', play live. I have always found Wellingtonians to be open, friendly and hospitable. This trip was no different.
I arrived (late due to a delayed flight) on the Wednesday and soon after proceeded along to the beer Mecca known as Malthouse and meet up with Neil Miller. We started off lightly with a Tuatara Helles, moved on to an Emerson's Bookbinder, 8 Wired's brown ale, PKB remix, then finished with an Epic Armageddon. All on tap and tasting as stunning as ever. The Bookbinder was a marked improvement from the bottled version I am accustomed to. I was glad I had the 8 wired, prior to the PKB, as I found the PKB to be a noticeable step up in taste and mouth-feel. The Armageddon was a huge hit to taste buds and did not disappoint.
From here we decided that some nourishment was in order and we set our sites on the iconic 'Green Parrot', around the corner in Taranaki street. Awesome steaks, good value and well worth a visit.
After spending half a day walking around our very own Te Papa, I developed a wicked thirst. Funnily enough, Hashigo Zaki is just a short walk away. Starting with an Emerson's pilsner to quench the thirst, we moved onto a Tuatara pils for a comparison. I must admit the Emerson's is hard to go past. It really is showing off the Riwaka hops very well and is even better out of the keg. Yet again we shared a table with some locals, having an after work drink, who were more than willing to talk beer, drink fine beer and share their points of view. One of the biggest impressions I got, for the whole three days (as far as beer drinking is concerned), is how many women are enjoying the taste of fine NZ beer. We were sharing the table with one guy and two other women. We had a really down to earth, intelligent discussion about beer. And, I couldn't help feeling both pleased and sad. Pleased that we have finally come so far, that in NZ we can enjoy some 'fine' New Zealand beer and talk about it at such a level, and sad that it doesn't happen more often and in more places. Still it gave me the warm fuzzies none the less. A short walk, down the end off Courtney place, on Kent Terrace is Capitol restaurant. We had searched this out on a recommendation and we weren't disappointed. Now, while in Wellington you always expect to bump into a politician. While here we sat across from a table that consisted of Labourites of the old and new guard, plus one known political commentator. I couldn't help wondering if this was a social gathering or something more? Still Michael got up and appeared to pay the bill, so it appears he is not too worse for wear, after falling on his sword?
Final day was spent going up the cable car and walking back through the botanic gardens. At this point I must add that the weather was very kind (for Wellington) for the whole time we were there. We actually managed to stand at the lookout and not get blown away, the sun shone and all was good. Final evening was spent at Malthouse and Hashigo Zake, catching up on a few I didn't manage the previous visit. I was most impressed by the Three boys IPA. It was poured from hand pump and really showed it was a beer worthy of being pulled from a traditional hand pump. It reminded me of old fashioned IPA's from England. Not overly carbonated but really fresh and hoppy and showing no deficiencies for not being force carbonated. Unfortunately I think it ruined the rest of the session, which included 3 boys porter, Croucher pale ale and an Anchor brewing ale (not in that order).
I truly believe that Wellington deserves the title of beer Mecca for New Zealand and as an Aucklander feel slightly embarrassed that we don't have anything that compares to these two fine establishments. Brew on Quay tried, but fails miserably, in my opinion. Two guest beers on tap and fridges full of over priced bottles, just doesn't cut it I'm afraid.
I'm hoping to change this in the not too distant future......cheers!