I’ve been trialling this word for a while now: brewurism. It’s a clever portmanteau of ‘brewing’ and ‘tourism’.
For too long Wellington has been the poor cousin of the Wairarapa when it comes to alcohol-based tourism. But now our new crop of inner-city breweries and cellar doors are pulling in visitors who have been drinking Wellington beers around the country, and in some cases around the world, and want to see the source.
There is something to be said for visiting a cellar door. You chat to the brewery workers and get glimpses behind the scenes. At breweries this is more exciting than at wineries. The sheer number of beers each brewery makes means that you are more likely to stumble upon a brewery in full beer-making mode.
Even when there’s not steam and the wafting smell of boiling wort, brewing equipment fills the space as brewers tend to need loads of smaller tanks alongside their kettles, mash tuns and bottling (or canning) lines, leaving them looking like a steampunk’s dream!
Craft Beer College have been running their beer seminars and tastings for a few years now, educating the locals and raising their beer IQ. Recently, Stephanie Coutts has expanded their enterprise beyond the tasting rooms at Hashigo Zake, and now Craft Beer College offers Wellington beer tours.
There are currently two walking tours on offer: Cuba and Courtenay. These tours offer punters a chance to see breweries as well as doing flights of tasters at various bars. Moreover, by adding bars to the tour, the cellar doors aren’t pressured to provide food (as they do at many wineries).
The “Cuba” tour takes in Garage Project, Rogue and Vagabond, Little Beer Quarter (for lunch), Fork & Brewer and, finally, Golding’s Free Dive; while “Courtenay” takes in ParrotDog, Black Dog, Basque (for lunch), Malthouse and Hashigo Zake. The first tour took place earlier this year but CBC will be holding a Courtenay tour in April (see craftbeercollege.co.nz for more info).
Venue bars are a big new thing too. Not the awful branded Boundary Road bars that seem to cover downtown Wellington like a rash, but bars like Tuatara’s new Third Eye. This heritage building on Karo Drive has now been converted into a bar and micro-brewery. While Tuatara beers are available all over, The Third Eye offers something different, with beers brewed on site that aren’t available elsewhere. Along with their brewery tours up the coast in Paraparaumu, Tuatara is at the forefront of brewurism.
These new attractions — alongside wonderful festivals like the Greater Wellington Brewday (held in late February-early March) and Hopstock (on during April) — are bringing more and more beer tourists, and tourists who are simply interested in drinking good beer, to our beer capital.