Region’s craft honed to perfection

Gorgeous mountainscapes, beautiful parks, history and rugby are just the start of what’s on offer in Taranaki. It is also an exceptional place for a special brew, writes Brett Atkinson.



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Urban taprooms in historic buildings, interesting brews from New Zealand’s oldest craft brewery, and tasty opportunities to match food and beer are all part of the Taranaki craft beer scene. Visit on July 1 and 2 to experience the Taranaki Beer Festival at New Plymouth’s TSB Stadium. Mike’s Brewery & Bistro Recognised as the country’s first craft brewery, launching just a few months before Gisborne’s Sunshine Brewing, Mike’s has been a Taranaki institution since 1989. Initially based 30km up the coast at Urenui, it is now well-established on New Plymouth’s main drag, Devon St. More than 20 taps pour Mike’s own beers and brews from other Kiwi breweries, and regular live gigs make it a hub for the city’s music scene. Hearty food includes steaks, burgers and seafood chowder. Try the interesting Melculambicus, a Belgianstyle sour beer infused with local honey. At 9%, it is definitely one to be sipped and savoured. Visit Shining Peak Brewing After stints as a garage, engineering workshop and used appliances showroom, Shining Peak Brewing took over New Plymouth’s 59 Gill St in 2019. Many of Shining Peak’s brews are inspired by local characters, so you will also be getting a Taranaki history lesson with beers like Fanny Fantham’s Lager or Dicky Barrett’s English Bitter. Shining Peak’s recommended beer and food matches include smoked brisket croquettes with the Highwayman American pale ale, and there are desserts inspired by beers. Try the Skunk Juice Hazy IPA and lemon ice block with honeycomb. Visit The Theoretical Brewer After launching in 2015, Douglas Eng at The Theoretical Brewer has crafted a big reputation for well-made and balanced beers. Brews including his Mad Hatter hazy pale ale and a coffee porter made with local organic roasters IncaFe´ are often available at Mike’s and The Hour Glass, or direct from Douglas at his taproom just north of the city. Plans for later this year include teaming beer and low and slow barbecue from The Theoretical Brewer’s Bell Block location. Visit Three Sisters Brewery Adding a funky sheen to the heritage bones of the New Plymouth Savings Bank building, Three Sisters’ urban taproom on Devon St is a cool spot to try some of the region’s most interesting beers. Recent brews include Lila, a juniper-infused witbier made with the distillers of Taranaki’s Juno Gin, and Soor Plooms, a pastry stout packed with zingy stone fruit. After a successful recent crowdfunding campaign the taproom and brewery is set to double in size, and also boost the expansion of Three Sisters’ food menu. Fourteen beer taps, and walls adorned with scores of beer labels, is evidence of the creativity of co-owner and head brewer, Joe Emans. Visit Forgotten 43 Brewing After a few years brewing in their garages, Taranaki locals Mike Selby and Caleb Robinson graduated to their rustic brewery and taproom on Stratford’s Broadway in 2017. Co-owned by wives Anita Selby and Linnea Robinson, it is a welcoming spot that is quickly become a popular focus for the heartland town. Beers to try include Lord Nelson pale ale, made with Nelson Sauvin hops, and Krakin Chilli, a warming chocolate and chilli stout. In an imminent move the taproom will locate a few doors along Broadway to a larger space on the corner of State Highway 43, the Forgotten World Highway linking Stratford via the self-declared Republic of Whangamo¯ mona to Taumarunui. Visit The Hour Glass Opened in 2013, The Hour Glass’ focus on partnering good beer with tapas has been attracting New Plymouth locals for almost a decade. The best of New Zealand beers feature on the bar’s ever-changing taps, currently including a few seasonal fresh hop beers, and a fridge is packed with other surprises. Ask if any beers from O¯ akura-based Coast Brew Co are available, Taranaki’s smallest brewery crafts beers named after surf breaks, including Rocky Rights and Graveyards. Visit Ms White Pizza and beer – what’s not to like? Especially when there are more than 40 brews available. Operating from the internal courtyard of the refurbished White Hart Hotel in the West End Precinct, Ms White serves wood-fired goodness with an ever-changing selection of hoppy options. Try the lamb and herb sausage pizza with rosemary, roast garlic and feta. Other adjacent eating and drinking options, include Itch Wine Bar and the Japanese-inspired Snug Lounge. Visit Liardet Street Projects Food truck eats combine with craft beers at New Plymouth’s Liardet Street Projects, a cool multi-cuisine courtyard space just off Devon St. Regular food truck attendees include Viet Nom Nom for Vietnamese food, and Dosa Express for Indian-style crepes. Gamma Ray’s combines burgers and grilled sandwiches. Also check out Rinsed, an on-site bar dispensing Taranaki brews from three rotating taps and a fridge full of beers from other New Zealand breweries. During the day, Rinsed serves the essential travellers’ combo of macadamia nut cookies and coffee. Visit Staying safe: New Zealand is under Covid-19 restrictions. Follow the instructions at