Beervana 2015

Beer Concourse

The queue builds up outside in the typical winter Wellington weather which you will feel on the way in but not the way out. The gates open and the crowds pour in to the Westpak stadium concourse. After a brief delay to pick up a glass and a tasting card the beer faithful are loosed on hundreds of beers from all over New Zealand and Australia. 

The setup is simple, charge up your electronic wrist band with cash and wave it with anything from sober confidence to a drunken thrashing and your wrist will be debited. It is best to keep things simple for hundreds of people going from beer to beer and so it goes with the sizes. 2 choices are presented: Taster, 75ml and savor, 250ml. From experience from years gone by the savor option is to be used cautiously with reverence for the mountain of beers available which one can not expect to get round in the 4 hours available. I personally went for a taster across the board in order to maintain a semblance of order about my person and to best appreciate the beers.


There are a huge range of styles available and the concourse (which appears to grow every year towards the ultimate full 306 degrees) is not ordered in any way. It is tempting to try to apply some logic to your drinking, this is unwise, ordering your beer will quickly become unmanageable so best to walk from one end to the other going with whatever styles take your fancy. Taking notes is something many do although they do appear to be the hardcore reviewers who are there for specific brews and make a beeline from one to the other. Most take a freeform approach darting from Weiss-beer to Bock to Stout and back down to Pale Ale.

All said and done you can expect to spend about $100 on beer if your really keen you might get through $150 NZD.  Beer prices vary but most Tasters are around the $2.50 mark and the savor are at the $6.50 - $10.00 mark. It really depends on what your after, some of the more serious 7%+ beers can go for $10.00 plus but given the amount you will be drinking staying up there in the high percentage range will likely result in a messy afternoon, or more perhaps more likely a forced nap. If you run out there are plenty of fixed and wondering staff to take your money and re-charge your band.

One of the best features of the house beers, (beers that are great but don't have the scale and funding for their own stand) is that you can find some real gems you have never heard of. Also the taps are colour coded from green through to red according to ABV so there is a handy simple reminder how drunk you might be getting as you order. 


It was always my goal to review beers at Beervana this year, alas it was not to be, one does not simply review fifty beers in 4 hours, nor is it possible to pick out an individual brew as the stand out, at least not to do that and get round the whole concourse for a real overview of what is on offer. Instead the event is a a fun reminder of the plethora of beer on offer in NZ, there are hundreds of brews on offer and each one has its own characteristics there were some memorable beers however.

ParrotDog's red ale was a highlight for me, having drunk it at the beginning of the afternoon I can say I remember it well,  a tasty red ale with a hoppy bitterness that I will be drinking again at home. For me the most strange an unusual award goes to No'8 Wired's Sour which was viciously sour and was definitely not for me. Other than those I have to say I vaguely remember some others looking back over the tasting notes but I was having way to much fun to do a deep dive on all the brews. 

Food is freely available and its good, everything from whitebait fritters to Yorkshire pudding is available. Just as well, one needs to soak up some of the beer at each stage of the day, an hourly snack is a must. 

In closing we left the stadium with a real appreciation for the range of beers on offer today and more than a warm glow ready to move on to the pub for what was a slightly less exciting pint. I highly recommend the trip to Wellington it is a great venue and event and Wellington is worth a trip in any case. So if your looking for a short break next August make the effort for a serious session at the Westpak Stadium. 

To sexy to drink?

It's no secret that I love design, art and branding. At the end of the day it's the industry I've spent most of my time. It's also one of the reasons why I love craft beer. The craft beer industry has opened up the traditional branding of beer to a whole new world. A modern, grungy, off the commercial track world. Craft beer design adds flavour and tone to the industry.

Below are some of the best designed craft beers I can find- MY TOP 5 - for the time being!  In a week this list will most probably be redundant - thats just the speed that this industry is moving.  


Forth Worth’s Rahr & Sons Brewing Company and Garland’s Lakewood Brewing Company have combined efforts to make a limited-edition beer called DFW: A Collaboration of Two Breweries.

The designer on this limited edition beer is Nathan Walker. Have a look below.. love how the illustration works across all the bottles.


It's hard to choose which of Garage Project's beer designs are best. All of them rock... and when i say all of them. I mean all of them! However these two done by Tim Gibson are awesome.

Poster design

Poster design


I've shared some of these shots before.. and there's a reson for it. 7 Fjell Brewery focuses on quality at every stage. The designs for their range of beer speaks to just this. Super smart. Super sexy. 


From the big to the small. Very small. Micro small. Once off small. Alexis Malin brewed this beer and designed this beer. Pretty impressive. I love the fact that it's a dark beer in a white bottle. 


Swee Ale, Summer Ale and Pacific Ale are a limited edition beers by BlackBay Brewery & CO. These designs are simple. Simply beautiful. Modern and sleek. Plus very Australian. 

19 Craft beer instagramers that will make you stand up and walk to the nearest pub.

I've spent the last month drooling over my phone looking through every instagram account with anything to do with craft beer. Now I've not just gone for the run-of-the-mil list here. I seen millions upon millions of instragrammers that just post an average shot of a beer with some weird 3 word referral as to what it takes like. MILLIONS!

The list below are not that. They have put thought into what their account is about. They offer something unique, something different, something sexy, something drool worthy and even something disturbing. They are the weird, wacky and wonderful of craft beer on instgram. 

NOTE: I didn't take that into consideration - content was king here. So in no particular order.

Crafty Drop
delivers craft beer to your door.
Find out more here.

1. Beer Yoga:  @beeryoga  

BEST BITS: Every mans fantasy. Learn about yoga and beer at the same time. Crazy copy cats.  

melbourne craft beer yoga
Sydney Craft beer
Auckland craft beer yoga

2. Beers with a view @beerswithaview

BEST BITS: See the best of the world + beer.  

Sydney Craft beer view
Melbourne craft beer view
Auckland craft beer view

3. MBEACH717 @mbeach717 

BEST BITS: Threatrical stop notch shots.  

Sydney craft beer sexy
Melbourne craft beer sexy
Auckland craft beer senxy

4. Louie Baton @louiebaton 

BEST BITS: Lego! Geeky and leaving you wanting to see more. 


New Zealand craft beer
Australia craft beer
Lego craft beer

5. The Beer Wench @thebeerwench 

Ashley V. Routson is a craft beer evangelist 

BEST BITS: Has a way with words(she's a author). Sandwich porn (she like food) Beer (She makes it) 

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 5.14.35 pm.png
Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 5.34.24 pm.png
new zealand beer

6. One nation under hops  @onuhofficial

BEST BITS: Thoughtful reviews. Amazing shots. I want that - merchandise 

Sexy ozzy beer
hops and barley new zealand
Hops australia

7. brewtographer @brewtographer 

BEST BITS: Sexy shots of craft beer. Beautiful shots of craft beer. Amazing shots of craft beer 

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rare australian craft beer
rare NZ craft beer

8. The beer Frontier @thebeerfrontier  

BEST BITS: Lovely shots. Good teacher. Honest ratings  

i love craft beer
NZ craft beer
Aus craft beer

9. Beer trucks @beertrucks 

BEST BITS: Design on the move. You want to spot one now.  

craft beers
crafty beers
beer trucks

 11. Draft magazine @draftmag

BEST BITS: Great shots. Intelligent reviews. Huge amount of good content. 

micro brewery australia
draft mag australia
Draft magazine australia

12. Good beer hunting @goodbeerhunting  

BEST BITS: Informative. Great shots. Well presented  

good craft beer
great craft beer
Ozzy great craft beer

13. Sort of candid @sortofcandid  

BEST BITS: Tiffany. Making craft beer even sexier. Fashion and drinking tips.  

north island craft beer
Sexy craft beer
NZ best craft beer

14. Beer advocate @Beeradvocate 

BEST BITS: Informative and a good eye into the world of beer 

cheap craft beer
South island craft beer
buy craft beer

15. Beer cap choppers @beercapchoppers 

BEST BITS: Beercycling - good for the environment. Inventive. Arty 

buy australian craft beer
Buy new zealand craft beer
Craft beer present

16. Craft Beer sucks @craftbeersucks

BEST BITS: Nothing. Nothing at all. But somehow I always watch these disturbing little clips.  

i love craft beer
Craft beer
Craft beer killer

17. Craft beer hat club @craftbeerhatclub 

BEST BITS: Hat porn. You’ll want to one. Fashion with a good cause. 

Craft beer hats
Craft beer club
craft beer subscription

18. Beer selfie @beerselfie  

BEST BITS: You could have your 15 sec's of fame. Something fun. People watching is great fun. 

Australian craft beer club
New zealand craft beer subscription
sydney beer club

19. Beer anyone @Beeranyone 

BEST BITS: Beer with a view. Great sights and beers from around the world. 

Wellington craft beer
north island craft beer club
Wellington beer club

The Perfect match

New Zealand's North Island's top activities right next to the finest craft breweries.

Earn your craft beer. Thats what this article is about. It’s about experiencing the best activities that NZ north island has to offer and then sitting down and drinking a golden crafty ale. It’s the best of both worlds. 

This list has been compiled by many many hours researching activities and of cause drinking craft beer.  As you can imagine finding craft breweries that aren’t smack in the middle of a major city like Auckland or Wellington can be a task. If this was a article about the best Auckland craft breweries that would be easy. But this list is special. It’s about getting out there and experiencing the north island. Seeing the amazing sites that it has to offer and then settling in for a few cold ones.

Below are the Top 6 activities crossed referenced with local craft breweries. In NO particular order. 

#1 Lake Taupo

Auckland craft beer

 Fly Fishing

Lake Taupo  is world famous for fishing and is one of the stand out features of the northern island. Here you are really spoilt for choice. Being a fly fisherman myself I would defiantly suggest a fishing trip out on the lake. The lake is steeped in trout fishing history. As early as 1887 brown trout were introduced to the lake. At one stage they had so many thou in the lake they had to put up nets to reduce the number. The Lake has produced some magnificent specimens over the years. For the real big ones you have to look way back to the early 1900’s, Budge Hintz described a fish from this time era as being so big they had to cut it in half to weigh it. 17kg  (37.51b). These  days the trout are smaller but by modern day global standards are still some of the biggest around. 

There are many way to fish the lake and it’s surrounding tributaries. I would suggest getting a local guide to show you the best spots. Although here is some info to get you started. 

January and February produce some great dry fly fishing.

For those that aren't interested in fishing there are still loads of options to keep you busy. River rafting, Float planes, Steamboats, bungy or just having a swim. Along the river running into the Lake is the Huka falls  Rated #1 of things to see in Taupo by trip advisor.  You can tackle the falls by foot or for the more adventurous you can get up close and wet on a river jet boat. 

Crafty Trout Brewing Co. (Taupo Brewery Ltd)

When it comes to wetting your whistle after your day of fun on the water you have two options. The first is a fairly recent addition and links to those people who like to fish. It’s called The Crafty Trout Brewing Co. They run an Austrian Alpine themed Bier Kafe. Serving pints, steins and glassboots, choose from 14 tap beers/ciders all handcrafted on-site. 5 metres from brewery to mouth! Off-licence also for a range of their bottled products or fill up your flagon.

Mineral waters formed through volcanic fire and glacial ice are brewed with New Zealand's finest hops, malts and yeast. Everything from a Taupo Pale Ale to a Hefe Weizen and even a smoky ginger beer.  

Crafty Trout are located here and are open Wednesday to Monday from 10 am onwards

Lake Taupo craft beer

Huka Falls

For those that are not so interested in fishing there are still loads of options to keep you busy. River rafting, Float planes, Steamboats, bungy or just having a swim. Along the river running into the Lake is the Huka falls  Rated #1 of things to see in Taupo by trip advisor.  You can tackle the falls by foot or for the more adventurous you can get up close and wet on a river jet boat. 

Lakeman Brewering Co.

Another option for craft beer is the Lake House Taupo. Here they serve a bunch of craft brews from all over NZ. They also feature one of the other local breweries - Lakeman Brewing.  These guys create beer from Taupo’s purest natural water and boasts malty, hoppy flavours. They have 7 beers, their top rated beer the TPA - Taupo Pale Ale. 

You can find the Lake house Taupo here 

#2 Rotorua

Roturua craft beer

Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest

This one is one of my favourite from the list. It’s been a dream of mine to see a magnificent Giant red wood. At Whakarewarewa Forest the redwood forest is primarily a productive plantation but it’s open to the public to enjoy by walking, cycling or even horse riding.  In 55,000ha you can loose yourself amongst magnificent stands of towering Californian Redwoords, lush native forest and exotic trees.

There are obviously  a few different options when exploring the red woods. There are two shorter walks.  One around half an hour and the other an hour.  You also have a few longer options. The longest walk is around 3 and a half hrs long and is 11.5km in total.  

If tramping isn't your style you can also bike around the forest. The forest is actually a Mecca for bike riding, with Red Bull rating the Whakarewarewa trails in the top eight in the world. There are so many different options here. So many I couldn’t even begin to break them down.  But you can find info here and here

Croucher Brewery: Brew pub

So when it comes to a nearby craft brewery you don’t have to travel far. In the town of Rotorua there is The Croucher Brewing Company. Now you can’t go to the distillery but they do operate there own pub called the Brew pub. - 7 mins away from the redwoods. 
These guys Paul Croucher and Nigel Gregory apparently started the brewery the after having a dual mid-life crisis and decided to take up the challenge of creating a craft brewery. They currently have 5 beers available, with a whopping 10 seasonal/ speciality beers. Their 5 core beers have all picked up awards. They have pilsner, pale ale, American  black ale, IPA and a low alcohol IPA. Their IPA is called Nuclear free and packs a punch at 7%. I guess thats why they made a low alcohol version at 2.7%. 
The Brew pub itself is grown into one of the best craft beer pubs in NZ. #7 in Top 10 New Zealand Beer Venues 2014. So you know they aren’t messing about. The nice thing is as well as having all their current beers on tap they do bring in other NZ craft beers. So there’s always lots to choose from. 

#3 Hastings


Cape kidnappers

If you are a twitcher you will love this. How does getting within a few feet of the world’s largest mainland gannet colony sound? 

The Cape kidnappers(Strange name)  is a headland at the southeastern extremity of Hawkes Bay and sits at the end of an 8 km peninsula which protrudes into the Pacific Ocean. It is 20 km south-east of the city of Napier. Access to the Cape by road stops at Clifton where located at the beach reserve you'll find a motor camp, a shop and a popular cafe. A popular way to see the Gannets is by taking a family friendly tractor ride with Gannet Beach Adventures. (Don’t worry - the trailer has cushion seats) Travel along the ruggedly beautiful coastline of Cape Kidnappers whilst learning about the geology of the area from one of your fun friendly guides. The tour allows for an hour and a half at the Cape so plenty of time to view the Gannets and enjoy a swim or picnic at the beach. But please check for the months when the Gannets are going to be there. The best time for viewing the gannets is between early November and late February. Nesting commences in mid-September and continues through to mid-December. The first chicks hatch in the first week of November and the last chicks depart the colony during May for their migration to Australia.


Roosters Brew House

So if you are lucky enough to get to see this natural spectacle you’ll defiantly need a crafty pint after. There are two options for you. 

The first is Roosters Brew house which is half an hour drive. Roosters makes it’s beer the natural way. They follow the laws that were set out by a German Monastery in 1536. Nothing but malted grains, hops, yeast and water goes into their beer. 
They have 5 different beers for you to getting involved with. A lager, a Golden wheat, a dark, a draught and a beer called the Haymaker, which is 7%. So watch out for that one. 
Their Lager and dark beer have picked up numerous awards. Their dark seems to be a firm favourite being voted NZ’s best dark beer in every comp they have entered it into. So not a bad one to try. Roosters is open 10 am till 7 pm Monday to Friday and 2 pm till 7 pm Saturdays

Hawkes bay craft beer

Cape kidnappers

Another way to get down to the gannets is of cause by walking. From Scotmans Point at Clifton allow at least 5 hours for a comfortable return walk along the beach. This can only be down at low tide, with the best times of departure being no sooner than three hours after high tide and departing from the Cape no later than 1.5 hours after low tide. You don’t want to get stuck when the tide comes in. 

Hawkes Bay Brewing

Your second option is Hawkes Bay Brewing company, which is about 20 mins drive from the Kidnappers. You can’t go the brewery itself but right next door to the brewery is a place called the filter room. 
The Filter Room Ale & Cider House has a tasting room which features Hawkes Bay Brewing's entire range.  That covers their traditional range and their Cuisine range. These guys were the first brewery in NZ to put beer into wine bottles and create a exclusive and original Cuisine range. The bottles just look amazing and really add to what they are producing. Very unique. 

Also their Black Duck Porter beer has recently picked up a gold at the Brewers Guild Awards.  It’s brewed with 5 different malts in a 18th century London style, with an extended maturation process.

Another local favorite is their 4% Ginger Fusion beer which is infused with mandarin.

It is also great to see is that these guys produce a non-alcoholic ginger beer. This is something that we at Crafty Drop like to see. We feel that  the non-alchoholic Craft Beer space needs more growth. 

#4 Whangarei


Craft beer rings

Adventure forest

Adventure forest. Now that sounds utterly amazing or very very cringe worthy. Well at least that's what I thought when my friend sent it through to me. Because either it’s going to veer on the overly crowed,  organised fun Disney world or it’s actually going to be an actual experience. Now I can’t vouch for it myself and say its the latter but the friend that sent it to me. He can vouch for it. He’s a 29 year old beer drinking, beer brewing father with the mortgage and all.. and he enjoyed it! Looking at some of the shots from their website I can understand why. 

Also found this on trip advisor
"This was a great experience that I would highly recommend to others. We had an awesome time playing in the trees, feeling like monkeys. This was the highlight of our trip up north. We will be telling all of our friends about it as it was a great activity. Thank you very much."

Adventure forest is place where you can experience a journey through the tree tops. You cruse along high wire circuits packed with thrill and action. They have tight ropes, swings and flying foxes. The nice thing you can bring the kids along as they have track for them as well. 

Usually it will take about 3 hours to complete the tracks. The adventure forest is open weekends 10 am to 5 pm. You need to book if you want to go during the week.

The Brauhause Frings

The Brauhause Frings is about a 15 min drive north 

Their beers are chemical and preservative free. They have a lager and draught and an Old Ale. The lager is as you would expect the favourite, but it’t the Old Ale I would give a go. It’s not like your normal dark beer that taste like coffee. Frings spent a long time craft this one and it’s well worth it.  If you are lucky to be there on a seasonal beer day you’ll learn about things like  "Wheat-Dreams" "Orange-Roughy" "Holy Smoke" 

They seem to have a lot going on at this place so have a look at the calendar to see which night or day you want to pitch up, but i think you’ll be in for a party no matter what day. For instance they have live music 5 days a week. They also specialise in woodfired pizza. 

#5 New Plymouth

New plymouth NZ craft beer

Coastal Walkway

So here you have two options of activities. One I would classify as mild, gentle and more of a Sunday stroll. The other rugged, extreme and more of a Sunday, Monday and Tuesday hike.  So I guess it comes down to how much you want to weight the activity side of the day vs. the craft beer side of the day. 

The New Plymouth coastal walk is a gentle walk along the coastline about 12 km in all. It's a well looked after path and can be cycled, strolled, meandered or conquered any way you like. Perfect for the kids and wheelchairs. It does get windy so be sure to take a jacket or two. The only problem with this is creating a loop to get back to your car. Although I guess you could do a back and fourth type thing. If that's the case I would start and end of the east side of the track at Hickford park and work your way west before turning back. OR... if you got dropped off on the west side. You could start at Port Taranaki and make your way to Hickford park. The reason why you want to end at Hickford is from there you only have a short 25 min drive through to Mikes organic Brewery. Click here for a map 

The Hourglass

Another option for doing the New Plymouth coastal walk which does’t require you have a designated driver. Is to start off at Hickford park and and walk west for 1 and a half hours. About 7.5km’s through picturesque farmland and the Fitzroy golf club  until you reach the centre of New Plymouth. There you will find a fantastic little pub called The Hourglass. Route map here

The hourglass has won  awards for outstanding bar, outstanding bartender and outstanding host. So you know they aren't messing about. You also know they aren't messing about because they have 86 different types of craft beer! Now that's a good number. 

They're open from 4pm till late Tuesday through to Sunday. 

Mt Taranaki craft beer

Mt Taranaki

Now if you think I casual stroll along the coast is not enough to earn you your beer, you could always tackle Mt Taranaki. It’s about an hours drive away from New Plymouth.  It’s actually a volcano. An Active volcano! Which just sounds scary and amazing at the same time. At 2518 meters high it’s no Sunday stroll. The walk or should I say hike is about 5-6 Hr’s up an about 3-4Hr’s down. The track up to the summit can be broken in two if you want to tackle just the first part of it. This is the 1 - 2hr walk from North Egmont to Tahurangi Lodge (1,492 m) you can then decide to carry on to the summit (2,518m) which should take another 3-4 hr’s. You can find more info here  and a “Map” more like brochure here

Mikes Organic Brewery

Mikes is a highly awarded brewery and pub that has been open since 1989, which makes it a very well established. In 2000 it received it’s Organic certificate and has a wide range of organic beers. Looking at their site, 18 in total. They have some really interesting beer with some really interest ingredients. How does Strawberry Blonde, Chocolate Milk, and Vanilla coffee sound. Not to mention they have a tasting room and beer garden. 

# 6 Wellington

Hutt valley craft beer

Rimutaka Cycle Trail

This trail has been voted by Lonely Planet as one of the hottest new tracks to cycle. It’s a 115 km trail along beaches, across creeks and ancient Maori settlement sites. It’s a unique landscape visibly shaped by millennia of seismic upheaval.

The ride loops through urban and wild terrain from Petone over to neighbouring Wairarapa and back to Orongorongo in Wainuiomata. It's mostly graded easy, with some intermediate sections, and can be ridden in two to three days.
Now I’m not suggesting you do the whole trail as that would leave little time for enjoying your earned craft beer. A smaller part of the Rimutaka trail is the The hutt river trail. (info here) If you do this trail backwards, starting just outside Te Marua (map here) 
You could ride down towards Lower Hutt and ultimately to Queen of Jackson

The Queen Of Jackson

This is a not a craft brewery but it does hold all the local stock and is the nearest thing you'll find to drinking straight from the barrel. Unfortunately the local craft breweries don't double up as pubs but what they do do is make some mighty fine craft beer. The bayland brewery  being one of them. One of the stand out features of going to The queen of Jackson is a thing called Karma Kegs on a Thursday. “At 4o’clock every Thursday we tap on a keg of locally brewed beer! Punters at Queen of Jackson pay whatever they reckon is ‘karmically fair’ for each pint of beer until it’s all gone, and we donate he lot to a nominated local charity!” Now that sounds awesome.



Galbraith's Alehouse


Most native JAFA's (Just another F**king Aucklander for the uninitiated) will know Galbraith's as the watering hole for a good English pint. Firstly let me say that you are going to get an emulated English pint, which is not to say the beer is poor but that in despite the best efforts of the Galbraith team it takes a leap of imagination to really stand up and say, "this bitter tastes like the real thing" close but no cigar (we think its the water). That said however there is a huge bevy of variety available on tap from the delightfully drinkable "Bob Hudson's Bitter" to the more weighty Crucifixion (let me assure you the name is somewhat accurate after a few the only difference is the nails and the orientation). The beer brewed on site is a delight and will keep you busy if your just dropping in or setting up camp for a serious session. If your feeling adventurous and you have made your way through the Galbraith's offerings, also available are a constantly rotating series of guest beers from around the world. 

My favourite pick has to be the Bellringer's Best Bitter because it comes so close to replicating that English mouthfeel and aroma. Bellringer's is top fermented in a way which provides just the right amount of those ever important esters. Another big win for the Bellringer's is that it is served at cellar temperature meaning the flavour is free to escape. Too often good beers are ruined by serving them too cold, a common antipodean issue.

So you find yourself in Auckland and your parched, looking desperately for a place to stop for a beer and without choice you find yourself crying into an over priced glass of Stella... We have all been there and it is tragic. 

But worry no more Crafty Drop to the rescue, here begins the start of a series of articles looking at the best craft beer spots from around the country, you need look no further. First off the ranks is Galbraith's Alehouse, a must for any weary traveller. 


Each beer at Galbraith's  has its own unique character and the quality of the brews stands out as some of the highest in the region.

Finally Galbraith's  offers something that is hard to find elsewhere, and that is that quintessential pub like atmosphere, with walls lined with trinkets and nic naks you will be able to relax and fortify in the perfect venue for beer.  

Bitter Addendum

We spoke to Galbraith's and they contested that there beer is as English as you get.

"Just so you are aware, we source all our hops, malt and yeast form the location of the style we are brewing. we have the only whole cone importing licence and this gives us a distinct advantage in the cask ale game.

We also alter the hardness of our water and adjust the mineral content to replicate the water used in these styles. I would say you would be hard pushed to find a better example of english bitter anywhere in the country and if you ask our pommy regulars they will tell you that is the reason they have been frequenting our pub for 19 years."

Well I am not going to argue with that. It could well be I romanticise the nights spend in old pubs in the U.K. far too much to be objective. I have to say Galbraith's is the best bitter I have ever had in New Zealand.  What we need is a controlled experiment, so if anyone out there is getting on a plane with a few kegs of English bitter let us know and we will do a blind taste test and see. In the meantime though go find out for yourself! 

Getting there

Galbraith's site: www.

Crafty drop rating - 8/10

Thank you to Galbraith's for the rights to the above photography.


For the children!


Brewery: Sail & Anchor 

Beer: Boa’s Bind

Style: Amber ale

Origin: Fremantle, VIC, Australia

Alc. Vol: 5%

Bottle Vol: 345mL 

Standard Drinks: 1.4 

Approx price a bottle (AUD) : $ 4.00




My favourite beer when I was a Londoner was a little tipple called Winter Warmer. It was a beer that only came out for a few months a year. Grown and brewed up the road in Kew Gardens, it was only available at a few pubs around where I lived. Being my favourite ale, it gave me the best excuse to visit my local at every spare moment. Waiting and watching to see if it would be on tap. This of course was to the dismay of my then girlfriend, now wife. But you can't argue with the reasoning. "Babes, it's a once in a lifetime (year) opportunity. It could be on tap today and gone tomorrow. I would never stand between you and your love." A bit dramatic, but you get the idea. And, funnily enough, I find myself in the same situation now. But it's much much better. Because I have to write craft beer reviews for Crafty Drop, I'm forced to go to local craft beer stores at every spare moment. "Babes, all I'm saying is, this is my job. It's not like I'm willingly going into every craft beer store and buying beer. It takes dedication to taste all this beer. All I'm trying to do is create some sort of future for my family." Again, a bit dramatic, but you get the point. 

Well today, in my building-a-future-for-my-children job, I'm tasting beer that reminds me of that London Winter Warmer. 


Craft beer

Boa's Bind is dark ruby in colour with speckles of golden. As I pour it into a glass, I find myself swirling it around lightly. Why I am swirling it? I have no idea. Then I realise. It looks like a really expensive cognac. And as I swirl it, I can see its red heart pumping within. It may also remind me of an expensive cognac because I'm drinking it out of my beer glass which, funnily enough, come to think of it, might actually be a cognac glass.  I move on to the non-common Crafty Drop common practice and match it up to my Pantone book. Pantone solid 1675 it is. 


Thick creamy, coffee sweet, dusty candy.  Let's not beat around the bush. That sounds great, nearly as great as it tastes. It's a little bit of stout. In between a lager and a Guinness. Has a lush and giving sticky after taste. It reminds me of sitting in an English pub, shoes sticking to slightly we-will-never-admit-that-it's-actually-damp carpet. I can smell the fireplace, I can hear the chatter. Yes, this beer reminds me of my favourite tipple. Not only that it's a very giving beer. It's giving 5% right now. I can feel that lovely warm feeling rising to my head and my heart.  

All I can say is that I miss my English ales. I miss them very much. But at least there is a glimmer of hope now. A sparkle in the distance. A slight silver lining. I might have to test this one again. For the children, of course. 

A pork roll, mustard and The Duck's

The Duck Matilda bay

As chief craft beer connoisseur I take my job at very seriously. I therefore thought it best that I clean my palette with half a pork roll and some mustard  before I take on Matilda Bays - The Duck's.

Charlie inside my head: Tom thats not how you do it!  Yes - Charlie you are right. But my thinking is that why shouldn't I, I mean when we drink beer we drink it involved in life. That means we are chatting to people, we’re poking the BBQ, we’re on the beach and we’re most probably eating a bowl of fries with Aioli sauce. I think beer needs to fit into our lives and therefore I think when we taste and drink beer it needs to compete with flavors that surround us. Well at least that's what I’m telling myself because I really want to eat this pork roll and drink some beer.

The look:

The Duck matilda bay craft beer

It carries a solid colour, just off center golden darkish brown. I would say Pantone 138 to be exact. Yes I match the colour. I'm taking this job seriously

Visibility or Opacity: "Not clear" In diving terms I would say you have about 4.5 meters of clarity. 

The taste:

So I sit back with my pork roll put on the cricket and think why the hell did they call this beer The Duck's. Does it have something to do with cricket - Must have. Do you think when you taste this pale ale it's like the feeling you get when you bowl the oppositions star batsman out for a duck?  The elation, the self believe, the crowd cheering after you “How brilliant you are. Take a bow” Wow - what a beer!  Or is it the opposite. Does it bring on the feeling of being bowled out for a duck. Being the star batsman that's just been bowled out for no runs, no runs at all. The star batsman that has to take long walk of shame back to the dressing room whilst the duck character goes mad quaking around on the big screen. 

I Take my first sip and immediately I can taste hints of mustard and pork roll. Strange start. Then I take a few more sips. Let the beer clean my pallet, let the beer wrap my taste buds and command control. It’s not a strong beer, but it’s not a light beer either. I think they call that medium bodied. It holds itself in your mouth with a slightly rounded thickness and texture. It has substance to it. A substance of hops, cinnamon and maybe even a little orange. Combine that with an aroma of honey, it delivers a husky sweetness to your  palette. With a fresh and crisp after taste it reminds me of walking out of the house just after it’s rained.

That renewed, clean and crisp feeling. I guess in a way it might just relate that feeling of bowling that star batsman out. It’s a sense of accomplishment - now onto the next batsman the next sip. It’s new beginnings, the sun popping its head out after that down pour.  Okay so not sure that link works particularly well but what I’m trying to say is that this beer is  on the side of the successful bowler than the failing batsman.  

Howzzzaaaaaat!?:  My finger goes up. It's a duck. 

Big Head

Vital Statistics  

Brewery: Burleigh brewing co. 

Beer: Big Head - no carb beer

Style: Pale

Origin: Burleigh heads, Queensland, Australia 

Alc. Vol: 4.2%

Bottle Vol: 500mL 

Standard Drinks: 1.1 

Approx price a bottle (AUD) : $ 4.00

Tasting notes

You have to invest
a little tongue time


The first thing I see when I look at Big Head is not the colour of the beer, but the awesome looking bottle label. I think with a label this funky it demands to be spoken of first. Let's be honest, that's the first impression, but then you see something that has an even bigger impression. You notice the words "no carb beer" no carb beer? Do my eyes deceive me? Now these words can mean one of two things. 1: this beer might not actually taste like a normal beer and you'll never drink or speak of it again, shunning it, banishing it from your existence for the rest of time. 

Or 2: this beer, against all odds could actually taste like a normal beer, it could open up the holy grail of drink a six pack whilst keeping you're six pack. Isn't that what no carb beer means? Could I drink to my heart's content whilst not having to run 5km per sip of beer to work off those excess carbs. 

Oh yes: the colour of the beer is golden. Beautifully golden.


So I guess I should explain something here. This tasting template was created by my good friend Charlie Cooper who does a few reviews on the crafty drop blog. I can hear him saying to me that I need to explain the smell of the beer. That smell accounts for 97.3521% of the taste of the beer and is very important...etc etc.

But as you most properly have guessed I'm not as well versed in the beer reviews as my friend Mr Charlie. What I can do however is give you the normal, everyday lament mans view of a beer. So no big words, no fancy descriptions, just the flawed impression of what I think about the beer in question. So with that said I'll say the smell of this beer smells like is beer.

Taste and Overview: 

So I guess this is where we get down to brass knuckles. Is it number 1- does it actually taste like a normal beer or is it number 2- do you think you're drinking stale water. 

To put it simply, it's  number 1.  I must say I was surprised. It does really taste like a fully rounded beer. Although not at first. What do I mean by that? Well this beer isn't going to stand up and slap you in the face with texture and taste. It's one of those beers you have to invest a little tongue time in. Let your taste buds coax and caress the taste out of it. But when the taste appears and comes forward it's buttery, smooth and silky. I reminds me of drinking a Chardonnay in the hunter on summers day with a hint if freshly cut grass. Not the first thing I would think of for a craft beer, but then it really suits this beer. It does it in a hopsy way, a real beer way. I think this beer is true to itself. It's not trying to be something it's not. At the end of the day it's a 'no carb beer' that actually doesn't leave a horrible after taste in your mouth, although it's on the light side of the scale, it's on the right side of the scale for what it is. I think that's pretty impressive and smooth. Just like its taste. 

On a Wire

Vital Statistics  

Brewery: 8 Wired Brewing Co.

Beer: "The  Big Smoke" 

Style: Porter  (smoked) 

Origin: Blenheim, New Zealand

Alc. Vol: 6.2% 

Bottle Vol: 500mL 

Standard Drinks: 2.5 

Approx price a bottle (AUD) : $ 12.00 


Tasting notes


The Big Smoke is Black as Black, so much so that taking photos in the bottle and in the glass, resulted in mirror like reflections. It has a solid foamy head,  sandy in color with plenty of lacing. 


A smoky aroma hits you straight away  with a  rich caramel and plum hint. 


This beer is dominated by its smoky ashy hit but underneath there are  significant notes of roasted  coffee and chocolate. A sticky molasses sweetness is evident throughout ending in  a touch of bitterness. 


Lightly carbonated, solid, smooth and lightly oily.


It's a porter Jim but not as we know it! This smoked porter from No 8. appears a strange creation at first blush, but believe me its a clever twist to an old favorite. The brew contains a dose of  rauchmalz  or beechwood smoked malt for us mere mortals.  The name really does match the brew here, sitting on my deck i could almost be relaxing after returning from the cotton mill.  Each bottle packs a respectable 2.5 standard drinks and one can be forgiven for forgetting that as it drinks so smoothly.  Overall a complex beer with a huge amount of personality. 

Matches and occasion: 

It would be a brave one who drank more than a few bottles of this porter, clearly not a session beer but one to be savored; it is certainly not a cheap option for mass consumption. The bottle claims that The Big Smoke will pair with seafood  but if it's alright No. 8 I am going to give that one a miss, I like to taste my fish. I wouldn't rule out drinking this beer with a good winter stew; what it cries out for however  is a rich dessert at the end of the meal or a strong blue cheese, both paired well. 

Its porter Jim, but not as we know it !