There are some excellent examples of breweries in the greater Auckland region, making for a fun day out. But if you're looking for something more central you're also well catered for - more craft-oriented breweries are popping up and hopping up in the heart of the city. Here we raise a glass to those that have bars or taprooms you can settle down in with a tasting paddle or pint and a bite to eat.
Rudi not to
An impressive 1000-litre brewery is the background to the bustling bar at Dr Rudi's, on a prime piece of real estate: the rooftop of a building right on downtown's sparkling Viaduct marina. They have a huge menu spanning pizzas, nibbles and shared plates and plenty of fresh seafood, and another nifty trick up their sleeve - two ten-pin bowling lanes tucked to the side of the dance floor. But the most beautiful thing about Dr Rudi's really is the beer. In charge of making sure this brewery belts out the best of brews is German-trained Master Brewer Alex Biedermann. Alex admits it's only natural, being German, that he excels in lagers, so you'll definitely want to try whatever lagers they have on the go. That said, the other styles are also excellent: nothing better than their bold Dutch Courage IPA with a side of rooftop seafood feasting.
Level 2, 204 Quay St, Viaduct
A pub, brewery and hotel: you'd never really have to leave the Shakespeare Hotel and Brewery on Albert St in the CBD. This was the city's first brew bar, long before that term became trendy. Their production is impressively large too, brewing not just for the pub but creating custom brews for clients. As well as enjoying a pint of your favourite at the bar (there's always a few of their own brews on tap), they also offer their full range in in 500ml bottles, as well as kegs to go. The Shakespeare Brewery eschews pasteurisation and filtering, meaning all their beers are "live"; full of flavour and texture. This summer we're loving the crispness of their Jester Pilsner, which is finished with dry hops and smells like lovely lime peel.
61 Albert St (cnr Albert St and Wyndham St)
None of the three Brothers sites round town are older than five but they all possess a delightfully cosy, lived-in atmosphere, with worn-in retro sofas and armchairs, and the luxury of there being 15-18 brews on tap makes it extremely easy to settle in for a long, languid arvo. Especially enjoyable is the fact that you can sink a few of their tasty Tropicals at 3.8 per cent and not feel a bit tipsy. A wee bit stronger but still nicely refreshing is their toasty, biscuity Amber ale. The Mt Eden site is home to Juke Joint BBQ and is a great place to take the kids, with an outdoor play area and old car inside to climb all over, which seems to provide endless entertainment. Orakei does burgers and CityWorks Depot spins out the pizzas.
Shed 3D City Works Depot, 90 Wellesley St West
5 Akiraho St, Mt Eden
Orakei Bay Village, 228 Orakei Bay Rd, Orakei
If you can wrangle a free afternoon of a Wednesday, head down to Sweat Shop Brew Kitchen in the Victoria Park precinct to get an up-close insight into this central city brewery with chief brewer Rory Main. Sweat Shop has some brews that never leave the bar, with other taps rotating to showcase the season's best. Current highlights include their light, fruity and bitter sessional ale - a refreshingly low 3.5%ABV, and the uber-hoppy, cloudy and smooth East Coast IPA which is Rory's top pick right now. Check the website or menu for excellent daily dining specials (the beer-can chicken Sunday picnic is particularly lovable) and never fear if you haven't had time to preen yourself before heading out the house, you can pop in to the onsite barber for the full works or perhaps just for a "line-up"; a quick sharpen-up of your look.
7 Sale St, Freemans Bay
Comfortably nestled in its heritage-build ex-library Uptown, Galbraiths Real Ale House has been steady brewing up what founder Keith Galbraith calls "good honest beer" since 1995: Keith cleverly foresaw the boom in handcrafted beer decades before it really hit. Refreshingly unfazed by hipster trends, Galbraiths remains a decent pub at heart, with generously portioned pub nosh and a brewing line-up that focuses on the ales. For a taste of something unique, try the Russian Imperial Stout: recently judged the single best beer over 6 per cent ABV in the entire world, it's velvety with rich flavours of espresso and liquorice. And to go with it? You can't go past their legendary bangers and mash.
2 Mt Eden Rd, Grafton
Only 10 minutes by train from downtown and you're at the doorstep of Urbanaut, the beer baby of three friends: Bruce Turner, Simon Watson and Thomas Rowe, who have pooled their collective decades of world travel to inspire a burgeoning brewing empire. They love their Kingsland hood and name their brews for international suburbs that correspond to it, so there's currently Brixton pale ale, Gastown Red IPA, Williamsburg IPA and a Shimokita lager as well as Kingsland pilsner. You can book in for a 90-minute tour of the brewery, get hands-on with the ingredients and sample, including seasonal brews, as you go. It's also super handy to Eden Park, meaning you could pay a visit before or after a big match. Their cellar door is open every day, with tasting trays.
97 New North Rd, Kingsland