Innovative, interesting and individual about sums up Waikato's craft brewers and their brews.
Whether your craft brew of choice is pilsner, pale ale, India pale ale, or even hazy pale ale, or a stout, porter or dark beer, tart or fruity, there's plenty to sip and savour in the region while you say cheers to the mighty local brewers.
Waikato's hometown hero of craft beer is Good George Brewing.
A little over a decade ago Good George started out in Frankton with a single brewery and dining hall-style eatery. There are now four bars and eateries in Hamilton (Good George Dining Hall, Good Neighbour, The Cook, The Local Taphouse) as well as one in Cambridge (Good Union), another in Raglan (George's Beach Club) and a further location in Matamata (Merchant of Matamata).
Many other bars and eateries in the region, and beyond, also stock Good George beers and ciders, including the iconic Green Dragon Inn at Hobbiton Movie Set where the exclusively brewed Hobbit SouthFarthing range is served. Following a tour, the first beer, or cider, is on the house.
Good George also crafts small batch cocktails and gin, having fun with catchy names like the Day Off range and Mum's Secret Sauce made with fresh raspberries.
Another Waikato local is Brewaucracy which has its brewery and taproom in Te Rapa. The taproom is not a pub, gastro or otherwise, and not really a bar, but designed to be the kind of place craft beer fans will fall in love with.
It's where to see how Brewaucracy's range of beers are made. There are 16 different styles with the flagships being a vanilla flavoured English porter and a smoked lager. A sample 30ml taster is free and you can chat with the brewer too.
From time to time the Brewaucracy taproom also showcases beers from other craft brewers around the Waikato region.
Other passionate microbrewers located on the outskirts of Hamilton include Hopnotic and Bootleg Brewery.
Both have taprooms where you can sample their range of beers and ciders and enjoy tasty bites.
Amongst Hopnotic's beers is one the brewer claims is the closest fresh beer you will find in New Zealand to a true pilsner from Pilsen in the Czech Republic. Hopnotic is located just north of Hamilton Airport in an old woolshed where past shearers' names are stencilled on the rough sawn timber walls.
Bootleg's brewery and taproom is in the nearby village of Matangi. Housed in part of the historic Matangi dairy factory building, which was the largest dairy factory in the world when it was constructed in 1919, the taproom is child and dog friendly.
Craft beer fans can also sample local Waikato brews at places like Hamilton's Craft Bar and the Local Taphouse at SkyCity Hamilton.