Visiting Queenstown Breweries on a Craft Beer Tour
July 26, 2018
The other day Daniel and I were lucky enough to go on a craft beer tour in Queenstown. We got to visit four different Queenstown breweries and taste so many different craft beers that I actually lost count! This is our review of our day including our favourite spots to check out and information about the tour itself.
Visiting Queenstown Breweries on a Craft Beer Tour
Queenstown is the tourist hub of New Zealand’s south island and therefore it seems to have everything to offer tourists, but surprisingly up until recently, its brewery game hasn’t been so strong. Queenstown is a town full of adventure activities, amazing sightseeing opportunities, wineries everywhere, but for whatever reason, it was missing the ever-popular craft beer scene – that is until now!
In the last few months, a couple more breweries have opened in Queenstown, making visiting Queenstown breweries on a craft beer tour possible! The New Zealand-wide craft beer tour provider Brewbus saw the opportunity for a craft beer tour in Queenstown once all of these breweries opened and jumped at the chance to operate in Queenstown. And well, we are happy they did!
The other afternoon we went on a Brewbus craft beer tour in Queenstown and had a fantastic time! Keep reading to find out all about our experience as well as our favourite Queenstown Breweries (that you just have to check out for yourself!)
What to Expect on a Craft Beer Tour in Queenstown
Pick up – Of course, the bus will pick you up from your accommodation in Queenstown and drop you off at the end of the day. No need to worry about drinking and driving today, you can sample all of the beer you want without a worry about getting home!
The Breweries – The Brewbus goes to four different breweries in and around Queenstown where you get to try many different kinds of beer and learn about the beer making process. The full-day tour goes for about 6 hours and starts at noon, but there is also a half-day option for those who are short on time. The 4 stops include a visit to Arrowtown and the Shotover River so it’s a great way to see the area all while enjoying a brewery tour!
Lunch – Lunch is included and is the first stop! Fill up on a burger or sandwich of your choice and chips before a day of drinking beer.
Other bonuses – Driving around in the bus you will not just go to Queenstown Breweries, but you will get out of Queenstown and drive through some gorgeous areas. Take in the views and learn some fun facts from the driver along the way. The local guide shared lots of stories of Maori culture which was a great touch!
Our Experience on the Craft Beer tour in Queenstown
Our day started at noon when the iconic gold “Brew Bus” picked us up for the start of the tour. We were joined by a group of fun people all equally as excited as we were to try some awesome beer!
As we started the drive to Arrowtown, the sun was reflecting off the snow-capped mountains and we knew that it was going to be a fantastic day all around.
Lake & Wood Brew Co. at Slow Cuts in Arrowtown
We tried several different beers and left Slow Cuts with a full belly and already feeling a little tipsy.
My Top Pick Beer: Lake and Wood Barrelled – This beer is actually stored in barrels which gave it an oak flavor.
Dan’s Top Pick: Pils and Thrills – American Hopped Pilsner
Food Recommendations: Slow Cuts is amazing, but there is one item that isn’t on the menu that might be worth asking for if you are up for a spicy chicken burger. Ask for the “Jack or Yak Chicken Burger” if you are feeling adventurous!
Altitude Brewing in Frankton
The next stop was the newest of the Queenstown breweries. Having just moved from Christchurch, I can see Altitude Brewing becoming the new hot-spot to hang out in Queenstown. Conveniently located along Frankton road, this little brewery has a ton of flavor to offer and their beers are already quite famous internationally.
Here, we were treated to a tour of the brewery and let in on how the beer is made before sampling a few for ourselves.
My Top Pick: “The Mischievous Kea.” It is an easy drinking IPA and also Altitude Brewing’s biggest seller.
Dan’s Top Pick: “The Posturing Professional.” This Pale Ale definitely hits the mark with the strong hop flavours.
Searchlight Brewery in Queenstown
Our third stop was a small, locally owned brewery just on the outskirts of Queenstown. Searchlight Brewery has an awesome slogan ”search, seek, evolve” that not only relates to how they make their beer but also how they run their company (and I think is a great motto for life in general!)
Searchlight Brewery is a place that I will definitely make a stop at on the way back from a day of skiing on Coronet Peak! Plus, they sell takeaway growlers (1.9 litres) of beer for only $20!
My Top Pick: The Saison. It has a really unique flavour that I describe as almost spicy.
Dan’s Top Pick: The IPA. Dan always likes an IPA. This one is especially strong and will definitely give you a buzz at 7.2%!
Canyon Food & Brew Co. at the Shotover River
By our final stop, we were all feeling the beer and having some great laughs. Everyone on the tour became best friends and we were so chatty that it was hard to stay quiet during the brewery tour.
Canyon Food & Brew Co. has the best location right on the Shotover River. From the patio, you can sip beer with some spectacular views.
But besides the location, the beer is tasty and the food is awesome. A place like this would be a perfect hang out spot for a sunny afternoon.
My Top Pick: The Porter. I normally don’t like Porters, but this one wasn’t too strong and was easy to drink.
Dan’s Top Pick: All of them. At this stage of the tour, Dan was pretty tipsy and liked ALL of the beer!
Why go on a craft beer tour?
Besides the obvious of not having to worry about driving after you sample as many beers as you like, the best thing about a craft beer tour is the knowledge. You could visit these breweries on your own, but you won’t get the behind the scenes tour like we got, or meet the brewers themselves, and try such a variety!
Every place we went we learned about the process as well as the beers themselves. It added to the overall experience of tasting the beers, knowing the story and the work behind them made the experience that much more special.
While on the tour, we also learned more about the areas we were driving through and got some great local knowledge from the driver!
Tips for having a great day/what to bring
- It is a day full of drinking, so be prepared! I recommend hydrating that morning well before leaving! Don’t worry about bringing water as they provide it on the tour and at the breweries as well.
- Don’t forget your camera, some of the views from the bus are great and some of the breweries are located in beautiful locations.
- Start off slowly, if you drink too much at the beginning you will have had more than enough beer by the end. Pace yourself, it is a long day!
- Don’t be shy and ask questions during the brewery tours. Also, if you have a particular beer you want to try, ask for it. The brewers are all very nice and happy to answer any questions and sample more beers.
Why Choose Brewbus?
Brewbus is a professional company that are experts in all things craft beer! But besides the knowledge, you are guaranteed to have a fabulous time! Lots of laughs along the way of visiting some really special breweries in the Queenstown area.
Our day with Brewbus was spectacular, and we will be definitely joining them on some of their other brewery tours in other states,
We have been on so many wine tasting tours all over the world but had never been on a brewery tour before now, but we know now that it won’t be our last! The beer was tasty, the company was fun, and the tour company was perfect. We had such an enjoyable afternoon and made some great memories, and now, we have some new favourite beers to stock our fridge with!