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This is our review of our Queenstown craft beer tour including our favorite breweries to check out and information about the craft breweries in Queenstown.
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 years, more and more breweries have opened in Queenstown, making visiting Queenstown breweries on a craft beer tour possible!
The other afternoon we went on a Brewbus craft beer tour in Queenstown and had a fantastic time! So in this blog, we’ll let you know all about our Queenstown brewery tour experience as well as our favorite Queenstown Breweries (that you can check out for yourself!)
What to Expect on a Craft Beer Tour in Queenstown
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 the worry of getting home!
Visit the Breweries
The Brewbus goes to four different breweries around Queenstown where you get to try lots of 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 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.
The scenic views
On the tour, your bus will take you to four breweries but via very scenic routes to enjoy amazing views. And the best part? The breweries are located in a few different areas of Queenstown and Arrowtown so you get to see a lot!
So take in the views and learn some fun facts from the driver along the way. Our local guide shared lots of stories of Maori culture which was a great touch!
Our Experience and the Queenstown Breweries we Visited
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.
1. Lake & Wood Brew Co. at Slow Cuts in Arrowtown
Our first stop was a restaurant in Arrowtown called Slow Cuts that serves the local Lake & Wood Brew Co. beer. At this stop, we also had lunch which meant we go to enjoy local craft beer and amazing burgers – life doesn’t get much better than that!
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!
2. 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 strong hop flavors.
3. Searchlight Brewery 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 it 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 take-away growlers (1.9 liters) of beer for only $20!
My Top Pick: The Saison. It has a really unique flavor 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%!
4. 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 as 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!
You can book your Brew Bus craft beer tour directly on their website or you can also view a range of new tours that have started in Queenstown here including a hop on hop off tour!
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,
Before you go…
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 some new favorite beers to stock our fridge with!
If you have any questions please leave them below in the comments and we will get back to you! If not be sure to check out other New Zealand travel guides here or some of our favorite articles below!
The best tours in Queenstown – This post outlines what we think are the best tours you can do in Queenstown, including our absolute favorite – but you’ll have to read it to find out!
Best bars in Queenstown – Just in case you haven’t had enough to drink you can check out our post on the best bars in Queenstown. It includes places to taste the best craft beer free New Zealand!
A guide to planning the best south island road trip – Need ideas on where to go? Check out our post on planning the best New Zealand, south island road trip!