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From the 1920’s Ruby Island speakeasy to a microbrewery mecca

Craft beer has been around since the end of WW2 and gained popularity as people looked for more variety then what was on offer from the corporate brands. These small, rebellious, breweries were often producing long forgotten styles of amber that had more vibrant flavours and stronger tastes. In more recent years the scene has exploded on a global scale. Wānaka is no exception and with its 4 breweries serving up endless ‘hoppiness’ to the town.

They say that the best beer is the one drank with friends, a phrase which defines the craft beer scene. It’s a culture that’s fed off positive social interaction and community spirit and for towns such as Wānaka its no surprise that our breweries have become the post-outdoor activity hub of choice. Craft beer represents not just a product, but more so a set of values that are deeply rooted in going against the grain, pushing boundaries through community and the passion of creating something authentic.

Story written by local photographer and writer Leon Butler.

Riders relaxing at Bike Glendhu

Rhyme x Reason

Wānaka’s original brewpub is the brainchild of Jess, the brewer, and Simon, an engineer. Known for their wacky beer names and vibrant flavours, Rhyme x Reason have a cult following amongst the beer drinking aficionados.

An evening winter night at Rhyme and Reason brewery

Unusual brews such as a white stout and dragon fruit red IPA have cemented the brewery on the NZ craft beer map, with Simon having developed a canning system that is being used around the country. The brewpub itself has a quirky atmosphere and a sunny social beer garden that matches the vibe of the 14 beers they produce.

An eclectic brewery with plenty colour and character

The decor? Eclectic, slightly eccentric, homely and most important doggo-friendly.

b.effect /

B.effect taproom was started in 2015 by James Hay with a goal to create ‘sessionable ales’ and an outdoor sports community driven brand. They create brewed products perfect for celebrating your outdoor adventures.

BEffect-Patio Wanaka
B. Social patio, photo by Callum Wood

B.effect are focussed on local solutions to the climate problems we all face. They are proud supporters of all local climate regeneration activities and are always working to reduce their own impact. Through beers such as the mountain bikers favourite ‘Hero Dirt’ they donate a percentage towards reforestation in the local area. Their hero product is the ‘Wanaka Lager’ and for the non-alcoholic drinkers they have a mighty selection of Original, Jasmine and Early kombucha.

Après, photo by Callum Wood

The brewery also has a fantastic eatery that serves up the perfect compliment to a nice cold beer.

Ground Up

Ground Up has its roots firmly in outdoor adventure culture with owners Oli and Julian coming from a background in climbing and mountaineering, they decided to chase a different kind of thrill in brewing beer and started from the ‘ground up.

Outside of Ground Up brewery

They have been racking up the accolades since 2016 and have grown into a nationally respected brewery with 22 brews on offer in their taproom. Those who share the same passions as Oli and Julian will appreciate the names of each beer being a nod to climbing routes.

Ground Up brewery with climbing harnesses hanging from wall

Swing by on a Sunday night during winter to enjoy their own cinema night showing classic movies!

Wanaka Beerworks

Started in 1998, Beerworks is Central Otago’s oldest microbrewery. The idea was conceived by David Gillies whilst sat on the lake front one day, he wanted something a little more refreshing then was currently on offer back then. That was the birth of the now legendary ‘Brewski’ beer.

Inside local brewery Wanaka Beerworks

Their beer is brewed using solar energy and comes with a little bit of Wanaka in every drop thanks to the alpine spiring that feeds the brewery. Their recently opened brewbar over looking the lake gives you a real a sense of where David’s inspiration came from.

Beer cans in the snow

Grab the ‘Treble Cone’ wheat beer for a proper thirst quencher whilst looking at TC itself.

Can’t make it out to a brewery? You can find the bars below pouring locally brewed pints!