Glenorchy Brew Co.
At the head of Lake Wakatipu, the Glenorchy Brew Co brew beers with water from the nearby mountains and glaciers – now, you can’t get much more refreshing than that!
This under-the-radar micro-brewery uses New Zealand and American hops to create easy-drinking mountain ales, red IPAs, pilsners and a “mountain twist” on the classic Munich helles lager.
You can stock up at Camp Glenorchy – an eco-retreat named by TIME magazine as one of the world’s greatest places of 2019, and a great place to camp if you’ve tasted a beer or two and don’t want to drive back to Queenstown.
Altitude brews for the adventurous and it’s easy to be inspired with these views – the brewery and tap room looks across the lake and mountains. Whilst there is parking nearby, the best way to find the brewery is by walking (or cycling) along the beautiful Frankton Track. It’s right next to the brand new marina and Altitude has quickly turned this scenic spot into a craft beer destination.
It was founded by Eliott Menzies in 2013, back when there were no craft breweries in the Whakatipu region. The idea whetted the appetite of business teacher, Eddie Gapper, so much so that Eddie gave up teaching for a career in beer.
“We're both in Queenstown because of the mountains and adventure,” says Eddie, “the Altitude Brewing journey has been one giant adventure for us all. We had no idea it would end up like this!
“We’ve become known for our Mischievous Kea IPA, a multiple gold medal-winning beer, and having the best view out of any roller-door in the country…”
The team has steadily climbed the ranks of craft brewing in New Zealand. Their award-winning hefeweizen beer dubbed ‘Persistent High’ is a must-try if you’re after something a bit different. As well as in bars and restaurants across Queenstown, you can find Altitude beers in all good liquor stores and supermarkets.
Canyon Brewing, Arthur's Point
Canyon Brewing is another Queenstown craft beer favourite. This micro-brewery and restaurant crafts all its beer onsite, on the banks of the Shotover River. Peer in through the brewery door and you’ll see head brewer Grant Radka and his team hard at work. Grant says he loves being able to be creative at Canyon Brewing:
“Queenstown has distinct seasons and I’m inspired to put out beers that reflect that. We’ve recently made tasty hazy IPAs, delicious sours, and a good old-fashioned lager. When it’s warm, I love our Lawn Mower lager: it’s made for a hot sunny day when you’re mowing the lawn in your jandals and you don’t want to lose your toes… it’s easy-going and sessionable at 4%.”
Jay Sherwood, Lake & Wood
Lake & Wood
What started in the corner of a mate’s shed has become a small-scale brewery that’s big on taste. Sip a beautifully tart and floral hibiscus sour or try their unfiltered pilsner that’s a homage to the region’s pristine lakes and rivers.
This hidden gem is well worth seeking out if you love craft beer and with a motto like 'search, seek, evolve' you know you’re always going to find something creative and new on their 18 taps. This independently owned and operated brewery started as the passion project of head brewer and founder Lewis Gaskin but has quickly become a best kept local secret.
Big things are on the horizon for Searchlight with the addition of a new head brewer, Steve Woods, and their new range of cans set to launch in the coming months. Head on over for an easy-going Session Hazy Pale Ale and keep your eyes peeled on their socials for the can launch.
Searchlight Brewery is located in Queenstown's industrial area, a five minute drive from downtown Queenstown.
Right in the heart of downtown Queenstown you can get your hands on a freshly brewed, craft beer at Whakatipu Brewing. Displaying a range of beers to cater to everyone’s palates, including some interesting seasonal brews.
Pop down to their brew-pub located on Beach Street to try their Sundown Hazy – it’s “juicy and hazy… which sums up the Queenstown lifestyle and sums up this low bitterness hop bomb” says Dan the brewer, “the Hazy is bursting with citrus flavour – think pineapple, passionfruit and guava. It's a delicious hoppy brew that can match the meatiest, richest burger you can throw at it”.
Whakatipu Brewery has a stand out menu – choose between burgers, delicious pub-style meals, shared snacks, desserts and more.
Cargo at Waitiri Creek
Beer lover Malcolm Blakey couldn’t leave behind more than a decade’s experience in event management when he opened Cargo at Waitiri Creek. Alongside a great range of innovative beers, the team at Cargo might just have Aotearoa’s best beer garden. Situated above the Kawarau River, this stunning spot has played host to major music events featuring the likes of The Black Seeds, Ben Harper and Fatboy Slim.
When Queenstown’s oldest hospitality business, the quaint Gantley’s pub (built in 1865 by the former jailor) became available, the Cargo team opened a tap room. It’s a cosy spot to sip on Cargo’s award-winning porter and nibble hot chicken wings.
The brewery’s ‘Lost Cargo’ series is a must-try Queenstown craft beer. The IPA, Vienna larger, old English ale and India pale larger have floral notes and a fresh and fruity flavour that’s perfect for quenching a thirst.
Post-ride craft brews at Fork & Tap
The Arrowtown Brewing Co.
A photographer, a musician and a Knight of the Realm… walk into a bar, and walk out with a great idea.
No, it’s not a joke, this is how an unlikely trio started Arrowtown Brewing. Photographer Michael Thomas, The Exponents bass player Dave Gent and Navman founder and businessman, Sir Peter Maire have dreamed up four beers that can be found across Arrowtown. The idea was born in Arrowtown’s Fork and Tap, a cosy pub in which to sit with a local beer and dream up your own unlikely adventures.
There’s a tasty IPA that’s light on the malt with a touch of tropical flavours and a ‘Sawpit Pilsner’, inspired by an Arrowtown hike that’s sweet… with some moments of bitterness. You can try the range at the Fork and Tap, or at any good bar or restaurant in Arrowtown.
Atlas Beer Cafe
Where to sample craft beer in downtown Queestown
There’s more than you’d expect to Queenstown’s craft beer scene. If you don’t know where to start that’s where our local craft beer houses come in. While only some of Queenstown’s best craft beers are available at supermarkets, almost all can be found in the craft beer houses.
Atlas Beer Café has long been a favourite and a champion of everything cool and refreshing. Situated on the lakefront in central Queenstown, this small bar is a big supporter of everything local. You’ll find good vibes, a selection of regular and seasonal craft beers and quite possibly New Zealand’s best stake and chips here.
Smiths Craft Beer House is another must for beer lovers. They serve a wide range of New Zealand’s beers and the team are happy to guide you through the best of the local craft brews. Order a plate of pulled pork loaded fries and settle in for a craft beer adventure. Stick around for an unusual array of local events from comedy to painting classes.
Beech Tree is a laid-back local joint which welcomes beer lovers and their four-legged friends. As well as 23 taps of rotating local craft beers, locals love it for the regular games nights and as a sweet spot to watch all the big sports games.
Craft Beer Tours
If you want to get a great taste of the region’s breweries with the added touch of an insider’s opinion, hop on a craft beer tour. These local beer aficionados will guide you to the best craft beer in Queenstown – and do the driving.