When it comes to beer, Wellington is different to most towns and cities. It’s not because there’s a local brand that people drink with fierce loyalty, but the complete opposite. In Wellington there’s variety—and if you know where to look, you won’t need to dip into your living costs to pay for it.
Here, beer can be more than a piss-coloured, alcoholic fizzy drink that you drink out of the bottle. More and more cafes and bars are expanding their selections beyond the big two breweries and inviting innovative, assertively flavoured craft beers into their fridges and onto their taps.
But being a student comes with certain budget restrictions, and small brewers can’t compete with the big two, so don’t expect to see $15 dozens of the latest 8 Wired pale ale. However, good beer doesn’t have to be (too) expensive.
The best way to get cheap(er) craft beer in you is to fill a 1-2½ litre bottle (known as a rigger/flagon/pub PET/growler depending on where you’re from) with your desired beer. Being served from a tap means there is less effort going into getting the beer to you, significantly reducing the cost to you.
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There are many inner city craft beer venues which provide this service, but the cheapest by far is Wellington’s oldest Mecca of craft beer, Regional Wines and Spirits.Situated on the southern corner of the Basin reserve, Regional has been around for more than 20 years. On their ‘fill your own’ system there are 11 constantly changing craft beers, with prices ranging from $11-$20 for a 2 litre rigger fill.
Craft beer bars are also cottoning on to the rigger revolution, and you can now fill riggers at Hashigo Zake (Taranaki St) and Malthouse (Courtenay Place). You’ll get a different, sometimes exclusive selection, but also expect to pay slightly more.
Almost all of the beers I write about in this column throughout the year will feature on these taps, so keep an eye out for tap updates from these venues on your preferred social network. Seriously, just walk in and check these places out. Have a nosey at their huge selections and maybe buy something as a treat.