Pinnacle Pints in Wānaka: Where Craft Beer Meets Mountain Peaks

People dining inside Rhyme x Reason.

Wānaka craft beer, mountain scenery and outdoor activities meet to create a community of followers who thirst for adventure.

Words by: Johnny Gibson 

Photos by: Nancy Zhou and Anna Briggs

We know Wānaka boasts some of the country’s most wondrous mountain scenery and outdoor activities. What’s not so often seen, though, is the connection between outdoor culture and local businesses, particularly the craft beer scene.

In Wānaka, this connection goes much further than Instagram highlights and puffer jackets; the two share a symbiotic connection of pushing the boundaries, seeking remote places and creating a community of followers who thirst for adventure.

To understand these altitude-inspired ales, we had a quick Q&A with Wānaka’s four breweries about their adventures and how they can be ambassadors for preserving the natural environment whilst enjoying a quality drop.

A beautiful mountain peak in Wānaka.

b.effect

Bars key icon. Cafes key icon. Restaurants key icon.

b.social, 60 Anderson Road, Wānaka

What sets b.effect apart?

Our mission is to create beverages for people to enjoy together and to help build a better community and planet. 

What are some things that b.effect is doing that people should know about? 

We started releasing our new Wānaka Series of beers over the winter of 2023. These beers have artwork inspired by activities and places in Wānaka by the talented local artist Lisa Moes of Love_Thy_Land. We've then brewed beers to go along with each story that should be 'Well Deserved' post your activity. 

Why do you think Wānaka has such a strong craft beer scene?

Wānaka has a good base of entrepreneurial people trying to create a way to live here, coupled with strong support for local people willing to try something new.

What are a couple of your favourite activities around greater Wānaka, and what b.effet beers would match those activities best? 

Ride bikes in Sticky Forest followed by a beer at b.social, or ride bikes out at Bike Glendhu followed by a b.effect beer! 

How does the outdoors influence your brand? 

The outdoors greatly influences b.effect; it's why we live in Wānaka and where we derive our inspiration for our beverages, hence our Wānaka Lager and Ridgeline Hazy IPA. We're all about 'Well Deserved' beverages, so we encourage everyone to get out there and enjoy the environment, as a refreshing beverage tastes much better after a hike, ride, or down by the lake. We consciously try everywhere in the brewery to minimise our environmental impact through less water use, less packaging and reusable or recyclable items where possible.  

What are you doing to help preserve the natural environment? 

Our people and community love this place we call home, whether that's Wānaka, the South Island or Aotearoa New Zealand. We also support many local initiatives to plant trees, preserve our environment and raise awareness, through partners like Bike Glendhu, Cardrona, Te Kakano, Protect Our Winters, Fiordland Wapiti Foundation and Wai Wānaka. We greatly value these partners’ work and support them as much as possible. We’re also taking deliberate steps to reduce our carbon footprint and mitigate our negative impact on the planet through b.good. Check it out here. 

Rhyme x Reason

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17 Gordon Road, Wānaka

What sets Rhyme x Reason apart?

RxR is even more appropriately named than we realised at the time. On the one hand, we make styles of beer that are exactly on par with their classic and original characteristics. And on the other hand, we test the boundaries of defining styles and flavour combinations. Habaneros, MSG, dragon fruit, you name it! Our diverse selection means there is something to please just about all beer drinkers, and finding out which one is for them is half the fun. 

What are some things Rhyme x Reason is doing that people should know about? 

We are a very small team and the hats are constantly being passed around for different jobs about the place, so we are all very connected to each beer we brew. Simon designed and built our canning line, too, so it all happens in-house, and the touch points for everything are very close, which leaves little reason for error. We also have a side project right now, kicking out a ginger beer, SideTracks. It's bloody delicious! 

Why do you think Wānaka has such a strong craft beer scene? 

We know RxR beer, especially now that we can it, is adventure-ready deliciousness, and Wānaka really is a haven for all things fun. Work hard, play hard, earn your beers, etc.  Whatever way you put it, our beer tastes great after enjoying the incredible landscape we are surrounded by in every changing season. Wānaka is also where our connection to the land doesn't stop with outdoor recreation. We know that supporting locals and being part of a community will make it a better place. So eating local food and drinking a local drop just makes sense. 

What are a couple of your favourite activities around greater Wānaka, and what beers would match those activities? 

Hike up Mt Roy, look at Mt Alpha and drink Mt. Alpha. Cruise down the Baywatch track at Bike Glendhu and enjoy a Baywatch at Velo after a few laps. Watch the groomers up Treble Cone while enjoying a Black Lips from the comfort of your couch. Have a Sik Pits out at Your Wave and enjoy surfing in a lake town.  

How does the outdoors influence the brand? 

Many of our best ideas are made while we are out enjoying where we live! Funny moments on the boat, floating down the river, waiting in line for the chairlift, earning beers from a hike, mountain bike riding, testing the 4-wheel drive limits of delivery vehicles, surf missions and many other activities. On top of that, we love hearing the adventure stories of those seeking a good pint after a mission and are always chatting with our punters about what they are up to. 

What are you doing to help preserve the natural environment? 

A continuous improvement mentality means that we will always look at alternatives and never say, this is just how we do it here. We recently set up a waste audit with Wānaka Wastebusters, and the feedback is that we are doing an excellent job; there were a couple of suggestions for improvement, and we have the ball in motion for those. We support local non-profits by letting them use our Malt Room for events, providing beers for their worker bee evenings or donating to their events. We recently won the local Rotary duck race and donated our winning prize to Southern Lakes Sanctuary. I am also very active with Lake Wānaka Tourism and represent the brewing sector in our region’s focus group for Food Resilience. We hope one of this group’s impacts will be a substantial Farmers' Market, among other efforts to improve our B2B relationships within the community. Our website also has a tab that focuses on All Things Good. 

Ground Up

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4 Gordon Road, Wānaka

What sets Ground Up apart? 

As one of the first breweries in Wānaka, we take much pride in what we do—initially starting on a 100-litre system and expanding to our current 1200-litre system, we may have grown, but we are still a small crew extremely passionate about beer and want to give every customer the best beer experience.

What are some things Ground Up is doing that people wouldn't be aware of?

People may not know that we host a year-round quiz every Tuesday, music bingo every Saturday and many fundraising events for the community. We offer free venue hire for events and provide a cosy and fun environment despite the industrial exterior.

What are some things Ground Up is doing that people should know about? 

The craft beer presence is strong in Wānaka because there is no excuse to drink bad beer. We have everything people look for in a town. It's small, quaint and beautiful, but also has a bustling hospitality and tourism industry in which sustainability is always a top priority.

What are a couple of your favourite activities around greater Wānaka, and what Wānaka Beer Works beer would match that activity best? (Maybe some specific climbs?)

Well, in winter, when you're up on the mountain, skiing, snowboarding or just taking in the sights, there's nothing quite like an Alpine Start Oatmeal Stout. And for all the summer Crag Dogs, I highly recommend the Punks in the Gym, named after Australia's hardest climb.

How does the outdoors influence the brand? 

Ground Up's creators are avid climbers and mountaineers. All our beers are named after climbs or are climbing-related. The Groove Train Hazy IPA is a must-have after a hard climb.  We also can't get enough of the KPA - Kiwi Pale Ale, a 5% pale ale with all New Zealand hops. As well, we have recently released our Micro IPA, a 2.5% IPA designed with all the flavours of a 6% IPA.

What are you doing to help preserve the natural environment? 

We try to capture and reuse our CO2 during the brewing process. We recycle as much as we can, donating our spent grain to local farmers to feed their livestock and often collaborate with Wao (wao.co.nz) for environmental and sustainability talks and fundraisers. We want to leave this planet better than when we entered it.

The inside of Wānaka Beerworks.

Wānaka Beerworks

891 Wanaka-Luggate Highway / Wānaka Brew Bar, 80 Ardmore Street

What sets Wānaka Beerworks apart? 

We were the first brewery in Central Otago! We brew our beer using 100% solar power and all our water comes from an onsite alpine spring.

What are some things Wānaka Beerworks is doing that people should know about? 

 All of our core range beers are brewed using only NZ Hops and NZ Malt.

Why do you think Wānaka has such a strong craft beer scene? 

Wānaka has a great community and people love supporting local products and local people. 

What are a couple of your favourite activities around greater Wānaka, and what Wanaka Beer Works beers would match those activities best? 

There are limitless activities here in summer and winter. Our crew loves sailing, boating, mountain biking, fly fishing, skiing, snowboarding, and just getting out into the mountains and hills. The best beer for all those activities would be a Brewski Pilsner, which has been fuelling Wānaka adventures for 25 years and counting.

How does the outdoors influence the brand? 

Being based in Wānaka, everything we do is influenced by the outdoors. We live in one of the most beautiful natural playgrounds. Our team has a variety of interests, such as mountain biking, disc golf, waterskiing, skiing, snowboarding, camping, hiking, fly fishing, boating, motorbikes, and generally just getting outside and enjoying everything Wānaka has to offer.

What are you doing to help preserve the natural environment? 

All of our beers are brewed using 100% solar power. All of our spent grain is given to local farmers for livestock feed. All of our beers are canned so that they can be infinitely recycled. All of our water is drawn from an onsite alpine spring.

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Outdoor area with a bike parked up at b.social, Wānaka.
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