A Guide to Crafty Brews and Bites in Hamilton Kirikiriroa

A hand holding a glass of beer inside Bootleg Brewery.

Beers and bites go hand in hand (that’s why we have two, right?!), and Hamilton Kirikiriroa sure knows how to deliver some of the best (beers and bites, that is, not hands).

Words by: Nicole Mudgway

Photos by: Anna Briggs


Whether you’re after a taproom in an old dairy factory, a brewery tour or just a grab-and-go, the list below covers all of these and so much more. And, as it’s not all about the beer, we highlight some darn delicious bites too. Because fried chicken seems to have a special place in everybody’s heart nowadays (unless they’re vegetarian, of course), we consider it more or less mandatory for any list discussing bites and brews. Throw in some DIY charcuterie platters, burgers, plant-based delicacies and, naturally, some Kiwi onion dip.

Bootleg Brewery

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452b Tauwhare Road, Matangi, Hamilton

Beer made for the locals, by the locals, in what was once the world’s largest dairy factory: can this get any more Kiwi? Born from the notion that beer need not taste like Lion Red, Bootleg Brewery proudly serves exclusively flavoursome beers.

Sink back into the comfy leather couches, or perch at the bar with a pint of the Apehanger IPA, winner of the 2017 award for Best Strong Pale Ale. Alternatively, dabble in any of their 16 other beers on tap; we hear the Belgian style and dark beers are becoming more popular by the day.

Enjoy the local gins, spirits and quality wines on offer in the rustic taproom, quaintly adorned with fairy lights. Bring your growler and take your favourite beers home as Bootleg also has an off-licence. To answer the initial question, yes, it can still get more Kiwi. The menu features toasties, platters and hot dogs and, of course, Kiwi onion dip.

Hayes Common

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33 Jellicoe Drive, Hamilton East, Hamilton

Consider Hayes Common your home away from home - just as the founders conceived. East Hamilton’s very own hub away from the main city, Hayes Common is a great suggestion any time of day.

The relaxed, friendly environment at Hayes Common makes kicking back an activity in its own right. However, there are also river views to absorb with a local beer in hand, nooks to cosy up in with an Atomic coffee to nurse, and spacious tables for hanging out with friends over brunch.

Quality ingredients make for better food, and Hayes Common doesn’t shy away with their seasonal menu showcasing good, honest flavours. Using local produce where possible, Hayes Common gets herbs from their kitchen garden and sources free-range meat and eggs.

Check their website for a revolving schedule of events, from Neighbourhood Eats celebrating different international cuisines to Meet the Maker events with local brewers and winemakers.

Brewaucracy

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34 Mahana Road, Te Rapa, Hamilton

Run by two fellow (liberal) beer lovers, Brewaucracy tends to poll well amongst the locals. The brewery has now expanded into a taproom, meaning visitors can taste the beer at its freshest, witness the beer-brewing process and even chat with the brewers themselves.

There are usually 15 beers on the go, all named to the tune of Brewaucracy, including Tax Evasion, Stockholm Syndrome and A Devil in the Boardroom. There is less of a focus on IPAs but never none, as politics and beer-making are both about giving the people what they want. As local independents often do, Brewaucracy generally features a guest tap or two from other small breweries in the area, and sometimes further afield. Come for a tasting, and remember your growler to take your favourites home.

Mr. Pickles

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298 Victoria Street, Hamilton Central, Hamilton

Striking the perfect balance between sophisticated and casual, Mr. Pickles is a laneway bar with some seriously cool vibes. While the items on the menu are designed to share, the staff will cheerfully remind you that what works for you, works for them.

You can build your own platter, choosing from a selection of cheeses, meats and dips. Don’t forget the pickles! Platters pair well with wine (for which the options are plentiful) and, of course, craft beer. Mr. Pickles has three rotating beers on tap, plus a whole lot of cans in the fridge (featuring all the classics from Garage Project, Parrotdog and Sawmill), so the selection is anything but limited. There’s also a range of fun cocktails for those that want to make sure that it’s not just the charcuterie that’s getting pickled.

A hand holding a pint of beer.

The Hamilton Beer & Wine Co

413 Anglesea Street, Hamilton Central

Despite the descriptive name, you can expect to encounter more than just beer, wine and spirits at Hamilton Beer & Wine Co. Discover also a passionate team eager to quench your thirst for a drink with their wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm.

Whether it be assisting a search for a particular wine or an obscure beer or at one of their regular tasting or appreciation events, the passion never falters. The mezzanine floor is perfectly set up for events, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and a large television screen and camera, meaning growers, brewers, and experts can dial in from all over the world.

Check out their huge range of alcohol both in-store and online, and bring your growler because they’ve also got plenty of kegs tapped at any given time.  

Good George Dining Hall

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32A Somerset Street, Frankton, Hamilton

One of Waikato’s - nay, New Zealand’s - most successful beer enterprises, Good George sprouted from humble beginnings. Together, some lads moved into Saint George Chapel and started brewing a single pale ale. The local beer drinkers were fans of this unassuming pale ale, and from there, good things grew.

Good George has since blossomed into a Hamilton institution, producing beer, cider, spirits and even cocktails across multiple locations. Somerset Street is the OG, and with the beer brewed onsite, it’s where the magic continues to happen. Come worship George and participate in a tour, a tasting or just settle back with some scrumptious food designed to match the beer. Don’t miss the giant beer fridge, installed with techno disco lights that flash in time with old ‘70s rock hits.

Last Place Bar

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54 Collingwood Street, Hamilton Central, Hamilton

A concept that had been brewing for a while, Last Place is the brainchild of four friends who knew there was something missing from Hamilton’s hospo scene.

An old-school American dive bar crossed with an RSA, the interior is somewhere between a plush lounge and your garage. There are over 100 beers available (everything from the most basic of Waikato draughts to the latest trend in craft beer), whisky highball on tap and a carefully curated wine list. On the menu you’ll find delicious burgers and other hot and saucy snacks, available all night (or morning) long. Finally, Hamilton has a popular mid-sized music venue to call its own: check their website for upcoming gigs.

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With a large outdoor area amongst the brewing tanks, Good George is the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of beer in the sunshine.