A Beer Lover's Guide to Eating and Drinking in Dunedin

A group of people sat around a table drinking beer at Steamer Basin, Dunedin.

Home to the oldest beer in the country, the Dunedin brewing scene is buzzing.

Words by: Sophie Morris

Photography by: Neat Places

This Scottish-influenced Southern city boasts an impressive array of beer production houses, from craft microbreweries and family-run locals to popular pubs and eclectic establishments.

Seasonal ingredients from around the region have a strong influence, meaning there are flavour-forward fermented beverages that will suit any palate and quench your thirst, right from the coldest of winters through to the hottest of Dunner’s summers.

From lager lovers to craft beer connoisseurs, there’s something for everyone. So grab a bevvy and hop to it.

Arc Brewing Co.

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1870 Waikouaiti-Waitati Road, Evansdale

Arc Brewing Co. is all about flavour, creativity, and drinkability. Located just 20 minutes from the city centre in beautiful Blueskin Bay, their friendly and knowledgeable crew pour small batch, hand-crafted beers from the taproom and bar with style.

The historic Blueskin Hotel has been carefully converted into a unique and welcoming space with large fires to cosy up next to, multiple outdoor areas for catching some rays, and regular live music to tap your toes to while sipping on a tangelo hazy IPA. Local food trucks park up on a weekly rotation, serving street food to the crowds like pizzas, bao buns and burgers. Family-friendly and funky, it’s the perfect possie to quench your thirst on the weekend.  

Emerson's Brewery

70 Anzac Ave, Dunedin

One of New Zealand’s pioneering craft breweries, Emerson’s is an institution thoughtfully designed for beer lovers. Offering daily tastings, it’s a buzzing and lively space that shows off the working brewery and is certainly worth settling in for an afternoon or evening.

Emerson’s offers an array of beers to suit all palates, with a selection of year-round, seasonal, vintage, and limited brews. Their food menu is just as carefully curated, with bar snacks, sharing plates and mains to line your bellies and match your beer preferences – the smoked beef brisket goes down a treat when paired with a freshly poured Bookbinder or tasting tray. Take a seat under the outdoor fairy lights or grab a booth inside for a fantastic beer hall experience.

Burger Fix

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22 Vogel Street, Central Dunedin, Dunedin

Burgers and Beer – name a more iconic duo. Dunedin has a smorgasbord of spots where you can get your much-needed burger fix.

Patti's & Cream is a cute-as-can-be Bedford food truck out and about each week, frying up American-style burgers with quality ingredients and super friendly service.

Burger Plant is Dunedin’s first and only fully plant-based fast food spot, with everything from vegan pork to cheese and bacon bites made with vegan cheddar and tempeh.

A converted Vogel Street warehouse is the home of Good Good, where the kitchen is a caravan and new-age burgers and sides are served to punters in a funky, neon-lit space.

Noisy Brewing Company

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7 Anzac Avenue, Central Dunedin, Dunedin

Brewing small batches of ever-changing flavours, Noisy Brewing Co. is a hot spot for the beer aficionado.

This family-operated micro-brewery focuses on bold and flavoursome beers while celebrating the variety of choice. Chief brewer Chris has a personal penchant for brewing darker beers – one of his unique creations, a milk stout with toasted coconut and almonds, is in high demand.

With six rotating taps and new brews on offer each week, their afternoon samplings (Thursday through to Saturday) are a must-try. The brewery also offers rigger and flagon fills for a delicious takeaway tipple.

The Portsider

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31 George Street, Port Chalmers

An historic township calls for a seriously good pub, and The Portsider does not disappoint.

Situated in an old marine hotel full of character, The Portsider is known for its selection of craft beer, ales and personalised service. Owners Pip and Hanz have all the beverage knowledge you might need and are happy to serve it alongside their broad selection of imbibements and homemade fare. The space itself is classic and charming with wooden floors, leather seating and a super cosy fire. They even have books, and board games to keep you entertained – or bring out your competitive side.

Settle in and enjoy a beer from one of the rarer New Zealand breweries while snacking on crispy lamb and leek wontons or Dutch bitterballen. A fine establishment with even finer refreshments. 

Prohibition Smokehouse

10 The Octagon, Dunedin

After a long, hard day enjoying craft beer and fine ales, it’s time to refuel. Located in the Octagon and sprinkled with roaring 20s décor and an overarching Miami Vice vibe, Prohibition Smokehouse is the perfect pit stop.

Centred around a paleo ethos, the decadent menu designed by a talented team of chefs focuses on four main elements: smoke, fire, dry aging and fermentation. Dig in and enjoy fresh Pacific oysters followed by their famous smoked Silver Fern Farms beef short rib with a side of butter mash and gravy. To top off a good night, treat yourself to a Tropicana-style cocktail decorated with charred fresh pineapple – it would be rude not to. 

A man pouring a beer at Steamer Basin Dunedin.

Steamer Basin

No Name Alley, Dunedin

Like a treasure hunt with beer at the end, Steamer Basin Brewery and Taproom is tucked away in the unmarked No Name Alley, part of Dunedin’s old Bond Quarter.

The once-derelict building has been lovingly restored, making it the perfect space for Karen Gazzard and Paul Kelly to realise their dream of creating well-balanced beer made to be shared. Now with a neighbourly watering hole, they are doing just that.

The brewery and taproom serves up seasonal beer made with fresh local ingredients, while long tables encourage punters to get to know each other over a cold brew and pizza served by the slice. On-tap options range from a honey pilsner to a plum brown ale. Down to earth and delicious – we’ll drink to that.

Albar

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135 Stuart Street, Dunedin

For a small space, this Scottish-themed pub certainly packs a punch. A hearty and ever-popular local joint on Dunedin’s Stuart Street, Albar serves up fine ales, select whiskey and tasty tapas alongside service with a smile in a laidback, authentic pub atmosphere. Their menu trumps any of the typical snacks you might usually expect to find in a bar, with delicious sharing plates of patatas bravas and aioli, salt and pepper squid, bruschetta, and even haggis for those wanting a truly Scottish experience. Quench your thirst with a ‘Malt of the Month’ whiskey or treat your taste buds to an Emerson’s 1812. 

The exterior windows of Dunedin Craft Distillers.

Dunedin Craft Distillers

8 Roberts Street, Dunedin

When it’s time to change the palate, what better choice than the new “in” spirit, gin. Dunedin Craft Distillers' Sue Stockwell and Jenny McDonald are putting their own sustainable stamp on the renaissance liquid, distilling gin in small batches to create botanical spirits from surplus bread and bakery products.

It’s a unique process that came about through curiosity and a deep desire to stop waste from going to landfill. With batches of Dunedin Dry Gin (warming and spicy with a subtle and sweet finish) and their award-winning Cacao Vodka (smooth and slightly bitter like dark chocolate), there’s no better way to wet one’s whistle.

Neat Dunedin Places

Ebb Dunedin

View of the corridors and art at Ebb, Dunedin.
Place Dunedin
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Ebb Dunedin is a visionary masterpiece. Award-winning architect Gary Todd has - with much aplomb - excelled in bringing this modernist hotel to Dunedin’s cityscape.

Carey's Bay Historic Hotel

Stone exterior of the hotel.
Place Dunedin
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Dating back to 1874, Carey’s Bay Historic Hotel is one of the most popular pubs in Dunedin.

Box of Birds

Vintage cups and teapots on shelves.
Place Dunedin

A Port Chalmers gem, Box of Birds is a retro store selling great vintage clothing and Kiwiana kitsch.

Marbecks Foodstore

Glass cabinet with black lights hanging overhead.
Place Dunedin
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At Marbecks Foodstore the shelves are stocked with a huge variety of nationally and internationally sourced specialty food products.