For Wellington Anniversary weekend, we celebrate one of the capital’s most-loved exports, Tuatara Brewery, and some of the beers and places that made them
Born in 2000 on the beautiful coast that’s a stone’s throw north of Wellington City, Tuatara Brewery carved a fresh path on New Zealand’s beer scene. With only a handful of craft breweries in operation at the time, founder Carl Vasta (pictured below) could be referred to as one of an eminent few craft beer pioneers. A fairly lofty title for someone who just wanted to make beers that he and his mates enjoyed drinking. An engineer by trade, Vasta started brewing in his farm shed nestled on the hills above Waikanae, a cruisy seaside community near Paraparaumu that fast became a mecca for artisan food and beverages.
In the 18 years since it launched, Tuatara may have grown exponentially – now producing around 2 million litres of beer a year, and exporting internationally – but it hasn’t lost its independent ethos, having an increased focus on high quality NZ sourced ingredients and toiling away with experimental brews to supplement their tried and true.
TUATARA’S TOP WELLINGTON SPOTS
THE THIRD EYE This urge to experiment also saw Tuatara open The Third Eye, a tap room with an in-house microbrewery in Wellington City, that allows the brewers to dive into somewhat non-traditional beer territory – like the Scotch Ale made with a crab bisque (brewing below) or a Salty Gose made with the little known Buddha Fingers citrus fruit. It is also a site for collaboration with other Wellington artisans. The Tuatara Mojo Coffee Lager proving a tasty brew. Located in a former Boys Institute Building constructed in 1906, which then became a church hall, music studio, Black Power HQ, gym and NZ Post offices, the Third Eye also offers tasting experiences that include beer, food and the science of combing the two for best effect. 30 Arthur Street, Wellington City
TUATARA BREWERY TASTING ROOM A road or rail trip 40 minutes north will bring you to Tuatara’s heartland of the Kapiti Coast (pictured below). There, the Tuatara Brewery Tasting Room has the coastal, family friendly laid-back vibe, with a wide range of beers on tap, wine, cider and non alcoholic bevvies which you can enjoy with tasty pizzas or nachos. 7 Sheffield Street, Paraparaumu 5032, Kapiti Coast
TUATARA’S TASTE OF WELLINGTON
Kapai Aotearoa Pale Ale
Pay tribute to Tuatara’s roots with one of their original brews (the other being Mot Eureka, below). Aligning with Wellington's nonconfirmist ethos, this Aotearoa Pale Ale was created after a shortage of American hops saw Tuatara experimenting instead with NZ hops. What began as a temporary fix ended up becoming a Kiwi beer legend, loved for tastes and smells of citrus, tropical fruits, marmalade, herbs and fresh hops.
Mot Eureka New Zealand Pilsner
A great example of the capital's craft status, Mot Eureka is made with Kiwi hops, sourced from Motueka, to create new pilsner experience. With smells and tastes that are uniquely New Zealand, this brew is admired for its citrus and malt aromas, and quenching flavours of citrus, grass, bitter hops and a refreshing dry finish.
Coastin’ Session IPA
Tuatara's newest evolution comes in the form of this session IPA, a beer with the laid-back vibe of the brand’s Kapiti Coast roots. Coastin’ is a refreshing ale with enticing smells of passionfruit, melon, mango and pine, and tastes of tropical fruits, herbal spice, malt sweetness and low levels of bitterness.