Sipping my glass of Imperial Nibs cacao, vanilla, and coconut brew in The Beer Spot, I overheard two men discussing the ales they were imbibing.
“Wow,” the first said, taking an extravagant gulp from his glass. “Kinda sharp and lemony. Smells like a grass.”
“I can taste a bit of caramel,” the second said, “but it’s layered.”
Bill’s choice was peanut butter and jelly flavour. He declared it delicious. Beer, it seems, is the new wine. Elbow-benders chucking numerous pints of the ‘amber’ down their throats no longer fits the image of today’s ale connoisseurs.
A more discerning attitude has given rise to an astonishing growth in the number of boutique beers being brewed in all corners of the country, increasing from 60 small breweries in 2013 to around 160 in 2017. Even devotees can’t keep track.
About the owners
Among the enthusiasts, two friends—Laurence Van Dam and Jason Payn—recognised the trend. They also noted there were no outlets showcasing the range and diversity of boutique beers on the market and decided to do something about it.
And so in an unpretentious building that was once a greengrocer on Northcote Road in Auckland now stands The Beer Spot.
Bill led me there by the nose. I am not a great beer drinker and imbibing the beverage in a shed had little appeal. That was until I went there.
The only froth here is on the beer. The seating is varied and comfortable comprising old sofas, bar stools, and chairs. The long bar accommodates the shining 40 taps dispensing a rotating range of great beer.
The atmosphere is warm, relaxed, and presented with humour. “Hello,” reads a notice at the entrance, “Is it beer you’re looking for?”
Headings on the labels board, such as Designated Driver, Poppin’ Pills, and Shady Lady, also set the tone. And if you can’t decide, a spinning wheel will choose a beer for you.
In one corner is a hair-cutting bar and barber’s chair so that men can truthfully tell their wives they are just popping out for a haircut, and in the courtyard, a food caravan is parked. This also changes, so there is a different style of food each week.
“We are continually hunting down the best beers from all over the country,” Jason told me. “You don’t have to drink them on-site. Take-home bottles can be filled from a keg.
I thoroughly enjoyed my Imperial Nibs—the whole experience in fact. I may become a convert to the amber brew. I’ll certainly be seen at The Beer Spot again.
Footnote: Parking for large RVs is difficult.