Brew­ing gems a short walk away

Emer­son’s Brew­ery


Emer­son’s Brew­ing Com­pany opened its new home base mid last year, adding a restau­rant, bar and cel­lar door, in ad­di­tion to a brew­ery which con­tin­ues to strengthen the brand’s 25-year legacy.

Where/what is it?

The brew­ery is the fourth premises for Richard Emer­son’s beer em­pire, which be­gan in Grange St in Dunedin’s stu­dent quar­ter in 1992, when a young Emer­son con­cocted the Lon­don Porter that re­mains a flag­ship Emer­son’s brew to­day.

The modern, red brick mono­lith is an un­mis­tak­able sight on An­zac Ave, draw­ing pun­ters in for a pint, a meal, a tour, or all three. The $25 mil­lion project has pro­duced more than three mil­lion litres of beer al­ready this year, and the larger foot­print al­lows Emer­son’s four brew­ers to ex­per­i­ment with new recipes.

In the foyer, there’s a framed post­card Emer­son sent to his grandma in 1990, with a line that reads: ‘‘I still want to run a brew­pub one day as a fam­ily en­ter­prise with a restau­rant.’’

The re­sult is a cav­ernous space that man­ages to re­main cosy, equally suited for cel­e­bra­tions or ca­sual drinks.

On the menu, you’ll find bar snacks, shar­ing plates and meals that leave or­di­nary pub-style fare for dead. The stand­out item is the tast­ing box: a se­lec­tion of six beers, which range from the Emer­son’s su­per­stars (1812, Book­binder, Bird Dog, Dare­devil, the beloved Lon­don Porter and the Pilsener, which com­prise 55 per cent of Emer­son’s sales), as well as sea­sonal and lim­ited re­leases.

Make sure to in­quire about Jim’s Choice – a tap named af­ter head brewer Jim Fal­coner.

You can don a hi-vis vest and be guided through the brew­ery it­self; you’ll see the malt room, fer­men­ta­tion and bot­tling ar­eas, topped off with a tast­ing be­gin­ing at 5am and end­ing about 6pm. The four tours a day ac­com­mo­date 12-15 peo­ple, and take about 45 min­utes.

In­sider tip

The brew­ery has a beer club on the first Tues­day of ev­ery month, hosted by the man him­self, Richard Emer­son. It’s lim­ited to 30 places and you can learn more about a par­tic­u­lar beer style – say, IPAs from around New Zealand. The $30 en­try fee cov­ers the cost of up to 10 beer tast­ings and food.

On the way/near by

In cen­tral Dunedin, ev­ery­thing is close. Emer­son’s is near Forsyth Barr sta­dium, and has be­come a favoured spot for a pre-game tip­ple. It’s also a wa­ter­ing hole for moun­tain bik­ers who’ve zoomed down nearby Sig­nal Hill. The space is fam­ily-friendly and wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble – truly wel­com­ing for any­one who ap­pre­ci­ates good food, drink and com­pany.

Walk there. One of the loveli­est things about Dunedin is its nav­i­ga­bil­ity by foot; it’ll take you less than 20 min­utes to trek to Emer­son’s from the Oc­tagon in the city cen­tre, and about 10 min­utes from the Otago Uni­ver­sity clock­tower. For those con­tent to sober drive, there’s plenty of park­ing on site.

How much?

Tours cost $28 in­clud­ing a tast­ing. A tast­ing box of six beers, with tast­ing notes, will set you back $17. Other menu items are mid-range price.

Best time to go

The crowds are steady at Emer­son’s, but the space is big enough to wel­come ev­ery­one, and its ex­cel­lent acous­tics mean con­ver­sa­tions are eas­ily heard, how­ever big the crowd. You’ll find a gen­er­ally younger bunch there in the evenings, older folk dur­ing the day, plenty of whom have sup­ported Richard Emer­son’s en­ter­prise since its Grange St begin­nings (the uni­ver­sity sci­ence de­part­ment staff were the guinea pigs for his inau­gu­ral brews). Cap­ping sea­sons will be busier, while sum­mer, when the stu­dents go home, will be qui­eter. - Britt Mann

The writer was a guest of En­ter­prise Dunedin

Ricky Saun­ders, one of the Brew Crew at Emer­son’s Brew­ing Com­pany, Dunedin.

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