Brewing gems a short walk away
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.
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.
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.