It’s true, we admit, that Auckland’s chill and rain factor has not been at its finest lately. But that’s winter, folks. So, on a recent bloody cold and wet Saturday, we sucked it up and braved the elements, hitting the north western motorway to Riverhead to find out if Hallertau’s new biergarten (that’s German for beer garden, in case you were wondering) is all it’s cracked up to be. Short answer? Yes, it is.
Hallertau is already well known as a leader in the craft beer boom in New Zealand and recently opened a spacious biergarten. First impressions count, and here you won’t be disappointed. There’s plenty of parking at the venue and after we had run through the rain drops and down the gravel path towards the back, we were greeted by a smiling but obviously busy waitress, who planted us at the end of a long picnic table.
The outdoor area is very much a social space with its long tables and relaxed vibe. That said, there are also smaller tables which you can book and, at the other end, there’s a playground for those with sprogs.
Running along the breadth of the beer garden is a long bar and kitchen area. With an almost barn-like feel, you can watch the chefs busy at work and bartenders doing what they do best, too. There’s a gravel floor and high concrete walls surrounding the area, making it feel a little like you’re tucked away from the world, and real life can wait until Monday.
We had arrived on a dismal day and while the conditions weren’t great, there were blankets and hot water bottles for those with cold bones. A stage for live music was set up but was quickly pulled down and taken indoors when a light shower morphed into buckets of water.
It didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit, however, because well, there was beer. And food. And wine. We decided to start with the beer—we were at a brewery after all. While there are plenty of beers by the pint or jug, we opted for a tasting paddle. There are two available, and the ones we tried focused on the four beers that began the Hallertau story—1, 2, 3 and 4. Sure, they’re not so fancy by name, but rest assured, they’ve been around for a decade for a reason. Add a Pilsner, and they arrive in 100ml glasses and little cards with explanations that add even more personality to the beers.
‘There’s no artificial hoodwinking, just the simple things done properly, to guarantee hopping good beer,’ they say.
The menu is extensive and is divided into five sections. The first is sharing bites and really, the venue calls for all things shared. There’s fresh Matakana oysters, ‘shucked to order’, garlic flat bread, roasted nuts (because all beer is good with nuts) and we couldn’t go past the crisp pork belly (free range) with pickled fennel and apple fritters. We tried the rustic platter with cured meat, olives, goats cheese whip, with baba ganoush and pickle. Yu-m.
There is a pans section which includes an epic looking maximus IPA sausage coil with beer mustard, sauerkraut and flat bread. Oh, hello, there.
If you love the smoky goodness served up with anything wood fired, then you won’t be disappointed. Choose from the likes of grain finished scotch fillet with smoked jacket potato, rocket and piquant sauce or one of their totally delicious pizzas.
One of the best things about the menu, is that it matches your beer and cider with a dish—great if you’ve ordered a tasting paddle and sharing bites.
There is also a range of salads and sides, and you can finish up with a sweet when you’re done. Think banoffee mess with whisky caramel and nutty meringues or bitter chocolate crème brulee with mascarpone and amaretti crumb. If you’ve moved onto the small range of wines, then the three cheeses with spent grain crackerbreads and beer jelly might be more your thing.
All up, despite the horrendous day, the service was fast and friendly—but be warned, it may pay to call ahead and book a table because there were a number of soaking people who arrived and were subsequently turned away because there was no space left. If you’re into your beer, then you’ll love visiting this venue where you can go inside massive doors to where it is being brewed. You can also buy some to take home with you. It has a social, friendly vibe and the food is delicious. Rain or shine, the Hallertau Biergarten will bring a little bit of happiness to your otherwise busy and stressful life.
Want to know the location, opening hours and all the deets? Find Hallertau in the Directory.
Image credit: Andrew Wilson