Pouring fresh craft beer from the tap in Queenstown
Pouring fresh craft beer from the tap in Queenstown

Luxury Adventures are doing a series of interviews with some of our key suppliers looking at the different aspects of their lives and how these influence the experiences they offer. Hop On Beer Tours are located in Queesntown, South Island, New Zealand.

Lewis Bensemans relationship with beer

Being born and raised in Queenstown and working in tourism for the last 9 years,  I have vast experience with international guests. Perhaps this is the reason why I’ve caught the travel bug. Much like our visitors to Queenstown, I work hard to save money to go on overseas adventures.

Whilst travelling throughout the states and the UK, I was frequently asked which type of beer I was into in which I would bluntly answer “Whatever is on sale”. I was quickly shown that, there are many other options, delicious exciting options. From there I was opened to the world of craft beer and the amazing flavours that you can experience.

Getting started on Queenstown beer tours

On my return to Queenstown I was told about the half dozen or more breweries over the hill in Wanaka and how there were whispers of more opening in Queenstown. I soon realised all of these people from craft beer destinations were coming to visit here and that someone would have to showcase these new gems to the thirsty tourists. From this the creation of Hop On Beer Tours Queenstown was born.

The breweries

Cargo Brewery has been running the former Waitiri Creek Wines church hall, turned tasting room for the last year and a half. This beautiful setting is in the secluded Gibbston valley with few buildings visible. Cargo has a world class kitchen with a selection of Waitiri Creek Wines and the very popular Cargo Beers. An exclusive feature for Hop On Beer Tours is the Food & Beer match a highlight of the trip. Merin & Jenny from Cargo will talk you through the taste of their beer and how it matches with the four provided dishes and includes a delicious Pale Ale.

Smaller microbreweries

There are other small microbreweries around such as Lake & Wood Brewery which was recently featured in the Mind & Food Magazine. Alongside Oprah, Arrowtown Brewing co and Queenstown Brewers. Their beer is featured in great restaurants in and around Arrowtown and also plenty of bars in Queenstown.

One of the many micro breweries you'll come across on your New Zealand beer tour with Luxury Adventures
One of the many micro breweries you’ll come across on your New Zealand beer tour with Luxury Adventures

Altitude Brewery is Queenstown’s big award winner. They recently had a sticky date brown ale entered in at New Zealand’s largest beer festival, Beervana in Wellington which finished in the top 10 for it’s category. Altitudes beer is featured frequently all over the Wakatipu basin. It’s in many of the Gibbston Valley wineries, often at Smith’s Craft Beer House, Arrowtown’s Fork & Tap and Atlas, as well as the ice rink and many bars around town. Altitude has a beautiful Brewery located at the Frankton Marina which looks out over the Remarkables and probably is one of the best microbreweries in the country. Their Goldpanners Profit Larger and their Persistent High Hefeweizen are my two favourite Altitude Beers.

Canyon’s Food & Beer Company has opened in June and is located on the Shotover River right beside the world’s most famous jet boat ride. An amazing location and a large kitchen and brewery which is a real asset for Arthurs Point & Queenstown. As a dark beer man, I would have to choose Canyon’s Porter as my favourite.

Hidden local Queenstown brewery

Opened on the same week as HOBTQ, Searchlight brewery was also started by a young chap named Lewis. His beer has taken off and the tasting room is frequently full. With 6 exciting beers on tap including a Saison, Spiced Winter Ale and the all classics, it’s a great spot. Hidden in Queenstown’s industrial area it’s not a spot any tourists stumble across. It’s a real locals delight.

Tasting the local brews in the Queenstown sun
Tasting the local brews in the Queenstown sun

New Zealand beer tour

This New Zealand beer tour is a great afternoon activity. Not only is it exposing visitors to great local beer, it’s driving you through places that you would otherwise not experience. Touring at slow pace with 3 stops over around 4 hours, so time is ample. Being born and raised in Queenstown, I’m passionate about the area and love people having a good time here. Showcasing Queenstown is a joy of mine.

Have a look into a real life working brewery, check out the ingredients, process and differences in making the different types of beer. Feel free to ask any questions along the way. If beer isn’t your thing, don’t worry. We have a cider, wine, sometimes mulled wine and alcoholic ginger beer. 

Check out merchandise that the hosts have to offer and if you’re still curious, feel free to sample some more beer after your tasting. The highlights of the trip are the beer and food matched lunch, the brewery tour and the opportunity to take photos at different stops along the way. After the trip if you still have a thirst, grab a try before your buy tasting at Smith’s Craft Beer House located in central Queenstown.

Lewis Benseman is the owner & operator of Hop on Beer Tours

Luxury Adventures Tailoring luxury travel in New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific Islands since 1999

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