I recently popped along to the new Black Dog Brewery up Cuba Street to see how it compared to the previous iteration in Blair Street.
Quite favourably I have to say (as a non-beery girl).
Downstairs is the micro-brewery with lots of shiny tanks, and staff happy to talk to you all day long about their brews, and guide you through tastings.
And upstairs is a lounge bar with some very groovy art, where you can relax and try something new.
The brewery’s stated aim is to ‘create interesting alternatives to the range of beers already available. Some will work and some won’t but if we don’t try we’ll never know. Our mission is to always be interesting and intrepid, always act independently and stay in tune with what the drinkers want’.
In line with that, despite them being part of the DB family, Bar Manager Mat tells me the Cuba Street microbrewery is seen as the innovation hub for the brand where they create to their heart’s content and don’t have to worry about production runs or marketing. When they strike one that ticks all the boxes it then gets passed off to the mothership to deal with from there.
So, as well as the core beers (like Chomp – their first ever brew – or The Dogfather), you’ll get new ones each season (like the Pug Life an extra pale ale, or Hop Boxer a fresh hop IPA). In fact, when we visited right in the middle of Hopstock, the Hop Boxer had been so popular they were eeking it out in tasting size glasses only until they could whip some more up!
One of the things the staff are very keen on is helping you try something new, starting with what type of flavours in general or densities you like and they’ll whip out various things that might be of interest (for example the Saisson has banana notes, who’d’ve known). If you go away saying you’ve had a great experience and tried something new, they’ll consider their job well done.
They’re also keen on collaboration with other local businesses, including coffee and chocolate magic with Havana and WCF respectively, food from the Wellington Seamarket next door or Pandoro (beer and barley bread, and pizza bases), and I believe there are other collaborations with the likes of Grill Meats Beer coming soon.
You’ll also find exhibitions by different artists throughout the brewery and bar, acting like an informal Cuba Street Art Gallery (now that’s my kinda gallery!).
Tuesday to Sunday, noon until the wee smalls.