The brick clad building housing Brew on Quay was originally erected in 1903 as the head office for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (i.e. Chelsea Sugar). As the sugar business moved across the harbour, it went on to become a hub for police on the look out for sugared-up wharf criminals, before closing in 1993. With a mutual love of beer culture, three friends going by the title ‘The Brew Boys’ eventually took it in their stride to transform the historic landmark into a watering hole for the masses of the inner city.
Split into several areas, the bar retains the grandiose appeal of the building’s heritage with exposed brick work and solid wooden frame, while a modern charm is created through artwork and furnishings. One room in particular has an appearance similar to that of a gentlemen’s smokers room, complete with chandelier, large couches and extravagant mirrors. The stairs lead to one of the more sought after seating areas, an covered outdoor area.
Tipping their hat to the address (102 Quay Street), the drinks list features 102 beers. In addition to the ten on tap, the fridge is stocked multiple bottled varieties, spanning all beer genres: porters, stouts, ales, wheat, pilsners, lagers, ciders and lambic beers. To assist with the overwhelming fact that you actually have to make a choice from that many drinks, there are detailed and sometimes hilarious notes about the characteristics of each drop; from a peat smoked ale inspired by French techno and the whisky of Scotland’s west coast to a doughnut pretzel, raspberry and chocolate ale from Oregon labelled as “ebony in colour and earthy in flavour,” and a Danish lycée beer described as, “like a beer kitten, playing with a ball of yarn made of flavour in your mouth.”
Aside from the beer, there’s wine, spirits and all the usual things you find in a bar; but lets be honest, it’s all about the beer (did I mention they have beer?). Like the drink, the kitchen menu is fairly overwhelming. You won’t be stuck with normal pub food, but given a taste of nearly every continent on earth. With produce from local suppliers and free range farms, the chefs pump out international drinking food like smoked German bratwurst, ceviche, tempura prawns, Louisiana Buffalo wings, Mediterranean meatballs, and Thai red curry. Within the gastropub bracket, fish and chips, steak, burgers and sandwiches.
Once you’ve pegged exactly what it is you’d like to eat and drink, you’ll have the task of deciding where to sit. Regardless, the location proves well as a pre-gig drinking spot being a stone’s throw from Vector Arena, and will give you an easy exit to the ferry building or Britomart Transport Centre for a lift home.