Galbraith’s Alehouse is a rare gem amongst the high-flying cohorts of the Auckland bar scene. It’s a pub’s pub, a drinker’s haven, standing strong with forward facing pub food and proper pints of frosty bliss, a far cry from several other options you’ll find across the city.
As soon as you walk up the stairs into the transformed grandiose heritage building (it used to be the Grafton Library) you’re presented with a view of the bar’s own ‘real ale’ and lager brewery. Kegs, sacks of hops and, what I can only assume is barley or malt, lie ready to be crafted into a fine brew, and during working man’s hours you may be lucky enough to see the resident brew master in action.
The nostalgic theme carries through the swinging doors into two large rooms. Bulky wooden tables occupy the floor space and the décor radiates a warm homely vibe. In the second room it’s not strange to find the gathering of a local Scrabble club. The new addition of an outdoor garden deck is nice, though I wish I’d made better use during the summer hours.
The list of local, international and boutique bottled beers is extensive, the latter ringing in at close to 100 different options. The best place to start is the chalkboard displaying the latest guest brews on tap. It even comes with info on the alcohol percentage, glass type and at times - the temperature. A pint of in-house Galbraiths beer starts from $8.50 for a Bob Hudson’s Bitter and peaks at $9.50 a pop for a Dockerty’s IPA. In this instance, house brew the Old Glory - New American Ale ($9.20) led well into Wakachangi Lager, the beer made famous by comedian Leigh Hart and marketed as “a South Otago beer with North Canterbury flavours, brewed by a West Coaster with the ol' misty waters of the Waikato". Guest beer Funk Estate ‘Oh Lordy’ Pale Ale from the Wellington start-up was also a nice option ($11).
If the info-laden menu becomes all too much, the clued-up staff are on hand and willing to assist with your personal preference. For those with a thirst for something other than beer, there are a few options including multiple wine varieties and non-alcoholic beverages, though beer is by far the main attraction.
At this stage food was a murky blur on the horizon, however I can attest from previous visits that it has indeed taken a step in the right direction thanks to chef Beki Lamb (formerly of Ponsonby's Sunday Painters and Ella restaurants) taking the helm. It could be best described as ‘pub grub with a modern twist'. Mains stick to traditional fare including Bangers & Mash, Fish & Chips, stepping out of the box with the wild boar burger, accompanied with garlic aioli, fennel, apple slaw and onion rings. Starters traverse a range of nations - fish tacos, jerk chicken and wontons.
Given the busy location, parking can sometimes be an issue, however the bar has a handful of parks allocated in the adjacent lot, available by simply asking for a pass.
The best bit is…takeaways are available in 1L and 2.5L flagons.