Since Irish pub O’Carrolls underwent a transformation in 2013, craft beer fanatics haven’t been shy in expressing their love for its replacement. So much so that Vultures’ Lane patrons regularly overflow from the bar’s small outdoor area into the neighbouring laneway. The title ‘Vultures’ comes from the title Vulcan Lane was given in the 1920's due to the gathering of unsavoury characters: streetwalkers, sailors, journalists.
Despite the new signage out front, upgraded taps and the addition of craft beer paraphernalia on the walls, little has changed inside the inner-city pub. It still retains a homely ol’ English pub feel (weathered and dark), and attracts a predominantly male clientele. Bulky wooden furnishings take up much of the upper and lower floors, giving punters a good amount of space to find a seat or lay down their beer; and great beer they have indeed.
Twenty one ever-changing taps make up the lineup, in addition to over 100 bottles in the fridge. Tap varieties are listed up on a blackboard behind the bar, alongside the corresponding alcohol percentage; a list of the bottled assortment could not be tracked down. Glasses come in 330 - 425ml serves, ranging from $7.50 to $11 and $9 to $13. Alongside staple craft brewers: 8 Wired, Epic, Tuatara, Three Boys, new additions and brewery takeover nights regularly keep things fresh. The current hand-pulled option is the Nelson-made Townshend Old House ESB which scooped Best in Class at the 2013 Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards. Also doubling as an off license, all bottled varieties are available for takeaway between 11am - 11pm; so you can forge ahead with a civilised beer tasting party on the kerb or in your own home.
The food menu is generously priced and works as perfect drinking fodder. Bite-sized tacos will set you back $3 each, while the intriguing Jerk chicken and kiwifruit salad is $12. Between the novel umami burger ($13) and duck burrito ($14), you’ll also find your traditional greasy pub snacks like pies and fries.
While it could be improved with a new lick of paint, Vultures' sure knows its market and pulls it all off with a rare kind of dusty finesse. It's grassroots but a little bit fancy.