First of all: what's a dive bar? Why "free"?
A dive bar is just the American term for your local pub. It's apt, considering Golding's functions as the neighbourhood magnet for beer lovers (and being Wellington, we are many in number). It's basically the heart of the Hannah's Laneway precinct, one of the first spots to move in when the area began to get hip a few years ago.
And the "free" comes from the way Golding's operates: totally free-house. It means that the beer selection is anything goes; that the bar isn't tied contractually to serve a particular brewery's beer. This is great for us, the loyal patrons — it means an ever-changing selection of beers and wines (both natty and normal), whatever takes the fancy of the beer and wine passionate staff. You're in amazing hands here. A few of the staff even have beer blogs.
On tap, you could find anything on offer. It's seriously always a good day on the taps at Golding's. With a thumb firmly on the pulse on what's good, what's interesting and what's new, this place is probably your best bet to find something new and ace to try. Breweries like North End, Garage Project, Liberty Brewing, Hallertau, Kereru, and Choice Bros are frequent features. The Freckled Frog Feijoa cider from The Mussel Inn is also a great bet if you're not into beer. In terms of wines, you'll find interesting combos of biodynamic offerings sitting beside New Zealand classics — think Mahi, Dog Point or Framingham paired with picks like Hermit Ram and Kindeli. Also, their prosecco is always good — and comes in a coupe.
Okay, libations aside now, we also have to talk about the pizza. Pizza Pomodoro and Golding's have an agreement where you can order the pizza from the bar and they run it over from Pomodoro (handily situated across the courtyard) when it's done. Having frequented Golding's enough to become intimately acquainted with the pizza offering, I'd recommend the Margarita, Siciliana, Ortolana, Inferno, Cinque Formaggi (which translates to four cheeses, okay), and the Funghi Bianca. I once took an Italian to Golding's and ordered him a pizza and he cried of homesickness when he ate it. Enough said.
If you're crazy enough to not be able to manage a pizza when you go, Golding's has still got you. Proper Crisps and Twisties (sometimes Burger Rings) are available by the bowlful. As are some really top-notch non alcoholic drinks, because as we all know — it's cool to be responsible when you're drinking.
Image: Kim Laurenson.