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A Guide to Nelson’s Best Breweries!

Last Updated: 14th July, 2023

Welcome to the vibrant craft beer scene in Nelson-Tasman, a region that is renowned for its exceptional brews and unique beer culture. Nestled in the beautiful landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island, Nelson boasts an extraordinary combination of natural beauty, a rich brewing heritage, and an abundance of fresh hops that make it a true haven for beer enthusiasts.

Taproom at a brewery in nelson

Best Breweries to visit in Nelson!

The craft beer scene in Nelson is marked by a spirit of innovation and creativity. Local breweries are constantly pushing the boundaries of traditional brewing techniques to create new and exciting flavors. Whether you’re a fan of classic beer styles or seeking bold experimental brews, you’ll find a diverse range of options to tantalize your taste buds. Here is a complete guide to the different breweries found in Nelson and the surrounding area!

1. McCashin’s Brewery

McCashin’s Brewery is a well-established and highly regarded brewery located in Nelson, New Zealand. Known for their commitment to quality and craftsmanship, McCashin’s has carved out a special place in the Nelson craft beer scene.

Must-Try Brews:

  • Mac’s Gold Lager: Mac’s Gold Lager is a classic beer that has become an iconic brew in New Zealand. It is widely regarded as one of McCashin’s Brewery’s flagship beers. This golden lager is crisp, refreshing, and expertly crafted, making it a favorite among lager enthusiasts.
  • Stoke Amber Ale: When it comes to innovative craft beers, the Stoke Amber Ale from McCashin’s Brewery shines. This beer showcases the brewery’s creativity and willingness to experiment with flavors. Stoke Amber Ale is characterized by its rich copper color and complex malt profile. It combines the toasty and caramel notes of specialty malts with a moderate hop presence, resulting in a well-balanced and flavorful beer.

History of McCashin’s Brewery

McCashin’s Brewery has a rich history that dates back to 1980 when Terry McCashin, along with his wife Bev, founded the iconic Rochdale Cider Factory. In 1981, they expanded their beverage offerings by adding beer production to their repertoire, becoming one of New Zealand’s pioneering craft breweries. McCashin’s Brewery gained further recognition when they launched their flagship beer, Mac’s Gold, which quickly became a beloved brew nationwide.

Brewery in nelson

Where to find McCashin’s Brewery!

You can find their brewery and tasting room at 660 Main Road, Stoke. The tasting room offers a warm and inviting atmosphere where you can sample their diverse range of beers, including their popular Stoke range. The friendly and knowledgeable staff are always ready to guide you through the different beer styles and share the stories behind each brew.

2. Spring + Fern Brewing Co

Sprig + Fern Brewery is a prominent and highly regarded brewery located in Nelson, New Zealand. Known for their exceptional craft beers and cozy, welcoming atmosphere, Sprig + Fern has established itself as a beloved destination for beer enthusiasts.

beer tasting at a brewery in nelson

One of the standout features of Sprig + Fern Brewery is their commitment to using only the finest ingredients in their brews. They are known for their use of locally sourced hops, malt, and other quality ingredients, which contribute to the distinct flavors and aromas found in their beers. The brewery takes pride in crafting beers that showcase the natural beauty and flavors of the Nelson region.

Must-Try Brews:

  • Tasman Reserve Pale Ale: This is a classic pale ale with a hoppy character and a refreshing taste. It showcases a blend of New Zealand and American hops, providing a balanced bitterness and citrusy aromas. The Tasman Reserve Pale Ale is a staple in Sprig + Fern’s core range and a popular choice among beer enthusiasts.
  • Headliner Ft. HZH-106: A limited release beer utilizing a brand-new trial hop variety! With an incredible aroma of fruit salad, with bang-bang tropical notes and citrus notes, this is one you don’t want to miss!

Where to find Sprig + Fern Brewing Co

Sprig + Fern have a number of tavern around Nelson where you can try a drop of two of their delicious beers! Whether you are in the center city or out by the beach, there will be a Sprig + Fern near ya!

3. Eddyline Brewery

Eddyline Brewery is a 100% family owned brewery based in the heart of Nelson! Opened in 2016 by Mic and Molley Haynekamp, it features boldly-hopped ales and crisp, refreshing lagers. The taproom has an awesome vibe, and it is the perfect place to enjoy a pizza and a cold refreshing beer after a day exploring Nelson!

Must-Try Brews:

  • Summer in the Citra Hazy IPA: A bold, hazy IPA that is massive on the hop aroma! Citra hops dominate this beer with a mellow maltiness to bring it all together.
  • Jolly Roger Black Lager: Made with German lager yeast, all NZ Gladfield malts and NZ hops, this easy drinking beer has a nice roasty maltiness finishing smooth and crisp!

Cool stuff about Eddyline Brewery:

Gluten-free(ish): All of the beers produced at Eddyline Brewery are brewed with Brewers Clarex®. But Harriet, what does this mean? Well, my friends, i’ll tell ya! This reduces the gluten content in the beers to veeeeery small amounts (5-20ppm), making them a lot friendlier for those individuals who don’t tolerate gluten!

Environmentally-friendly: This brewery uses solar power to brew their beers! They also capture and collect the C02 produced during fermentation to recycle! Cool stuff, I love this!

Pizza: This brewery makes banging wood-fire pizzas to go along with their amazing ales and lagers. I mean, match made in heaven, amiright?!

pizza at a brewery in nelson

Where to find Eddyline Brewery

Eddyline Brewery have two locations where you can try their awesome beers!

  1. Eddyline Brewery Taproom and Taqueria is located at 15 Elms Street, Stoke, Nelson
  2. The original Eddyline Pizzaria is found at 8 Champion Road, Richmond, Nelson

4. Hop Federation Brewery

A brewery based right smack-bang in the heart of hop country, you know the beers at Hop Federation are gonna be good! The brewery was founded in 2009 by Simon Nicholas and wife Nicki Nicholas, who shared a passion for brewing and hops.

pouring beers at a brewery in nelson

As the name suggests, Hop Federation Brewery places a strong emphasis on hops. They source their hops locally, taking advantage of the Nelson-Tasman region’s reputation for producing some of the finest hops in the world. Their beers often feature vibrant hop flavors and aromas.

Must-Try Brews:

  • Hop Federation APA: This beer is a flagship offering from Hop Federation Brewery. Expect a refreshing and hop-forward experience with citrusy, tropical, and floral hop flavors complemented by a caramel malt backbone. The Hop Federation APA is a great choice for those who enjoy a classic pale ale style.
  • Red IPA: Red IPA is their signature beer, and a bloody good one! Grapefruit, passion fruit flavours with a toasty malt undertone, yum.

Hop Federation Brewery is known for its innovative approach to brewing. They continuously experiment with different hop varieties, brewing techniques, and flavor combinations to create unique and exciting beers. They strive to push the boundaries of traditional brewing styles while maintaining a commitment to quality.

Where to find Hop Federation Brewery

Hop Federation Brewery has a taproom located at their brewery in Riwaka. Visitors can enjoy a selection of their beers on-site, often including limited releases and brewery-exclusive brews. The taproom provides an opportunity to experience the flavors and ambiance of the brewery firsthand.

eating and drinking at a brewery in nelson

5. Golden Bear Brewing

Golden Bear Brewing Co is found in Port Mapau, right on the beautiful Mapau Wharf! During the summer, it’s the perfect spot to sit and have a frosty cold beer while listening to live music and looking over over the water!

Must-Try Brews:

  • Death Hammer APA: a seasonal, Hoppy and Fragrant IPA, which is perfect for summer!
  •  American Wheat Ale: one of their most popular beers, with a beautiful golden colour and sessionable tart finish

Where to find Golden Bear Brewing

Golden Bear Brewery is located at the Mapau Wharf, around 25 minutes drive from Nelson!

Nelson: The home of Hops

One of the key factors that sets Nelson apart is its status as a hub for hop cultivation. The region’s fertile soil and favorable climate provide an ideal environment for growing hops, and Nelson has become one of the leading hop-growing regions in New Zealand. The local hop farms produce a wide variety of hop strains, which impart distinct flavors and aromas to the beers brewed here. From the citrusy and tropical notes of Motueka hops to the floral and spicy characteristics of Nelson Sauvin hops, the region’s hops contribute to the unique and memorable taste profiles of Nelson craft beers.

hops grown and used at breweries in nelson

Brewing History and Tradition in Nelson

Nelson has a long-standing tradition of brewing, dating back to the establishment of New Zealand’s first craft brewery, McCashin’s, in 1980. This early start helped lay the foundation for the growth of the craft beer industry in the region. Over the years, Nelson has continued to nurture and support breweries, leading to the emergence of numerous talented brewers and innovative brewing techniques.

Nelson’s Beer Festivals!

Nelson, New Zealand is renowned for its vibrant beer culture, and it hosts several beer festivals throughout the year. These festivals attract both locals and visitors who are eager to explore the region’s diverse craft beer offerings. Here’s a list of some of Nelson’s craft beer festivals:

beer from a brewery in nelson at a Nelson beer festival!


Marchfest is an annual beer and music festival held in Nelson. It showcases the finest craft beers from Nelson and around New Zealand. Every year a select group of micro breweries produce a new beer for this event – so you can be a part of their debut! Attendees can sample a wide range of beers while enjoying live music performances and delicious food. The festival promotes sustainability and encourages the use of reusable drinking vessels.

Winter Ale Festival

The Winter Ale Festival takes place in Two Thumbs – Nelson during the winter months. It focuses on showcasing darker, richer beers such as stouts, porters, and winter ales. The festival features numerous guest breweries offering their seasonal and specialty brews, along with live music, good food, and a cozy winter atmosphere.

Hello beer lovers! Thank you for reading my post, and I hope you are excited to go out and explore the amazing craft breweries of Nelson!

If you are looking for other things to do in Nelson (or want to send your other half off for an hour or two) then check out my post here! 🙂

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