First Look: 16 Tun
By Catherine McGregor. Photos by Ken Downie.
The name might be inspired by a classic country and western drinking song (“You load sixteen tons, what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt”), but 16 Tun is not your everyday swill-house. Tucked into a space beneath the ASB HQ in North Wharf, the interior is a mix of rough woodwork and lots of glowing copper, like being inside a giant brew kettle. Behind the bar, you’ll find more than 50 of New Zealand’s best beers in the fridge, and another 10 on tap.
To come up with the list, manager and craft beer pro Andrew Ranum tasted around 120 local brews and cherry picked the best beers in each category. The taps feature a range of styles, from Epic’s hoppy-as Hop Zombie to Hallertau’s easy-drinking No 1 Kölsch. “I call beers like Hallertau No. 1 and Epic Lager [available in bottles] ‘gateway beers’”, says Ranum. “They’re a good introduction to independent brewing for people who think they don’t like craft beers.”
Making craft beer approachable is one of 16 Tun’s guiding principles. The beer list gives smart, easy to understand descriptions so you’ll never find yourself sipping on a blow-your-head-off double IPA when what you wanted was a crisp and quaffable pilsner. Staff were put through a three-day “craft beer boot camp” prior to opening and are happy to talk you through the list, which also includes a selection of boutique New Zealand wines, soft drinks like Karma Cola and a good range of whiskeys, the connoisseur’s beer chaser of choice.
The food menu is divided into “half tun” bar snacks and small plates, like fish sliders with preserved lemon and homemade mayo, horopito-spiced chicken bites, and Ruakaka paua fritters with lemon aioli. “Full tun” mains – classic Kiwi pub meals like steak and burgers, plus vegetarian options – are listed in the menu alongside recommended beer matches.
For our photos, Ranum chose some beers to accompany selections from the small plates menu. With the fish sliders, he recommended a Liberty Brewing Halo Pilsner, whose zesty, lemony notes works well with fish. A plate of medium-rare Alpine Origin Merino lamb on parsnip puree was matched with a glass of Nelson brewery Townshend’s ESB (Extra Special Bitter). “English ales and roast meat are a classic combination,” Ranum explains. “The malt works well with roasted, caramelised flavours, and the natural carbonation helps cut through the fattiness of the meat.” For the horopito chicken, he chose an 8 Wired HopWired IPA. “Spicy flavours need a strong, hoppy beer,” he says. “When you drink lager with a hot or spicy dish, you’re doing nothing but quenching your thirst.”
Open 7 days, 11.30am to late.