New Queenstown bar crafts its niche


A new Queenstown bar is hopping on the fast-growing craft beer bandwagon.

Smiths Craft Beer House opens tomorrow night in the upstairs Shotover Street premises recently vacated by pop-up bar The Find.

“The craft beer sector is one of he biggest growth sectors within food and beverage and we just saw an opportunity to expand that into the tourism hub of New Zealand,” co-owner Pascal Fillion says.

“I just think people’s palates are changing – they’re wanting different things.”

Former Canadian Fillion and his German-born partner Jen Ernst moved to NZ seven years ago and own a successful craft beer bar and restaurant on the Wellington waterfront.

They’ll have 18 mostly NZ craft beers on tap, which they’ll rotate, but they’ll particularly promote beers produced by local companies Altitude Brewing Studios and Queenstown Brewers.

Fillion says their beers will be a little dearer than those mass-produced by the brewery giants.

“Craft beer actually uses real ingredients, which cost a lot, and they’re done on a very small scale.”

The bar will also sell take-home flagons.

On the food front, Fillion promises “a lot of handcrafted but very simple beer-orientated food like big wholesome sandwiches, some good bar snacks and some nice mains”.

‘Smiths’ in the pub’s name alludes to the origin of ‘smiths’ in the likes of blacksmithing, for example, and its link to ‘forging’ beer.

That’s also inspired the timber-dominated fitout, Fillion says.

“We’ve tried to create a bit of a workshop feel.”

He’s unfazed that he’s opening in a resort saturated with bars.

“We’re trying to complement the offering, we’re not trying to take away from anyone else.

“We do have a place in Wellington where there are over 700 bars – it’s not exactly easy there either.”