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Bark for your beer: A look at Black Dog's new central Wellington brewery

Opening amongst the bustling, eclectic mix of residents of Wellington’s iconic Cuba Street, Black Dog Brewery is moving into a new “kennel.” But there’s a whole lot more to it than just moving to a new location.

Black Dog “top dog” Adrian Klemp says it’s the first time Black Dog has moved – and moving to Cuba Street was a priority because the street’s usual demographics fir more with Black Dog’s target market and it would be easier for people to just walk in and have a drink. “The new brewery will be a space that really compliments the area’s creative soul,” he says. “It’s the cool part of town.”

Located at 216 Cuba Street, the new brewery is a two-level Edwardian building that dates back to the 1920s. According to Klemp, a mix of raw industrial character in the ground floor brewery and tasting room with an old antique charm in the upstairs bar with 16 taps, which Klemp claims brings a relaxed, fun, and contemporary atmosphere. “It’s a very small space. It’s very intimate.”

Formerly occupied by a florist, Klemp says the small space meant careful planning had to go into maximising the use of that space. “Everything’s had to be planned as economically as possible. It’s a bit like playing Tetris.”

To further bring to life the new space, Black Dog partnered with three local artists – Kelly Spencer, Mica Still and Sean Duffell – to create a large wall mural depicting the brand’s collaborative spirit. The mural is a mix of the three styles, featuring hand-crafted lettering, bold dog characters, abstract shapes, and symmetrical patterns.

Spencer says the artists all already knew each other, but working together collaboratively was a great experience. “Collaborations are quite exciting, because you don’t always know what you’re going to get.”

Four panels make up the mural. Each features striking images of dogs and a different-coloured word, which when combined make up one of the Beatles’ most famous quotes: “Come together right now.”

Spencer adds that, when audiences glance at the mural, she hopes they’ll spend more than a quick minute taking a look, and be reminded of the benefits of collaboration, cooperation, communication and socialising.

Still – originally from Astoria, Oregon, but living in Aotearoa for about 20 years – says while there was a lot of planning involved, it only took between two-and-a-half and three days to actually paint the mural. “It was a lot of communication,” she says.

She adds it was a privilege to work with Spencer and Duffell. “We all know each other really well, but we’d never really worked professionally together,” she explains. “It was a fantastic job.”

Klemp says not only does the mural help liven up a space, but it helps Black Dog stand out as a brand – as does the whole brewery. “The new brewery is a great move for us as a brand,” he says. “It’s no secret that Wellington is the craft beer capital of New Zealand and arguably one of the best craft beer areas in the world. The move to the iconic Cuba Street is bringing us into the thick of Wellington culture and arts. It is only fitting that we incorporate some of the local creative residents into our new home and collectively celebrate Wellington by coming together.”

The brewery on the ground level will be producing small batch beers to supply their bar upstairs, as well as other outlets throughout the wider Wellington region. In addition to the drinks at the bar – which will include Black Dog’s core range, experimental one-offs and more – the food menu will feature a range of pizzas, burgers and sharing plates thanks to Cuba Street neighbours Grill Meats Beer, Wellington Seamarket and Heaven Pizza.

The plan is for the new space to open on March 23. Tuesday to Saturday hours are expected to be from 12pm-late. Sunday hours are slated to be from 12pm to 5pm. And just in time for the opening, Black Dog plans on releasing a new Belgian-style IPA.

Woof.

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