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15 Aug 2017
In the last few years, Hannahs Laneway has gone from an unassuming alleyway to a serious culinary destination. Having added the brilliant Shepherd restaurant to the mix about a year ago, the opening of Fortune Favours brewery and bar this week is the cherry on top of this delicious spot.
We all know that fortune favours the bold, and the brewery's CEO Shannon Thorpe is living that mantra. After a 15-year career working for breweries, he took the leap and decided to open up his own this year. He's also recruited some bigwigs of the brewing world to help him out - former Black Dog brewer Dale Cooper has come on board as head brewer.
Shannon and his team have worked away to renovate the historic Leeds St building that houses their brewery, which was previously home to a dipstrippers and furniture restoration business. They've honoured its industrial heritage while still putting their own mark on it (rather literally in the case of the FF stamp on the exterior). Shannon says the location was a massive appeal, and taking on the character building building was a unique opportunity to be part of the laneway of artisan producers.
There was a short delay while they waiting for their liquor license to come through, but Fortune Favours opened last week just in time for the influx of beer tourists who were visiting for the joyous celebration of brews that is Beervana. Fortune Favours is both a working brewery and a bar, and it's always great being able to see a product being made a few metres from where you drink it.
There are two bars - one upstairs and one downstairs. I spied lucky 13 taps - at the moment five of them are pouring Fortune Favours beers, and there are eight guest taps from a variety of NZ breweries. When I visited the lineup included Fork Brewing, Cassels & Sons and Heyday (who are soon to open their own brewery nearby). I love The Naturalist, an unfiltered pale ale that has whiffs of pine needle and tastes resinous and citrussy.
I was very excited when I heard about Fortune Favours's food concept - vegans, look away, as their entire menu is based on meat and cheese, which Shannon says he believes is the best food to match with beer. Beer and cheese are individually two of my favourite things to consume, and they're stellar together. The menu includes cheese and meat boards ($30-45), toasted sandwiches ($12-16), whole baked wheels of cheese ($15), and fondue ($15-28). You can also build your own platter from the meat and cheese bar, and there are plenty of chutneys and accompaniments to choose from. If you just can't choose, the tasting paddle for $32 includes four small beers and four matching cheeses or meats.
Shannon recommended that I try The Gatekeeper, the delicious hefty porter made with cacao nibs and local coffee, matched with a bit of blue cheese from the cheese bar. I don't need telling twice. The rich yet approachable brew was ideal with the pungent Kapiti Kikorangi blue. We also dived into a wheel of liquefied goats' cheese covered in thyme and honey with crusty bread - an ideal match to the sound of rain on the roof on a chilly Wellington evening. The roof terrace was empty on such a cold night, but it looks like it'll be beaut in summer.
With a few new breweries on the way and Garage Project's Wild Workshop just across the road, the Ghuznee/Leeds area is continuing to go from strength to strength. All your beer needs are certainly covered in this one block.
Fortune Favours, 7 Leeds Street
Opening hours: Mon - Sun, 11am till late