The Barrel Room is a knowledge hub of craft beer and fine wine matched with fantastic food.

WORDS MONIQUE BALVERT-O’CONNOR / PHOTOS KENRICK RHYS

Locals and holidaymakers looking for a notable dining experience need go no further than Tauranga’s The Barrel Room.

Home to craft beer, whisky, fine wine, tasty food and live music, The Barrel Room on Tauranga’s Wharf Street has been wowing people since it opened its doors two years ago. Driven by a passion for finely crafted things, owners Carolyn and Stewart Gebbie came to Tauranga to offer the city something new.

The locals are immensely grateful and appreciate that Carolyn and Stewart have excellent drink, food, service and atmosphere on tap. For this couple, the business is a marriage made in heaven. Carolyn loves wine, while Stewart loves beer – and he certainly knows about it; he co-owns Wellington craft brewery Te Aro Brewing Co, and loves how The Barrel Room is a celebration of great beer.

The selection is great, with 16 independent taps, which means the Gebbies can serve what they believe are New Zealand’s best beers. They have four taps dedicated to local brewers, and use the Untappd app to let customers know which beers and ciders they have on tap at any time. It’s little wonder The Barrel Room is a hit among lovers of craft beer.

The same high level of attention is given to wine. Carolyn explains the Coravin Wine System is in use at The Barrel Room. This allows wine to be poured by the glass without the rest of the bottle spoiling. This wine preservation system is like a favourite appliance, she says.

“We currently offer 63 wines by the glass and more by the bottle. We regularly make changes to our list to provide interest and the opportunity to try new wines,” Carolyn proudly explains.

Unsure which wine, beer, whisky or gin (served in crystal, no less) to sample? The Barrel Room provides the perfect solution with its ‘tasting flights’.

“It’s a great discovery experience. For example, the wine tasting flight menu offers a responsible three half-pours. Come in, bring your friends, and ask for a tasting flight,” Carolyn says. Advice will be on-hand, she adds, without the need to listen to a winemaker talk for an hour!

The tasting flights – for wine, beer, or spirits – are proving an excellent idea for work functions (think Christmas), stag dos, hens’ nights, and just fun gatherings in general.

The Barrel Room is open until late, so it’s a great place to head to after late-night entertainment in town. Or come to The Barrel Room for entertainment – there’s live music on Saturdays and sometimes Fridays too.

Stewart and Carolyn say their aim is to do food and drinks well and to pair them well. The food options include: beef and blue burgers; Thai beef salad; various pizzas (with handmade bases); steak, fish and chips, and lighter offerings like calamari, and build-your-own platters.

“As requested by our regulars, we have introduced a dessert menu,” Carolyn says, adding that matcha panna cotta with yuzu and rosemary crumble is among the favourites.

The menu isn’t complete without excellent service and a great environment, Carolyn and Stewart say. All staff are trained to ensure the service they offer is first-rate. As for offering an atmospheric venue, The Barrel Room’s eye-catching décor includes barrels on the back wall, and the front of the bar features a patchwork of wine barrel staves – a feature created by Stewart.

It’s a cosy and inviting environment in winter, while, in summer, if the sun’s out, then The Barrel Room has a courtyard for drinks in the sunshine. In fact, that was a great attractor when the Gebbies were deciding where to set up their venture. Just perfect, they decided, and thousands agree.