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Brilliant beverages – Taupō’s best local liquid refreshments

Welcome to the world of Taupō's most captivating liquid refreshments, where every sip tells a story of passion, craftsmanship, and local flavour.

From the award-winning 5 Mile Distilling, born from a lockdown pastime, to the adventurous Beehave Meadery, sparked by an accidental beekeeping encounter, Taupō's beverage scene is as diverse as it is delightful. Immerse yourself in these tales of craft, community, and creativity, where each drink is not just a beverage but a journey through the Taupō region's vibrant local scene.

5 Mile Distilling

Former Ironman competitor Scott Forsythe credits Covid lockdown and a distracting distilling video with sparking his gin venture.

The information technology whiz stumbled on the how-to video when he had time on his hands and began experimenting almost immediately. Nineteen attempts later, he finally had a tipple he liked and 5 Mile Gin was born.

Soon after, his 5 Mile Original Gin won a gold medal and was named best overall London Dry gin at the New Zealand Spirits Awards.

Scott’s wife, Kim Forsythe, is the force behind Taupō’s beloved Baked With Love café, cakery and culinary business. Together, the pair hope to venture into vodka, whisky and rum distilling. They also plan to open a cellar door, host distillery tours and open a bar and gin school. Meanwhile, you can find 5 Mile Gin at most bars, eateries and stores like The Merchant.

Beehave Craft Meadery

Accidental beekeeper Jay Bennett launched a meadery several years after finding a swarm of bees in the wall of his house. The former rafting guide progressed from brewing honey-based liquor in his home kitchen to winning a string of awards for his meads, now served from his tasting room in Taupō.

Jay utilises his own honey and a range of handpicked additives, including citrus from the lemon tree in his backyard and chilli peppers from a friend’s garden. His ‘fever dream’ chilli-chocolate mead teams tawari honey with ‘yellow fever’ chillies and cacao nibs. The sparkling lemon mead is non-alcoholic.

Visitors can take a guided meadery tour, which includes honey tastings as well as mead sampling.

Crafty Trout

Stairs next to the Crafty Trout gift store lead to a fishing lodge-themed pub with an on-site brewery and hands-on filler.

Dark porter ‘Sinker’ and ‘Downrigger’ lagered ale are served on hand-carved wooden chairs in front of the fireplace or on the patio overlooking a park. The beverage range includes Granny Smith apple cider and a smoky, alcohol-free ginger that uses vastly less sugar than regular ginger beer.

Visitors can also choose a vessel and a beverage, attach their own label and cap their favourite brew to take home. Owner and Rebecca Draper-Kidd recommends anglers grab a ‘Line’ Taupō Pale Ale to accompany locally caught trout. Or stay and enjoy their brew with the loaded schnitzel house specialty.

Rebecca knows how to look after people. Her parents opened Taupō’s first motel, and she has been immersed in hospitality all her life.

Volcanic Coffee

Community matters as much as coffee to the family behind Volcanic Coffee.

Chief roaster Jimmy Baker gives coffee grinds to a Taupō community garden and beans to his local hospice and helicopter rescue charities. His donated coffee sacks have been used to help bind some of the town’s famed cycle trails and as fundraisers for a native bird rescue service.

Jimmy’s parents, Colin and Lynette Baker help out by delivering coffee around the region while their son focusses on roasting Volcanic Coffee beans that are “erupting with flavour”.

Visit the Bakers’ coffee cart at Market Central on Sunday mornings, where anyone presenting a reusable cup can expect a discount. Otherwise, seek out their beans at local cafes, retailers and coffee carts.

A collaboration with Taupō’s Lakeman Brewing netted a gold medal at the Australian International Beer Awards for a coffee-laced chocolate imperial stout, The Hairy Wonka.

Lakeman Brewing Co. 

Beer-brewing farmer James Cooper is adamant quality, consistency and pristine water are essential for both sides of his business. He and his former veterinarian wife Elise fatten cattle in rolling hill country behind Taupō and consistently produce award-winning beer.

Boutique brews such as Hillbilly Milk hazy IPA and Drought Breaker imperial stout are created on the couple’s sheep and beef farm overlooking Lake Taupō.

A decade after launching, one of their earliest brews Primate Pilsner took out the supreme honour at the 2023 New World Beer and Cider Awards. The head judge called the beer “a pitch-perfect example of a New Zealand-style pilsner.” He also called their win “a great story of Kiwi can-do attitude. Despite their remote location, rural farm setting and small team, Lakeman has gone from beginner to absolute winner.”

Find Lakeman at any most stockists, especially in the Taupō region. To taste fresh taps of Lakeman and a tantalizing burger pairing, head to Jimmy Coops Lakehouse.

Sacred Grounds Coffee

Coffee is sacred to Jenna Phillips, who learned early to appreciate the exotic bean.

Both her father and grandfather had spent most of their lives in the coffee industry, and Jenna worked in her first café at age 12. The third-generation coffee expert is only the 17th person to become an authorised instructor for the New Zealand Specialty Coffee Association. These days, she works alongside her dad, Greg, in his Taupō-based Sacred Grounds coffee business.

Greg, who learned the trade from his own father, is an award-winning roaster and former coffee machine technician. The father-daughter duo sell freshly roasted coffee beans and barista-made brews as well as specialty equipment from their boutique roastery in downtown Taupō.


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