In the heart of Auckland’s craft beer mecca, Kingsland, an inconspicuous newcomer has emerged, bringing sunshine, greenery, and some seriously delicious brews to the scene. Say gidday to Saint Leonard’s, the brewery that’s transforming a once gritty panelbeaters into one of Auckland’s largest and sunniest garden bar breweries.
Located at 394 New North Road, Kingsland, they are close to the Garage Project taproom on the other side of the road and Eden Park is just around the corner, while Urbanaut and Batsmen are down the road.
I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek behind the scenes a week before their grand opening, after a friendly exchange of messages with the Saint Leonard’s crew. I met three of the four masterminds behind the operation — Ben Taylor, the hospitality guru with some of Ponsonby’s most popular bars under his belt, including Revelry and Hideaway; and Vlad Petrovic and Rory Clarke, the tech-savvy duo who traded their keyboards for brew kettles. The fourth is Steve Ryder, who co-owns Saint Leonards as well as Hideaway.
Rory and Vlad’s journey from a garage on Saint Leonard’s Road in Mount Eden to a bustling brewery and garden bar is nothing short of a hoppy tale. What started as a bit of fun, brewing up batches of beer in their garage and before they knew it, they were leveling up, brewing kegs of beer that became the go-to hydration at summer festivals for them and their crew, but the garage brewers were destined for much bigger things.
Enter Ben, the friend with a keen palate for potential. When he got a sip of their Saison, he knew this was more than just a weekend project. It was a liquid masterpiece in the making. Ben, equipped with his hospitality background, became the catalyst, nudging Rory and Vlad to move from garage brewers to the proud owners of a brewery with massive potential.
The grand opening was nothing short of a frothy celebration. With the sunniest day Auckland has seen in months, music cranking, and beers flowing, Saint Leonard’s set the stage for a memorable day and night. I couldn’t resist diving head-first into a pint of their “Nix” Hazy IPA, later indulging in the crisp goodness of their Kolsch and then their sessionable Raspberry Sour — a contender for the sour of the summer, in my humble hazzy opinion!
As I connected with fellow beer enthusiasts, the atmosphere was alive with laughter, the clinks of beer glasses and congratulations for the Saint Leonard’s team. I left the humming brewery with a promise to return all summer long to their sunny garden bar — a promise to come back and post more Instagram stories and savour the flavours crafted by Rory and Vlad, who’ve shown that escaping the corporate life can lead to a life filled with beer dreams. Here’s to Saint Leonard’s — a brewery that’s not just pouring pints but pouring sunshine into Auckland’s craft beer scene!