Behind Bars – Diving with Vultures

By BeertownNZ Thu, 10 Nov 2016 Auckland

“I wanted a filthy downtown boozer”

Jared Hayns is Vultures’ Lane’s general manager “and chief-of-everything”. He discovered cask ales in London ten years ago, and now rules the roost at Auckland’s busiest little craft beer bar.

Vultures’ is a poky little joint that enjoys Vulcan Lane’s history: “In the 1920’s Vulcan Lane was given the name Vultures as it was home to some of the most unsavoury characters in the city,” its website boasts. But today the Lane has upmarket retailers and bars, and Vulture’s wasn’t even there in the 1920s.

“The building we’re sitting in has only been a pub since 2001,” says Jared. “The two buildings either side are two of the oldest buildings in Auckland, but this was all demoed and built up again. It was an Irish pub and the stonework was all flown in from Ireland and the fireplace is totally fake and Styrofoam.”

And that’s all part of Vultures’ easy-going vibe. “I wanted to keep it as a filthy downtown boozer, regardless of what we’re selling. You can have a bit of fun in here, you can spill a pint and none one’s going to tell you off.”

Jared’s beer career started in the UK, in 2006. He got the OE pub gig and ended up running the handpull and cask department at The Bedford. “It’s huge, we could have 1000 people a night in there. It’s a bit of change coming back here and running a venue where its wall-to-wall when there’s 100 people.”

Returning to New Zealand in 2012, he worked at the Queens Ferry next door and took over Vultures' when it reopened as a craft bar in 2013.

As a free house with 20 taps, Vultures' has the best craft range in Auckland CBD. The taps include a handpull and two nitro taps.

“The best thing about having 20 taps is that I can throw four or five things on there that I’m interested in. I usually have a couple of sours on tap and a couple of stouts. We don’t have to have the same eight or nine pale ales that everybody else has on.

“We still run Guinness. Being a former Irish bar we go through enough Guinness to justify keeping it. We’ve got a (free) nitro tap as well and that rotates. We’ve tried a few pale ales on the nitro. It’s the same with the handpull – we’ve had everything on there from (Hallertau/Liberty) Haterade (Sourish Double IPA), Moa Five Hop, we did a scrumpy which went down a treat.

“We sell a lot of pale ales. Sours have come up and we can run through a couple of kegs a week. We would usually run two sours, a pilsner or lager, three stouts, saisons or wheat beers depending on the time of year, and all the rest is pale ales or IPAs. And we’ve got 75 bottles in the fridge – that’s where I lean towards sours or barrel-aged, stuff that can sit there, because people come here to drinks pints off the taps.”

Takeaways are available, as bottles or riggers filled off the tap. “We’re not looking to be a liquor store but we do probably have stuff you can’t get anywhere else in Auckland.”

Jared says craft beer is growing in popularity and availability in Auckland. Just as Vultures’ décor is unpretentious, so are the craft beer fans.

“I was nineteen when I left New Zealand and I came back five years ago. Now I find there’s not a lot of wankiness about beer in Auckland, especially in here. People just want to drink something they like the taste of. They do like to be informed – they like to know what goes into the beer and who makes it. But it’s definitely not a status symbol to be drinking this beer from this brewery, they drink it cos it’s a good beer. Auckland does get a rep for yuppiness but that’s not what we do in here.

“It’s slowly building more and more with new free bars popping up every few months, especially out in the suburbs. Auckland seems a lot more relaxed about craft beer. No one seems to strive to say, ‘We know more about beer than you do’, it’s just, ‘We’ve got good beer, come and enjoy it’.”

Vultures' Lane, Vulcan Lane, Auckland. Photo - Vultures' Lane's opening night in 2013. Some of those punters might never have left.

By BeertownNZ Thu, 10 Nov 2016 Auckland