New Pubs on the Block: The Free House, Nelson

May 5, 2009


In what is likely to be an infrequent feature, I bring you – New Pubs on the Block – reviews of new pubs just round the corner from work. However, with two new pubs in the last 12 months – lets hope the trend continues.

From the team who brought us the Nelson Beer Fetes and Marchfests comes the Free House – based on the UK concept of a pub not tied to any one brewery. A somewhat novel concept here in NZ given the propensity to be contracted to one of the big two breweries.

The pub is tucked away in the former Dutch Reform church on Collingwood St painted in attractive new colours. I’ve been into a pub in former church when in the UK which left me with a feeling that that I was displeasing God by drinking in a former house of his. The Free House is quite a different style pub though and feels a lot like relaxing in someone’s living room or a small public hall.

The interior is quite simple yet has some interesting character such as the multi-colour beer tabs and large bug sculptures that long-time Nelsonians will remember from former iconic cafe – Chez Eelco.

On tap you will find a changing selection of the best NZ craft beers from the likes of The Mussel Inn, The Twisted Hop, Emerson’s and Founder’s. Plus this is the only place in town to find genuine real ale from the likes of Townshend on hand pump. Obviously there is a price to pay for this quality but as a place to go for one or two pints – it’s ideal.

One thing that might seem odd at first is the lack of any background music leaving the focus firmly on conversation. Only problem might be the acoustics – it was packed on Friday evening and I lost my voice trying to be heard.

There is also a nice outdoor area with plenty and seating and even a covered bikestand.


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