The Sprig and Fern, Milton Street, Nelson, is certainly a pub with a difference. In fact, it doesn’t look like a pub at all – the business is run from a converted villa amongst others of the same vintage in an older part of Nelson. Small groups were chatting over a beer or two on the front verandah – it all looked very friendly.
Sprig and Fern Tavern
There are now six independently owned Sprig and Fern Taverns in the Nelson region, and another two in Wellington, so they must be on to a winning formula, selling their own craft beers and ciders. None of the taverns have TV, pokie machines or pool tables. Their aim is to offer a welcoming atmosphere, with plenty of areas to relax and unwind.
Owner Tracy Banner spent twelve years as head brewer at McCashin’s Brewery in Nelson, then two years as brewery manager at Speight’s Brewery, Dunedin. Next, as head brewer of Sprig and Fern Brewery in Nelson, and Tracy and her husband became publicans at this lovely little pub in Milton Street.
One thing which makes this pub a little different is the “Shout Board” where customers can pay for a beer for a mate to collect later at their leisure.
Shout Board – buy your mate a beer
We were there in mid afternoon – just in time for a coffee for me. Robin tried an East Coast IPA craft beer, and was rather pleased with his choice. We sat outside on the deck, watching the world go by.
Out on the deck
Milton Street - the view from the deck
I’m sure the neighbours don’t really mind this little pub in their midst. There was no noisy boozy talking amongst the groups of men, all the customers were chatting quietly amongst themselves. People were coming and going, drinking beer, and eating snacks, and it was all very civilized indeed. It was rather like sitting on your own deck at home with friends, I thought.