Dunedin is full of iconic bars, but one that is about to celebrate 20 years of trading is the Inch Bar. On the 22nd of May, the bar celebrates its 20th birthday, which is set to be a big event and one to put in your calendar. The bar is planning to fill the whole week with fun activities including live music, comedy and some special events.
Trading for 20 years is a great accomplishment and to find out more about the bar, and it's success we caught up with the current owner Jonas. Originally from Sweden, he has lived in a number of places but has ended up in Dunedin and has been running the Inch Bar for the past 2 and 1/2 years. The Bar itself has been around for 20 years and in that time it has had a number of owners. It's original owner Maurice started the bar with a heavy influence from the famous Barcelona Architect Gaudi. The Architects style is evident in the bars aesthetic with the eclectic styling, wrought iron and stone work. It is something that gives the bar its unique atmosphere, which is ideally suited for the market and service it provides. More importantly, it is an aesthetic and culture that has been kept and fostered from the beginning. Jonas strongly believing that it is important to celebrate the bars history because so many of the regulars that still visit today have been supporting the bar since its inception.
The Inch Bar has had some misconceptions around its name in the past. Some have thought it to be a 'gay' bar but in reality the name refers to its size. When originally opened it was by far the smallest bar in Dunedin. Hence the name 'Inch Bar' is actually quite fitting.
Jonas himself first visited the bar in 1999. Surrounded by great friends and bar regulars he mentioned that it was kicking off, and it sounds like it has been since. Not a lot has been changed to the bar since opening except a few small tweaks here and there. Although, the one big change that has been made is the addition of a proper stage and PA system to better cater for live music. Inch Bar has always celebrated good live music, but with the addition of the stage the bar has been hosting 2 to 3 live music and entertainment nights a week. If you enjoy a good beer listening to some very talented artists they usually have someone play on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The bar even hosts a live comedy night once a month that has become very popular.
Although I have talked a lot about the bars great atmosphere and entertainment, it is no question that it is the bars craft beer culture that has set this bar apart from the rest. Back in the early days when Inch Bar first opened they were the first bar to embrace and celebrate craft beer. In particular, forming a strong relationship with the now very popular craft beer Emersons. Jonas even mentioned that the success of the craft beer has been aligned with the bars success.
Inch Bar stocks a large number of craft and international beers sourced by Jonas. First and foremost they stock the Emersons range. But they also stock other notable craft names like Tuatara, Pan Head, Invercargill Brewery, Herne Brewery, Garage Project and many others that make up a big list of around 60 - 65 craft and international brews. The bar being what's called a 'Free House' which means that it is not attached to a brewery. This allows the bar to keep their offerings fresh, and the bar is not restricted to only supplying a limited range. Inch Bar also has Cider on tap alongside what Jonas describes as a bit of a Gin Palace. It is not unusual to find around a dozen different Gins available, as well as other excellent Whiskeys and unique international drinks.
To complement the bars incredible range of drinks, is a limited Tapas menu. Although small, the bars focus is not on the food it provides. The Inch Bar wants to maintain its reputation for providing quality craft and International beers, as well as hosting excellent live entertainment. To be know and hold a reputation with those that enjoy and appreciate a quality drink and culture. Jonas describes majority of his patrons as a niche market of highly intellectual and accomplished people. The bar although in the vicinity does not cater to the student market. Instead, you will find lectures and university professionals, business owners, musicians, passionate beer enthusiasts, and an increasing number of international tourists.
If you are looking for a laid back place to get a true craft beer experience or you appreciate and have a passion for a quality drink, then the Inch Bar is a must visit. Open 7 days a week from 3:00pm till at least 11:30pm with live music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday it is definitely worth a visit. Be sure to drop in for what will no doubt be a great night.
You can find the Inch Bar at 8 Bank Street on the corner of Bank Street and North Road near the Botanical Gardens.
Also, follow the Inch Bar on Facebook to hear the latest news and updates. In particular their upcoming live music events - HERE
P.S. you can't go wrong with a cold Emerson Pilsner from the tap!