The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

16 TUN’s new bar manager has mandate to chat

Brandon Walker

Brandon Walker

Training as a public relations advisor is likely to come in handy for the newly appointed bar manager at craft beer pub 16 TUN.

Following high school Brandon Walker worked in a PR firm in Taupo and later studied communications at AUT in Auckland, gaining skills that are always valued in the hospitality industry. Now he is running the bar operations at the popular Auckland free house in Wynyard Quarter.

Walker is an enthusiastic fan and consumer of craft beer who brings a wide range of brewing knowledge to his new role. Much of it has been gained in Japan at Baird Beer but also at the celebrated MASU Robata Restaurant in Auckland’s Federal St Precinct. He says he really began to take craft beer seriously researching, sourcing and curating a revolving Japanese craft beer selection at MASU. This led him to a four-month stint working in Japan for Baird Beer first at the new brewery in Shuzenji and then in the Baird taprooms in Tokyo, as well as working craft beer festivals.

“In 16 TUN I have found a venue that I can employ these experiences and the knowledge I gained in a very tangible way,” Walker says. “Much like Japan, the craft beer scene here has been bubbling along and is now exploding and there is a huge market of people really excited by – and open to – craft beer’s new world of flavours, styles and beer expressions.”

Walker was born in Tauranga and grew up on Great Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf entering the PR industry before attending AUT University. It was while a student he became involved in hospitality. “I needed a job; it was summer in Devonport. I found a scenario whereby I could meet girls, sample the establishment’s fine products and get paid for it. ‘

“After a while I discovered I had a knack for bar work – I love exploring flavours and finding ways to get them to work together – and started to take it much more seriously.”

Walker says he’s very much looking forward to working at 16 TUN, a venue that is open to all possibilities of the craft or artisan movement, craft beer in particular. As bar manager at 16 TUN Walker is involved in applying the craft mentality to all aspects of the bar’s offerings.

“From the beer selection and how it is curated and balanced, through the spirit and wine lists, the way staff are educated on the product and in turn how they relate this to customers is where I’m focusing,” he says. 

“It is easy to memorise malt styles and hop strains, to rattle off the abv or the gravity a beer is at – but it is harder – and ultimately more rewarding – to engage customers and get them talking about flavours.”