Reflections on beer from an advocate, retailer, brewer and drinker.
I am the Beer Specialist for Regional Wines and Spirits one of the most comprehensive and unique liquor retailers in New Zealand. My background is as a cheese monger and I have an all round passion for fermented foods. I have a particular passion for English beer styles and I run a 60 litre real ale home brewery.
8/02/2012 10:57:00 a.m.
WELLINGTON is very quickly going from a city of craft beer drinkers and purveyors to a city of craft beer brewers. When Lion decided to move production of the Macs beers from the Shed 22 brewery and call time on brewing it seemed like the end of an era for the Wellington beer community. While the capital had a growing market for craft beer it also had steep rents and a paucity of suitable sites for brewing in the central city. That was 2010 and it seemed that with the exception of contract brewers like the Yeastie Boys the Capital was destined to play the role of drinker rather than brewer.
Things have changed rapidly. Wellington is now on the cusp of having a brewpub and two decent sized production breweries opening within the central city limits.
Over the past six months a very idiosyncratic contract brewing company has been trading its wares around town. Parrotdog Brewing Co was formed when Matt Warner and Matt Kristovski began home brewing while studying at Victoria University. They found success with their hobby and decided to take the plunge and enter the world of contract brewing. They were joined by, you guessed it, Matt Stevens and began brewing an IPA under the edgy moniker Bitterbitch at Taranaki’s White Cliff Brewery.
The three Matts have been encouraged by the Capital’s response to their beers, so much so that they have taken a huge leap. Parrotdog have secured premises in Vivian St, and have ordered a 2500 litre brew plant from China. The boys decided they would only be young once and if they were going to do it now was the time. All things going to plan they should be brewing in the Vivian St premise by April.
However things in the world of brewing don’t always go to plan, if they did Wellington’s new brewpub Fork and Brewer would have been brewing for over a month by now. The project was first faced with a major setback when new Christchurch influenced earthquake provisions meant they had to rearrange the brewing vessels along a steel girder and reinforce the floor. Then came the bombshell that their Chinese made boiler wouldn’t be certified for use in New Zealand. Last reports were that a second-hand boiler had been sourced and hopefully brewing will commence soon.
In Aro Valley some very exciting things have been going on behind the roller door of the old Aro St petrol station. Back in June I reported on The Garage Project, a venture devised by brewer Pete Gillespie, his brother Ian Gillespie and video game designer Joss Ruffell. Through the end of last year The Garage Project brewed 24 beers in 24 weeks on a tiny 50L brew plant and released them at Hashigo Zake. This was in some regards a market R and D exercise as well as a reaction to council limitations placed upon them as the building they were in was in the process of being rezoned. With rezoning sorted the brewery has been able to move forward and an American made plant is built and waiting to be dispatched once the floors and drains have been prepared. In the meantime The Garage Project is doing contract brews in Christchurch at the Three Boy’s brewery.
The next few months are going to offer plenty of new beers from our new breweries, a very exciting prospect for the Capital’s craft beer drinkers, and obviously for me!