Thursday, June 7, 2012

CT Column 28/03/2012 : Suburban industry

Last week I wrote about my trip to the Taranaki as a guest of mikes brewery. While I was there I managed to pop in on the Naki’s other craft brewer Liberty Brewing Co. Liberty Brewing began as a Wellington based home brew supply company owned and operated by Yeastie Boy Stu McKinlay and Revolution Brewing Co founder Brendon Mackenzie. They sold the company to New Plymouth based Joseph and Christina Wood who built it up until they were able to enter the brewing industry.

The Liberty Brewery is located in the garage of the family home in a suburban street in New Plymouth.  Joseph’s 300L brewery is shoe horned into the family garage which conveniently had a vehicle inspection pit that was converted into a drain. When we visited, Joseph was away brewing a collaboration brew at Galbraith’s Ale House in Auckland so we were shown around by Cristina ably assisted by toddlers Jackson and Poppy. This was a brewery tour that perfectly summed up the cottage industry nature of the business.

Liberty has carved out a name for itself brewing strong flavourful beers that are either sold on tap or in large 750ml bottles with zorg stoppers. While there we tasted the dazzlingly hoppy double IPA C!TRA that masterfully matches a huge hop driven aroma of citrus, and tropical fruit with a palate that offers buckets of hop flavour without much obvious bitterness.

We also tasted a trial batch of a sour red ale that is perhaps one of the most exciting Kiwi beers I have had in a long time, sour, tangy and bursting with refreshing salty passionfruit acidity. I hope Joseph finds a way to produce it commercially.

Another Liberty beer that has me excited is the wonderfully named High Carb Ale. Combining rich raisiny malt, zesty tangy hop flavours and a long rich finish, High Carb Ale is the sort of beer that makes our early plunge into wintry weather worth it.  

At 300L the Liberty brewery is only just bigger than a home brewery and has already grown since launching last year. I suspect the real challenge will be when Joseph has to make the decision to either grow and give up his day job or cap production, something that will be hard to do at a time when demand for his beers is constantly growing. I hope he find a way to grow.