Contract brewing is an interesting phenomenon. In New Zealand contract brewing, where brewers use other peoples breweries to produce their beers, has become an important part of the craft beer section of the market. From an industry point of view it allows a wider, more interesting range of beers to be brewed than would be the case if only brewery owners brewed beers. For North End it has allowed us to start building a business before we have jumped in the deep end and invested in a brewery. However from the brewer’s point of view it certainly presents some challenges. Firstly brewers tend to be control freaks. Brewing is all about taking a process and controlling every aspect as much as possible. When you contract brew no matter how forcefully you assert your will on the brewing process you are still brewing in someone else’s brewery and are reliant on them to one degree or another. In essence brewers like to make their own mistakes.
I am very lucky as we now use two brewers to contract brew our beers, Martin Townshend and Mike Neilson. Both are brewers I have a great relationship with and who I trust to achieve the outcomes I want. Credit also has to go to Lester Dunn who brewed our award winning ESB with me at the Fork and Brewerbut whom we no longer brew with because the Fork and Brewer are so busy brewing their own beers .
The second complication is fitting in brews. When you are brewing at other peoples breweries you are reliant on them for brew dates. Naturally they prioritise brewing their own beers so sometimes our beers are brewed later than we would like making for periods where our beers are out of stock.
Life as a contract brewer has been great but 2014 will see the opening of our brewery and I cant wait for that. Cheers