It seems amazing but in a month’s time we turn 2 years old. We have come a long way in those two years although not nearly as far as our initial plans suggested giving proof to the rule that starting a brewery always takes 5 times as long as you thought and costs three times as much.
2014 started with us finding a stable home for our production. After a nomadic first year that saw us produce beer at Townshend, Four Aves, Fork and Brewer, and Panhead Breweries we found a home for the year at Kereru. Chris and his team did a fantastic job through the year producing our beers and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude for all the work the Kereru team put in to helping grow the North End dream. We have one more brew booked at Kereru to get a festive brew done for Brewday. Leaving Kereru will involve mixed emotions as it almost marks our transition from contract brewer to bricks and mortar but also marks the end of a good relationship.
In Feb we attended our second Brewday Festival and the first under the North End brand. We had a ball and it was lovely to be able to watch people enjoy our beers in the Martinborough sun, and even better to wander to the amazing Microbar afterwards for some of NZ’s best tapas.
In April we added a new beer to the range in the form of Forty South, an English IPA brewed as all our beers are with NZ hops. Initially it was brewed as a harvest ale incorporating new season whole cone NZ cascade and Styrian Golding hops. We launched Forty South in Wellington and for the first time we ventured into Auckland with our new northern distributor Beertique.
May saw me travel to Christchurch to brew a collaboration with the Twisted Hop, V.T.A. was brewed for the outgoing British High Commissioner Vicki Treadell and used some interesting new generation English hops to create a true Anglo/NZ hybrid beer.
In June we released a historic Burton Ale at the S.O.B.A. Winter Ales Festival and I received a bit of media coverage as I attended the festival dressed as a brewer might have in the 1930’s.
In June we added our NZ APA Field Way to the range, packed with zesty NZ hop character but utilising our English yeast strain the beer has proved to be our fastest seller, showing that NZ’s thirst for hop forward pale ales is still going strong.
July saw us team up with the wonderful Bennett and Slater as part of Beervana’s media brew program. We produced a Smoked Pipi Brown Ale that was to subtle to impress the competition judges but certainly proved to be an enjoyable drinker.
Beervana saw us take a feature bar and wow the crowds with our White IPA Blanc de Houblon. The weather gods offered up the coldest days of the year for the festival but the masses still came and we had a ball. The beer awards saw us add 2 bronze medals to the back bar.
Around this time our orders went in for brewery plant and our canning line. Our Canadian canning line supplier filled our order perfectly to schedule . Unfortunately the same cannot be said for our Chinese brewery fabricator and this is the true cause of our delayed brewery fit out. 2 months behind schedule and we are still waiting for the plant to be ready for dispatch. We hope to see it leave China in the coming weeks.
In August we took over the lease on our site and I moved the first of our wine barrels in filling them with a Flemish Red and with our historic Burton Ale. While the beer is a long way from being ready to blend and bottle we are planning on preparing a sneak preview for the Brewday Festival in Feb.
September saw us enter a relationship with the Bluebridge Ferry and Super Alpha Golden Ale started to pour on both of their ships.
November saw another quick trip to Auckland to launch a big batch of Blanc de Houblon and our inclusion in the Craft Beer Taste Off at the Fork and Brewer.
Finally in December we made the call to install our canning line at Panhead in the New Year and to start to produce some packaged product under contract there until our brewery arrives.
All and all it’s been an exciting but incredibly challenging year. We have seen our business grow, we have produced and sold a hell of a lot more beer than we did in 2013, but we have also battled with all the challenges that any new business does. From a personal point of view the challenges of setting up a small business while holding down a day job, selling a house and keeping a family life have been incredibly hard. To all the brewers out there that manage it I take my hat off to you.
And so to 2015, the year it’s all going to come together. In February we will fire up the canning line, look out for cans coming to a store near you! , we will again pour our beer at the Brewday festival and at some point in the first half of the year we will fire up our brewery on Ngaio Rd. I’m no longer foolhardy enough to publish a projected date.
To everyone who has helped us this year, to our distributors and bars, to our families and friends , to the investors who have faith in us, to the brewers who have helped with advice or production space and most importantly to the customers who have bought our beer Happy New Year! Prost, Cheers, and Sláinte!