Craft beer industry growth fuelling demand for skilled brewers

29 February 2016

Craft beer industry growth fuelling demand for skilled brewers

Kelly and Luke in BreweryAttracting and retaining highly-skilled brewers is the vital next step in continuing the growth trajectory of New Zealand’s brewing industry, says the Brewers Guild of New Zealand.

Already a $2.2 billion industry in this country, growth in the number of professional brewing operations has continued in response increasing thirst for Kiwi beer overseas.

That growth has put the heat on breweries to recruit and retain skilled personnel, said Brewers Guild president Emma McCashin.

“The number of professional brewing operations in New Zealand has almost trebled in the past five years, and beer exports have almost doubled.

“As the industry’s growth continues to trend upward, there’s definitely a pressing need and demand for more highly-skilled people throughout the value chain, starting with more professional brewers.

“There isn’t necessarily a skills shortage currently but there’s increasing pressure on breweries to recruit the people they need to grow their operations and meet demand for consistently excellent beer, as well as continuing to innovate and experiment.”

ANZ’s 2015 industry insight report showed the craft beer business had grown 40 per cent from 2014. Of New Zealand’s more than 100 craft breweries, a third were either readying for or already pursuing offshore market opportunities. The thirst for Kiwi craft beer continues to boom in the United States, while demand in Asian markets is tipped to grow 300% in the next decade.

Those New Zealand breweries with export aspirations would need to expand production to take advantage of the opportunities, said Mrs McCashin. The Brewers Guild was currently investigating a number of initiatives aimed at attracting more people to the industry.

“Craft brewing in New Zealand may have started out as a cottage industry but, in the past couple of decades, it’s grown into a highly sophisticated and valuable sector.

“To continue that trend and achieve the scale required by the industry, we need to get more highly-skilled people involved. We’ve already got some of the best brewers in the world making beer here and overseas, but we need even more of them to keep pace with growth.

“That involves finding ways to attract more people from food science, chemistry, microbiology and even engineering backgrounds.”

Given the global interest in beer and brewing, the professional opportunities were impressive, she said.

“Beer is by far the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage in the world and consumer demand for premium beers in particular is growing at a phenomenal rate. With that comes strong demand for skilled New Zealand brewers from breweries all around the world.”


About the Brewers Guild of New Zealand

The Brewers Guild is a membership-based organisation established to grow the value and quality of New Zealand’s $2.2 billion beer sector.

The Guild’s mission is to grow the value and quality of the New Zealand beer sector and to act with vision for the future of the New Zealand brewing industry through education, training and communication.

The Guild organises New Zealand’s most prestigious annual beer awards, the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards.

For more information visit

VIDEO – Brew Day – House of Nicholas – Sarah IPA – #FreshHopNZ15

Video from the Brew Day at Hop Federation, with Simon Nicholas & Luke Nicholas. – HOUSE OF NICHOLAS #FreshHopNZ15

How Many Breweries in Auckland?

Beer Fountain - Hallertau LibertyThe Brewers Guild of New Zealand have announced (see below) that they had received 670 beers entries from 82 breweries for the 2014 NZ Beer Awards. This is pretty exciting news as it is a record number of entries for the competition.

The piece of information that surprised me in the press release was that there are 18 breweries in Auckland that have entered. I guess it has been awhile since anyone has actually counted / listed the breweries (beer brands) in Auckland. I hadn’t given it much thought, hence the surprise.

Below is a list of breweries (bold) and beer brands (contract brewed). My count here is 29? breweries/brands. If you can think of any others let me know and I’ll update this list.


Lion Breweries
– Macs
– Crafty Beggars

DB Breweries
– Monteith’s

Independent Liquor
– Boundary Road Brewery
– Founders

Steam Brewing Company
– Epic Brewing Company
– Bach Brewing Company
– 8 Wired Brewing
– Croucher Brewing
– Galbraith’s Brewing Company

The Beer Fountain
– Hallertau Brewpub
– Liberty Brewing Company
Behemoth Brewing Company

Shakespeare Brewery – brewpub

Brothers Beer – brewpub
Laughing Bones Brewing

Deep Creek Brewery – brewpub

Galbraith’s Brewing Company – brewpub

Waiheke Island Brewery – brewpub (Wild on Waiheke)

Leigh Sawmill Brewery – brewpub?

Hancocks – brewed at McCashins

Black Sands Brewery

  • Ben Middlemiss Brewing Company
    – Schippers Beer

Zeppelin BrewingGovernors Lager
Weezeldog Brewing – Brewed at Zeppelin Brewing

Dedwood Brewing Co. – not sure if this is still going. I think it was a Williams Warn system set up by Luke Dellow in his bar Tin Soldier. Guess this gets the title for smallest commercial brewery in New Zealand at 20 litres? Could this be called a brewpub?

1010 Brewing – Sales St, is this still open? Are they still brewing? Brewpub

Little Empire Brewing – The Crown (previously The Brewery Britomart) now used as a small test/trial brewery for Lion brewers. Not even sure the official name for the brewery, or how often they brew. Guess it is time for a quick visit. Brewpub

Ale Chaps Brewing – Waiheke ( Amelia Beerhart )

How many breweries in Auckland?

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Beer judges fizzing to find New Zealand’s champion brewery

A record number of New Zealand breweries are vying to be crowned beer champion at New Zealand’s prestigious beer awards, the 2014 Brewers’ Guild of New Zealand Awards.

Now in its eight year, entries for the beer awards officially closed last week with more than 670 beers from 82 breweries being nominated across seventeen beer categories.  A total of 72 breweries were nominated from New Zealand.

Brewers Guild Chairman, Craig Bowen, said New Zealand breweries had been performing well in international competitions.  He was looking forward to seeing this level of quality and success translated to the New Zealand stage.

“Beer brewing has exploded in recent times – amongst hobbyists and professional brewers alike.   In the last two years, the number of professional brewing operations in New Zealand has increased by more than a third.

“That confirms that New Zealand is enjoying a golden period for brewing in terms of the variety and quality of beers produced.  These Awards are the epitome of the $2.2 billion beer industry, and reward those who are especially talented at brewing quality beer,” he said.

The Brewers’ Guild of New Zealand Awards is an international competition, with entries from throughout New Zealand and the world.  Judging will take place over three days from 8 August with the judging panel comprising 25 national and internationally qualified judges.

All beer entries will be rated against a style guide for each category for its aroma, colour, bitterness, flavour and presentation.  A beer’s overall balance of characteristics, with all those factors taken into account, is then rated and judges decide whether it’s worthy of a gold, silver or bronze medal.

Winners of the 2014 Brewers Guild Awards of New Zealand will be announced at a gala dinner on 21 August at Shed 6, Wellington.

This year, Auckland has the most number of breweries vying for awards, with 18 breweries entered.  Last year, Marlborough-based Renaissance Brewing was crowned 2013 New Zealand Champion.

For more information including a list of all categories and beers nominated for the Awards, visit

2014 Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards – nominations by region:

Northland – 1Bay of Plenty -5Wellington – 12Taranaki – 1Otago – 2
Auckland – 18Hawkes Bay  – 5Nelson/Tasman -7Canterbury – 12Southland – 1
Waikato – 2Poverty Bay – 2Marlborough – 3West Coast – 1International – 10



Kathy Ireland HomebrewIt is easy to just cut and paste and link back to another piece Jason has written on Brew Hui. You should follow his posts because they are well written and thoughtful and he makes an effort to talk to the brewers out there making it happen, oh and Jono 😉

Below is just the piece which is relevant to this blog, but make sure you click-through to the whole article. Teaser: Kathy Ireland.




Luke Nicholas (Epic)

Of all my marooned guests, Luke pondered his answers the most carefully. His SMaSH beer ingredients arrived eventually, and weren’t entirely surprising given his One Trick Pony reputation: Golden Promise (a pale ale malt) as the base, hopped with Centennial(a variety from the West Coast of the USA) and fermented with an American ale yeast (Wyeast 1272 American Ale 2). The ingredients scream American Pale Ale – but Luke insisted that he would brew an Imperial IPA, a decision no-doubt swayed by the delicious Hop Zombie we were sipping at the time.

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Luke found it difficult to narrow-down the consumable beer that he’d hope would be in the container – but he did offer a top three; and given the fact that I was swigging freeHop Zombie, I was obliged to bend the rules ever-so-slightly. Top of the list was Hopsickle, an Imperial IPA from Moylan’s in the US; closely followed by Emerson’s Porter (on the hand-pull, he was quick to add) and Kauri Falls Pale Ale from Hot Water Brewing.

There was no pondering when it came to the beer that he hoped wasn’t in the container: namely, anything gluten-free. As a judge at this year’s Australian International Beer Awards, he spent the majority of the week trying to swap his place at the gluten-free judging table with someone from the barleywine section. Strangely, no-one took him up on his offer.

As far as companionship is concerned, Luke settled on a three-headed monster: namely,Dave Kurth (from the aforementioned Hot Water Brewing), Martin Townshend (from the eponymous Townshend’s) and Kelly Ryan (now brewing at the Fork and Brewer in Wellington). Luke said that these three brewers continually challenge him to be better,and that between them they represent the most potential in New Zealand brewing. He did add one small caveat: due to similar personally types, it’s likely that Luke, Dave and Martin would all kill each other within 30 seconds of being marooned – leaving Kelly in solitude with all that Hopsickle.



Don’t Define Craft Beer – Define Industrial Beer

Sierra Nevada Pilot BreweryIt seems as though the “craft brewing” industry has wasted many hours/days/weeks debating over exactly what craft beer is.

Is it the number of litres produced? Who owns the brewery, the shareholders? The philosophies behind their brewing?

We should really be trying to define what the liquid is and the types of breweries the big multinationals are.

If you historically look at beer and breweries – you would have had brewpubs, small breweries providing the local area and some surrounding towns, and regional breweries and national breweries.

“Craft Beer” – the world normalizing after the takeovers, closures of the 20th century which rid the world of so many breweries in the name of market share for a handful on mega breweries. “Craft Beer” is beer, it is just the natural state of things.

Industrialisation has brought about positives and negatives for brewing and beer. Yes there have been some great technological advancements to make beer better, which today even benefits the smallest brewer. On the negative side though the “near beer” wort streams these industrial mega factories produce are a disgrace to the history of all brewers.

The decisions about the beer being brewed are made around how to making it cheaper, have less taste so it is the least offensive to the greatest number of people. The sad thing is it is what most people drink. It’s just “beer”, and as long as its cold they are happy(?). Much the same as – as long as the fries they get with the burger are hot at the drive through, they are happy(?).

These big mega breweries have become the same as battery farms, or cattle feedlots. Increasing yield and increasing profit does what for the consumer? It makes the beer tasteless and cheap. You get what you pay for. The only way so called premium beer is premium is the premium price people pay for it. Actually premium beer in green glass bottle is less premium because it lets the damaging light in. (Brown bottles are actually more premium than green).

All “Craft Beer” is beer.

But is “Industrial Beer” beer?

What is the definition of “industrial beer”


An article showing the term “Craft Beer” is just about to devolve into just “Beer”.  Sorry, Hipsters: These Mainstream Beers Will Soon Be ‘Craft’ Too

What is Craft Beer – Brewers Association


UPDATE: Is Sam Adams Too Big to Be Craft Beer?

Seven Reasons Most People Drink Beer

I’ve talked to a lot of people about beer over the last decade and most of these people are never going to try or drink craft beer. They are the majority. The majority must be right, right? so I thought I would reflect on the reasons why the majority drink beer.

IMG_17851. IT’S COLD – this seems to be the most popular feature of beer. The odd thing is the cold is a feature of the fridge that the beer was stored in. The majority of the beer on the planet actually has to be served cold so you can’t taste it. As it doesn’t taste very nice if it warms even a little.

2. PRICE IS RIGHT – I find it fascinating that people who chose to buy “Premium Beer” seem to always make their purchase decision based on which beer is on sale. The only premium thing about “Premium Beer” is the premium price, as it generally didn’t cost the brewer any more to make.

3. MY FRIENDS DRINK IT – another reason which has nothing to actually do with the liquid inside the bottle. Nothing like peer pressure and advertising to help you make a purchase decision for beer.

4. IT COMES IN A GLASS – convenience. for most pouring the beer from a bottle into a glass is a waste of time. The more I think about this they are right, as the beer they are generally drinking you wouldn’t want to smell the aroma, so drinking from the bottle is probably the best thing.

IMG_77945. THIRST QUENCHING – it’s as though this is the only beverage you could possibly drink when you are thirsty. Hello, water? Then again maybe they have seen this article  A pint of beer is better for you after a workout than water, say scientists

6. IT MAKES ME SEXY – it is hard to understand the logic of “if I drink this beer brand I will be more attractive to the opposite sex”. So guys view beer commercials with attractive women in them, with the message they will be more attractive if they drink brand X. But women who watch the same commercial won’t be thinking “oh when I see a guy drinking brand X I will now find him desirable”. Where is the logic?

7. IT’S WHAT’S IN THE FRIDGE… at work, at home, at the party. The fact that people will just drink any brand that is handy, goes to show that the flavour of beer doesn’t matter at all, to most people. It just has to be cold and have near to no flavour and be as pale as possible (because colour is scary too when it comes to beer). They freak out when present with the flavour of an IPA.

It seems that the way most people purchase, drink and treat beer is a metaphor for their lives, and on a greater scale, the planet. They don’t care, they don’t want to think, or experience their senses or understand that things can be different, be better. They don’t want to be challenged by the new and different.

As a brewer, it is sad and frustrating that so many out there don’t take the time to look at the colour of their beer, smell the aromas of their beer (in a glass), taste the beer they are drinking (which isn’t overly cold) and thinking about the flavours they are tasting.

Here are some quick numbers of beer drinkers in New Zealand that don’t care about beer, unless it is cold and cheap.

If there are 129,600 craft beer drinkers in New Zealand of 2,880,000 people that drink alcohol, one could assume that there are 2,750,400 that just want a cold beer that tastes like nothing. That’s a pretty big number. Wonder if there is a way to convince a few of them that beer can actually have flavour that you can taste and enjoy.

What do you think it takes to show someone that beer can be enjoyed for the flavour?

Is it time the Craft Brewers of New Zealand started “hunting as a pack”?

British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell – Thank You

British High Commissioner Homewood Brewers
Yeastie Boys, Epic and Good George

Thursday night the British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell invited the four craft brewers that had been to the UK to brew their beer for the JD Wetherspoons International Real Ale Festival. Each brewer was invited to bring the beer they brewed in the UK. The local Wellington brewing community and media were invited and every one happily tasted the beer and whisky on offer.

Stu & Sam from Yeastie Boys were there with the actual beer they had recently brewed in the UK and it was in a cask, being served via a hand pump and was tasting great.

[Yeastie Boys brewing up for UK festival] – 2014

Kelly Ryan was there (but no longer working for Good George, but now at the Fork & Brewer) along with reps from Good George and they had their new Black IPA.

[Brewer claims rare festival slot] – 2013

Luke Nicholas (me) was also at Homewood, with Epic Pale Ale.

[Epic to be brewed in England for biggest ale festival] – 2009


Jed Soane photo of British High Commissioner and Brewers
Photo Credit: Jed Soane awesome craft brewer photographer

I’d like to thank Vicki Treadell, British High Commissioner, for organising this gathering, offering her residence and providing the incredible hospitality, it was wonderful evening. She has been a real champion for craft beer, not only here in New Zealand, but where ever she travels. It is a shame her time here in New Zealand is coming to an end, and would like to wish her well on all her endeavours in the future. I hope one day to share another pint of beer with her somewhere in the world.





Who Are These People?
The local craft beer community gathering at Homewood, residence of the British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell









Unfortunately brewer Ian Ramsey, nor any Galbraith’s Alehouse beers were present.

Its been a while since I was in the UK brewing Epic Pale Ale for the JD Wetherspoons International Real Ale Festival but here are some videos of my adventure in the UK.

Pouring the first pint

Documenting the journey in the UK

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Brew Hui Meets – Luke Nicholas

I thought I would re-produce below the cool post from Jason Gurney, from an interview he did with me recently. I did post this on FB and Twitter but figured it would get a few more reads here if I published it again. If you have made it this far please click thorough now and check out the Brew Hui Blog. It is great to have a unique and passionate perspective of beer and brewing in New Zealand from someone like Jason.



Young Cock & Bull Brewer Luke NicholasIn my day-job, polarising personalities are a dime-a-dozen.

Academia seems to attract people who have a thirst for jousting with others over matters of interpretation – with little thought given to the face behind their opponent’s mask. And that’s fine, if not expected – since ability to separate the personal from theprofessional are hallmarks of any academic worth their salt. The example that proves this theory is the fact that I’m rubbish at it.

Luke Nicholas – founder of Epic Brewing Company – would be the first to cop to being a polarising personality; in fact, he was the one who brought it up.

Not long into our hui, he reeled-off some of the brewer’s names who just won’t talk to him anymore because of what he’s said about their produce. And one glance at his blog – which has taken social media by storm since starting at the beginning of the year – gives you some insight into why he might occasionally rub people up the wrong way. He’s certainly not afraid to chuck grenades; but rather than hiff-and-hide – or parry, to return to our jousting metaphor – Luke prefers to stand in No-Mans-Land and wait for return-fire.

And I’ve got a lot of time for someone with that sort of courage of their convictions.

Like many (if not most) polarising personalities, the quality of Luke’s work shines with rare incandescence. His success is not the result of magic; rather, it’s the natural product of toil, commitment and risk. Case in point: within 48 hours of returning to New Zealand after living in California for several years, he arrived on the doorstep of a newly-formed brewpub called the Cock and Bull – head brewer: one Ben Middlemiss. He offered up his services, and worked unpaid for a year before demand for Ben’s fledgling beers created an assistant brewer role. Over the course of that year he cleaned tanks, painted floors, whatever – all the while learning his trade from one of New Zealand’s greats.

Here’s a wee taste of our discussion around this topic – which begins with me trying to gleam homebrewing tips, but eventually leads to a discussion about the birth of Epic Pale Ale, the rise-and-fall of the Cock and Bull and the awesomeness of Ben Middlemiss:


[You will have to go to the original post to listen to a 5 minute audio file of the interview between myself and Jason]


First Batch LukeWe sampled some tasty treats as our hui drew on – I even took along a bottle of the inaugural Brew Hui pale ale for a taste. (Luke’s first words were “F**king awesome” – I kid you not. There may have been some additional words in the sentence, such as “for a first effort”, but I’d stopped listening by then.) I also took along a bottle of Leigh Sawmill’s The Doctor – a biscuity doppelbock that won high praise from Luke (and me too, of course – but that’s like shooting a big fish in a small barrel with a bazooka.) But the tastiest treats of all were the ones that Luke pulled from the Epic fridge – some of which only exist in said fridge, and so I had to cross my heart to not talk about them. (Wives that aren’t really listening anyway don’t count, right?)

In true Brew Hui style, the Just One Hour that I’d promised him quickly turned to Three; but he didn’t seem to mind. I even jumped in my car with some tasty parting koha – which I had gratefully accepted, as long as Luke understood that I was going to say nice things anyway. But that’s not just because my writing style only comes in positive; it’s also because – polarising personality or not – Luke is an important piece of New Zealand’s craft beer furniture.

He’s seen bubbles burst and businesses fold – but rather than hope for the demise of his competitors with blood-thirsty glee, he’d rather wave flags and warn of rocky times ahead. He thinks no-one should have to drink diacetyl, or DMS, or oxidation; and when he tastes those things in a competitor’s beer, he tells them so. That kind of frankness might occasionally ruffle feathers; but if doing so creates an expectation of excellence from brewers, retailers and everyone in-between, then Luke: ruffle-away.

I’m sure there are other sides to the They Won’t Talk To Me Anymore stories – there always are – but I can’t help but wonder how much of that is clash of personality rather than objective dissonance. Sure, he’s a relentless spade-caller; but from what I can gather, he rarely does so without backing it up with possible solutions. Perhaps such a personality is more easily camouflaged in the world of academia than it is in brewing.

Twitter: @jasegurney | Facebook:

BREWER – Dave Kurth – Hot Water Brewing

I caught up with Dave Kurth and had a chat about some “beer stuff” over lunch. It was my first opportunity to try his new range of beers he is making at Hot Water Brewing.

2014-02-25 11.44.47-1 A nice range of beers in can. One of the few craft brewers canning. The super star of the range, and one of the best beers I have had this year is the Kauri Falls Pale Ale. Could be a contender as one of those beers that captures the “New Zealand beer style” Wonderful NZ hop character, without it being too aggressive, balanced with a solid malt base.

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2014-02-25 13.13.57 The Lumsden Freehouse Nachos have gotten even better. Love the jalapeno’s.

Dave is possibly one of the most under appreciated brewers in the country. I’m expecting that this new opportunity will really see him shine. If you get a chance you should head out and see him at Hot Water Brewing, you can stay the night as they have accommodation on site.

Here is a little background about Dave from NZ Craft Beer TV

And some video

Epic results at Beer & Brewer Awards

Luke Nicholas of Epic Brewing Company has just been announced asBrewer of the Year (NZ) at the Beer & Brewer Awards 2012

His beer Armageddon IPA has also just been named as Best Beer (NZ)at the Beer & Brewer Magazine Awards in Sydney. 

The awards were held last week during the 2nd Annual Sydney Craft Beer Week. Nicholas was in attendance for the week doing a series of tastings and beer dinners. 

When asked what he thought about winning, Nicholas says “You never think about awards like this because you are just focused on brewing great beer, and people buying and enjoying the beer is satisfaction enough. This award was a surprise, but it is nice to get the recognition, for a lot of hard work.” 

Nicholas isn’t new to these types of accolades with him being the only brewer in NZ to have his beer be awarded Supreme Champion Beer of New Zealand three times -1999, 2001, 2006. The only brewer in NZ to have won multiple times. 

His reputation has also been recognised internationally by being the first New Zealand brewer to be invited and brew a batch of his Pale Ale in the UK, for the JD Wetherspoons International Real Ale Festival in 2009. Nicholas was also the first New Zealander to be invited to be a judge at the World Beer Cup in 2006, and has judged every event since. 

Asked what his winning formula is, he said “using the best ingredients I can find from around the planet, without compromising on cost & making great beer, that firstly, I want to drink”. 

This award just reinforces the quality and success that Mr Nicholas strives for in the brewery with his beers. 

With many people these days looking for a reason to try craft beer, this now gives craft beer drinkers the best reason to buy an Epic Beer! 

For full results from the Beer & Brewer Awards 2012 


Armageddon has previously won at the NZ Beer Awards: 

Champion IPA – 2011 
Champion Barrel Aged IPA – 2010 
Champion IPA – 2009