With all the uncertainty and frustration caused by the earth shaking over the last nine months, it seems more people are drinking more alcohol to calm the nerves. A lot of the drinking venues in the central city are out of action, but the ones that are still open are very busy. Cassels and Sons has been working since June 2009 to open a brewery and bar on the site of the old tannery in Garlands Rd, Woolston.
In late 2009, Cassels produced their first brew out of a temporary building in front of the brick building they were going to renovate. During the course of a year they built up the brewing plant, streamlined their bottling and got into the brewing groove. When the first earthquake struck in September 2010, the brick building had some structural damage but the plan was to renovate it. When the February 2011 aftershock hit it was clear the structural damage was too severe.
While the dream to open a brewery and bar was still the plan for the Cassels, after February the obstacles seemed insurmountable. But the resilience of the human spirit can be seen throughout the city of Christchurch, and it didn’t take Cassels and Sons too long to decide they should get back up and get on with it. Within a week of the February event the decision was made to do up the building they were currently brewing in. With the help of local contractors and the incentive of healthy bar tabs, the shed was converted into a modern, safe brewery and bar in 3 months. They opened on June 21.
So now there is another place to visit where you can meet with friends and have a drink to soothe your spirit. Before you enter the bar, though, take a peek at the old brick building next door. Together the two buildings tell a story of what Christchurch has been through in the past nine months and how it is possible to rise up out of the chaos.
Inside, the long straight bar has 28 beer taps, of which six are hand pumps. Ten of the taps serve Cassels & Sons beer with the rest being from small craft brewers from around New Zealand. Only a couple of metres behind the bar is the wood-fired Kettle, and the mash tun and fermenters are close by.
If you are there early enough in the day you will get a good view of the brewers making the beer - they have no place to hide. The place is open from 7.30am till late with food, cofee and beer available all day.
The place has a great feel and a great selection of New Zealand craft beer on tap. There is also something magical about drinking beer while watching someone I else make it!
I called in last week for lunch and had a wood-fired pizza and a coffee. I didn’t need a beer to feel the air of optimism and relief that hung over this small step in Christchurch’s recovery.