It was the pleasant smell of woodsmoke that hit me first. Then the steady hubbub of contented conversation. Dishes and silverware clanking, clinking. And The Brewery‘s co-owner Zak, welcoming guests with a friendly, ‘G’day.’
The Brewery is now a destination in an otherwise industrial part of Christchurch. I visited co-owner Zak Cassles there on a Thursday afternoon in late July. The building that now houses the modern, open plan brewery, bar, cafe, restaurant and gig venue was set to be demolished pre-February quake. But of all the old Woolston Tannery buildings in the Garlands Road complex, this one withstood the summertime shake-up the best. Work soon began to convert the two-and-a-half-year-old small-scale woodfire brewery into a brew pub.
That brew pub was dubbed, simply, The Brewery and doors opened to the public on 21 June 2011.
When I visited that July afternoon, a lager was brewing in the 600 litre bricks kettle with a copper dome, clearly visible behind the counter. Before the earthquake, the company’s focus was on brewing and selling their craft beer in bottles. They sold at markets and to local shops. When the brew pub opened in Woolston, demand skyrocketed. They’re selling so much over the bar, that it’s hard to keep up with demand. Post-February, brewing happens every day.
‘We won’t stop growing now,’ Zak told me. ‘It’s nice to be a positive story.’
And it’s nice to see them as part of Christchurch rebuilding.
Alongside craft beer on tap, woodfire pizza and hand-sliced fries and other treats, The Brewery has become a new venue for musicians. Harley, Zak’s brother-in-law, used to organise the Harbour sessions at Wunderbar. He now books musicians for The Brewery. Anika Moa. The Eastern. Nudge have all performed there.
There are only a handful of woodfire breweries in the world, ‘probably none in the southern hemisphere,’ Zak told me. Making a woodfire brew a traditional pastime, making beer as it was made 200 years ago. ‘It’s a different way of doing the same thing. Plus, it’s cool,’ Zak said. ’It’s beautiful.’ And Zak’s favourite brew? Medicinal. Made with elderberries.
Source: Get Local (getlocal.co.nz) Sept, 5th 2011