Well, it has been an age since we did a blog post, but a new year is here and one of our new years resolutions is to be more proactive in the blogging area, and hopefully vlogging too!
In this blog we shall review last year, we'll try our best to keep it short but a year is a long time!
2020 actually started really well for us. The summer here in Kaikoura was busy, lots of mini golfers, escape room players and beer sales. Happy days.
Early March was Kegkoura as usual, which was a blast, all tickets sold out and it was another stunner of a day. The breweries brought the fun with their festival only beers being a huge hit. The 2% Kombuch-ale we did was particularly lovely, we really need to rebrew that one! This year we have the same line up, Concept Brewing, Derelict, Two Thumb and Wilderness. Tickets are already selling well so get in quick so you don't miss out. We have also added an extra event on the Friday night this year, Beers in the Cellar, an intimate tasting evening of some rare and unique beers alongside some yummy smoked meat platters from the awesome chef at the Old Kaikoura Winery. Only a max of 50 tickets available for this one.
BUY TICKETS HERE
Also in early March we got the awesome news that we had made it into the New World Top 30 (beer and cider awards) for the second year running, this time it was for our tropical sour called Drop, Cover, Hold. Coming on the back of a busy summer, and all the publicity we'd just had being in the Beer Jerk members box, it was the icing on the cake.
Two weeks later... Lock down.
At that time it was a great worry to us all. Being a small business owner we had no idea of what the future held. New World put their awards on hold, very little income coming in, a chiller full of beer (we were still brewing at summer rates) and no idea how the country was going to cope with this new disease. It was a trying and testing time. To be honest, if it had been at the end of winter we may not have survived...
But as it turned out lockdown was OK for us. With people being forced to shop online we had some good orders from Beer Jerk and the Beer Library which brought in some much needed income, and we started our own online shop where our Fresh hop beer proved very popular.
Eventually New World put the awards back on schedule and we managed to get that beer brewed and bottled. Our bottling machine does 4 bottles every 70 seconds so you can imagine the work doing 5,000! Other than that beer though, our brew kit had a nice 4 month rest.
The main bonus of the lockdown was the great amount of time we managed to get with our then 10 month old daughter, Hazel, time at home rather than her being stuck at work with us as usual.
Thankfully the team of 5 million did the business and life seems to have returned to some sort of normal, fingers crossed. With having all our family over in the UK we are well aware of how lucky we are to live in NZ right now.
Another bonus to being in the New World awards was that we got an interview for Seven Sharp which has been the best advertising we have ever had, people on the North Island heard about us! You can see the video here. The interest that generated for us, and the love that Kaikoura saw over the winter, meant that it was a busy time for us and even meant we could get a small break in June (We don't recommend a campervan with a 1 year old in winter!)
Things ticked along after that with school holidays and weekends being the only busy times up until summer. The summer season was a slow start, but once the weather improved after boxing day the place was crazy busy! So much so that our year on year numbers are all up despite the 2 and a bit month gap for lockdown! We have hired a full time worker, Kayla (or Kea as Hazel calls her) who has been so great getting stuck in on the bottling machine, running escape rooms and anything else we throw at her -like entertaining Hazel!
We are so thankful to everyone who comes by and either plays golf, plays the escape rooms (which have been incredibly popular this summer!) or buys beer. Kiwis really do seem to be getting out and supporting local, hopefully its a realisation that there is a tonne of amazing stuff to see and do in this country and that you don't need to clear off overseas as soon as the borders open.
We are also super thankful for the local bars, restaurants and cafes that stock our beers. Recently we installed new taps at Slam Club, Simes Kitchen and Siccaros Mexican so along with The Pier hotel and The Strawberry Tree you now have many options for getting a nice cold pint of Emporium beer in Kaikoura. For a full list of places you can enjoy our beer in town click here.
Cheers to you all, stay safe out there,
Laura, Paul and Hazel
Last night was our second annual beer launch for our community hop growers beer. We had a great turn out so the 20L keg only lasted just over an hour! We donated this beer as karma keg and managed to raise $395 to go into the fundraising pot for the new Kaikoura community swimming pool. So cheers to all who came along and bought a pint to support this good cause, and big thanks to The Strawberry Tree for hosting the event.
This years beer was a Best Bitter (which proved very popular with some of the Brits in the bar!) We had slightly more success with our community hop harvest this year, but still not quite enough to do more than a 20 litre batch! It is a good fun project though and the locals who take part each year enjoy the chance to come along and put the result of their hop growing efforts into a truly local beer.
If you live in Kaikoura and want to be part of the hop growing group next year be sure to keep an eye on Facebook around September/October when we split up our hop plant and you too can try your hand at growing hops. Successful harvest or not its a fun group of people to be a part of and we look forward to next years brew day and beer launch.
It's been a very long time since our last blog post, a lot has happened since then. Let me think back to where we left off in September...
We had just completed setting up our second escape room, The Gangster's Hideout. We are very proud of this room, it took a little longer than the brewer's laboratory to get up and running but it was well worth it as it's getting some great reviews from those who have played it. It's quite a challenge though, taking an average time of 56 minutes to complete it!
Both rooms have proved very popular and we love being able to provide an new activity for tourists and locals here in Kaikoura. It's a great option for those wet weather days or as an early evening activity-but make sure you book before you come as we need advance notice to ensure we have staff on hand to run the games. Booking is easy, just visit our website and click on the book now button on the escape room page.
A very busy summer followed which was long overdue and great to see. The mini golf course was incredibly busy, almost reaching a record of 100 people one day, and beer sales were also booming! We weren't quite prepared for it though having not experienced a full summer season since moving here in 2016, so as a result we embarrassingly ran out of beer a couple of times! This was largely due to increasing our presence in bars and cafes here in town. Huge thanks to The Strawberry Tree and The Pier Hotel for putting our beers on tap in their bars, it's great to be able to point people to places in town where they can sit and enjoy a pint of our beer alongside some great food.
We also picked up a couple of new cafes to sell our bottles, Whale Watch, Dolphin Encounter and Kaikoura Indian to name a few. So we've been giving the bottling machine a good work out this year and it doesn't look like it'll be getting a break anytime soon!
We've had a couple of new beers released too, and the return of our ever popular Red IPA, Angry Sky. Look out for some of these in bottles very soon...
We also hosted another successful Kegkoura in March this year. We were super lucky with the weather again, and everyone had a great time. Next years festival we be on 7th March so keep that date in your diary, you don't want to miss it!
Thanks heaps to Dan Kerins Photography for these awesome photos...
The most exciting news since our last blog post however is that we FINALLY have the brewery up and running! This all happened the week before Kegkoura (not great timing but we have a tendency to do these things, maybe we work better under pressure?) thanks to our friend, brewery consultant Mike Cheer. The first brew was done on the Friday and is a nice malty red ale which has since been squirreled away to age in some pinot noir barrels, we'll see it again in a year or two. Finney has done a few more brews since and each time the process is getting more and more fluid as he gets used to the 1000l kit. There is still a bit of fine tuning required before we are completely smooth sailing, so for now we will continue to brew some of our core range beers at The Twisted Hop in Christchurch. Brewer Jim does a great job down there so we're not going to be taking that away from him just yet, but its fun to be able to play around on our own brewery and hopefully bring you some exciting new beers of which first up is a saison
The Emporium opened in October 2016 and is a place for Lau & Finney to share fun stuff they like! Expect blogs about beer, mini golf & escape rooms