Column: Each year the NZ Brewers Guild organizes the New Zealand Beer Awards and Nelson’s breweries generally do very well, especially considering the size of the brewing industry in the region.
It is the consistency of every brewing operation in the region that sets the standards.
This year, around 33 medals have been awarded to Nelson’s breweries, including Hop Federation, Sprig & Fern, the small boutique brewer Brood Fermentation which won a trophy for an experimental Feijoa and Rye beer, and Eddyline Brewery.
Eddyline won one of two gold medals awarded to Nelson’s breweries, and to top it off they also won the Golden Gumboots at the West Coast IPA Challenge held at the Malthouse Craft Beer Bar in Wellington there. at two weeks.
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This competition was created by The Malthouse and The Fork and Brewer 15 years ago, the first time the Golden Gumboots were won by a Nelson brewery.
All of this drives me to head over to Eddyline to meet the owners to learn more about them and what makes their beers so good.
Mic and Molley Heynekamp emigrated from the United States in 2014 after beginning their brewing career in 1999 in the small town of Socorro, New Mexico, where they attended college and began brewing. beer at home several years before they could create their own operation. .
Mic is a geologist by training and Molley has a degree in accounting and business management.
“I met Molley in college, she told me her dream was to open a restaurant one day. I was supposed to go work for Exxon who funded my master’s degree, but I couldn’t stand living in Houston,” Mic said.
“On a rock climbing trip to Colorado in 1994, I ate at a little brewery and bakery in a place called Durango. I realized this was Molley’s dream restaurant that would eventually allow us to live in Colorado brewing beer!
Upon returning home, Mic told Molley of his experiences and ideas for a brewery; she wrote a business plan “and when we had the business plan, we realized the real potential of creating an amazing future for ourselves by doing something we love rather than sitting in a cubicle . We decided to pursue our dream”.
As a 24-year-old couple, they couldn’t open in Colorado, but in Socorro they had the opportunity to renovate an old vacant building and open the Socorro Springs Brewing Company – a brewery with an oven wood-fired pizza and brewing on site. .
“The owner took a bet on us, we worked hard to build just about everything ourselves using repurposed stainless steel tubs from the dairy industry.”
Molley says, “We opened in 1999 with the wood-fired pizza oven and built a loyal following based on good value and a great environment, we knew in order to be successful and make great beer, everything had to be perfect, especially the quality and cleanliness.
“But for people to want to visit us, the atmosphere also had to be good. We focused on great music, beautiful, appealing smells and made sure our customers were treated like guests, every interaction with the customer should be positive.
“Of course the food should be priced right, be good value, the beers should be delicious and memorable.”
The couple expanded their business to Socorro in 2005 before pursuing their dream of opening Eddyline Brewery and Restaurant in Colorado.
Why open a brewery in New Zealand and why Nelson?
“We fulfilled our dream of opening in Colorado on the banks of the Arkansas River where I used to whitewater kayaking, things were going great,” Mic said. “We worked nonstop and raised our children while growing the businesses, but we realized we were working more and living less, so we started thinking about a change.”
“My parents are Dutch and my aunt emigrated to New Zealand in the late 1950s and I also had three New Zealand geology teachers.
“Growing up with slides of New Zealand and then seeing incredible geological images always meant that New Zealand was on my mind,” he said.
Craft beer admirers turned out in their thousands in 2019 for the two-day Beervana Festival. This year’s edition will take place on August 19 and 20.
“As we saw how the United States was going with the relentless pursuit of more and more bureaucracy, we were becoming less and less satisfied with what the United States had to offer our children for the future.”
Arriving with their three children in 2010 for an exploratory vacation, “the kids ran and played and were greeted by super friendly Kiwi kids everywhere we went,” Molley said.
“It was right here so we came back in 2011 and drove around both islands. Every time we passed through Nelson it felt like this was where we needed to be, it was right.”
Eddyline Nelson started in 2016 using her years of experience to go back to her roots and recreate the original brasserie and pizzeria concept.
Mic told me that they knew the brewpub-pizzeria scenario would work in a small community like Nelson, “customers can see the brewery on-site, and more importantly, we could get direct feedback from them so we can make our beers better and more appealing.”
“What has helped us succeed in the United States is seeing the reaction of customers, seeing what they like and what they don’t like, the brewery scenario is perfect for that engagement. customer.”
The couple ran the two breweries for four years until they fully established Nelson Beer Bar before selling the US business to staff so they could focus on the business in their new chosen home of Nelson.
They have also seen people’s beer preferences change over the years.
“Beer artisans are looking for really interesting and complex beers, so that’s our main focus. Kaiteri Gold Lager is our biggest seller at the pizzeria in Champion Rd, but retail is a very different market, we can’t compete with the mass produced lagers in supermarkets where some people buy a 12 pack for $30 or less.
“Luckily for the craft beer industry, many people prefer to buy a handful of craft beers rather than 12 or 24 green bottled beers, so our sales in supermarkets and other retail outlets are growing quite well. .”
The West Coast IPA Challenge is based on an American-style IPA and each brewery’s beer must be new, brewed for the very first time, creating a new IPA, “they give you a theme a few weeks before the competition to encourage creativity in everything from the label on the can, the name and the beer.This year’s theme was classic rock album covers.
Their brewer, Allan Wood, chose a Fat Freddy’s Drop album as the inspiration for their winning beer. “We used seven different hops from Yakima, Washington to reflect the seven band members in Fat Feddy’s Drop. It was a ridiculous amount of hops, but that’s what it takes!
In 2019, Mic and Molley moved the brewing to a new site at 15 Elms St in the Wakatu Estate and are currently setting up a tap room where you can have a beer in the brewery with great food, “again, going back to our roots and serving neo-Mexican style food, including tacos in the tap room which will offer tastings as well as the opportunity to sit down and have a beer”.
“People love to go out and visit a brewery and then taste the product, so we will also have brewery tours. We really want the new brewery to become a tourist destination”.
They are almost ready to open when more employees are available.
If you want award-winning beer, pick up an Eddyline beer from the retail aisle, or better yet, visit them at their pizzeria on Champion Rd, just off Raeward Fresh.