It’s new! Dunedin’s newest brewery New New New is opening in an old, old, old building on Crawford St.
Founder Ian McKinlay is in the stables and champing at the bit. He’s been working on his new brewery project for two years, and was hoping to be open one year ago.
New New New is in a beautiful old building, and that’s caused a lot of the delays. The building is the original stables for Dunedin’s horse-drawn trams, built at the peak of the gold boom.
“It keeps getting older. There’s no record of it being built and every now and then the Hocken Library pulls out another photo, The oldest we have now is in the late 1860s. When we put in the wet floor we found all these bluestone cobblestones, perfectly rounded under horses’ hooves.
“When my dad bought the land it came with a demolition consent and that was definitely a cheaper option. It’s cost more and taken a lot longer than I planned. Dealing with the plant is easy – it’s a fixed cost. Dealing with a heritage building – that’s something else entirely.”
A new taproom has been added to the building – it will be open for business this summer. New New New has already produced about ten commercial batches, and many more trial batches on it’s 50L test kit.
And they’re not mucking around here. Head brewer Brendan Bransgrove has a great CV, with National Homebrewing Champ 2013 and experience at Emerson’s. The brew house produces 2000L batches, and the set up includes top-notch equipment, with a bottling line from Italy and a canning line from the USA.
It also has a mash filter – a first for a New Zealand craft brewery. A mash filter compresses the mash and squeezes out the wort. This has time and efficiency benefits for brewing conventional beers, but also allows New New New to brew with unusual mashes and make unique products.
“We can brew with all-rye, we can brew with brown rice. It lets us do things other brewers can’t do. I always wanted to make sake and makgeolli, which is a Korean rice beer – it’s a sour, yoghurty sort of drink, really lactobacillus heavy, and I’m in love with it. Until maybe five years ago it was a drink for the elderly but now it’s been rediscovered and Korean craft brewers are redefining it.”
With or without the mash filter, New New New is producing beers emphasising unusual ingredients. Chilli pilsner and coffee pale ale – sure, they’ve been done by others, but you can’t say that about Fear Not smoked eel stout. It has distinct smoked eel aroma and flavour, but after the initial surprise it reveals itself as a solid foreign extra stout. With eel notes.
“I flatted with the Garage Project guys. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat inspired by Garage Project but I think with Garage you are really part of their experiment. That’s great and Pete [Gillespie]’s a legendary brewer, but we want to trial everything and take a much more scientific approach.
“I don’t think we’ll ever be as bold as Garage Project. We want to be a lot more approachable to the non-craft beer public. We want people to pick up any one of our beers for the first time and say, ‘Hey, I could have another one of those’. Maybe that’s not as exciting for a lot of hardcore craft beer drinkers, and that’s fine.”
Ian developed his interest in brewing while living in Hong Kong. Plan A was to open a craft brewery there, but it turned out to be expensive and complicated (Plan B has too!). The Hong Kong link remains – that bottling line is set up for the 888mL Provider bottle designed for the Chinese market, the brewery is full of waving cats, and it even inspired the brewery name.
“I’d been thinking about a name for this for a very long time. We want something really different, something that doesn’t sound like any other brewery. I don’t care if some people says it’s a dumb name – it’s going to stick in your head and it sounds good in Cantonese too. The Chinese characters look great – we’ll have them in neon signs on our gable.”