Eddyline is a kayaking reference. The eddy line separates the turbulent main current from the quiet sheltered eddy currents – once you cross the eddy line, you can sit in the calmer backwater while the river rushes past. It’s a metaphor.
Mic and Molley Heynekamp have built a successful craft brewery in Colorado, and now they’re expanding into New Zealand. One year ago they opened Eddyline Brewery & Pizzeria in Richmond. The airy bar has a huge pizza oven and a small but efficient brewery.
The Eddyline story started in 1999. It now brews 1.2 million L/year in Buena Vista, 200km southwest of Denver, Colorado. Mic and Molley first came to New Zealand in 2010 and saw potential to replicate the Eddyline experience here. “One of the original plans was to start small and get to know the local customers. We don’t know the kind of beers people want and we want to be able to experiment with the different hops,” Mic says.
So last year the experimentation started. Mic has a seat on the Expert Panel for Plant & Food Research’s Hop Screening Programme. “We got invited right after we opened and we get new varieties to try out and see what they do. These are very new varieties. Some are offensive and some are fantastic! It cool being a part of the processes of bringing a new hop to market.
“(Plant & Food’s) Ron Beatson and (NZ Hops’) Doug Donelan like to come in here and drink beers and that keeps the conversation going. They might bring three international brewers a week into here, and they’re looking for different beers to try out the hops and see what we’re doing.”
Eddyline’s US range is built around big, West Coast-style IPAs, and even though Nelson is Hop City NZ, it’s had to tone things down to suit local tastes.
“In the States our biggest seller is a double IPA, but here it’s our two pilsners we sell the most of. I think the Nelson region is a pretty conservative market. We’re bringing in a lot of tourists and they’re looking for those more experimental bigger beers, but the core of our business is locals so its hard meeting both ends,” Mic says.
“Nelson advertises itself as the Craft Brewing Capital but it would be more like US craft in the 1980s, and the more experimental craft beer scene hasn’t taken off here. It’s kind of a bi-polar scene here, where there’s some that are trying to push interesting and hoppy beers, and there’s the conservative old English-style beers. It’s not as innovative as in Wellington or Auckland. Our flagship Crank Yanker IPA is 7.5% in the States, but here we keep it down at 6-6.5% or it doesn’t sell.”
Mic says the cultural exchange goes two ways, and he’s also introducing US drinkers to New Zealand styles. “But it’s nearly impossible to get New Zealand hops in the States. We’ve done some one-off smaller batches by taking a 20kg box over in our suitcase, but for bigger volumes its slim pickings.”
Mic and Molley are in the process of applying for residency and selling their share in the Colorado business. Right now Eddyline is brewing six batches a month, using a very shiny 1000L Premier Stainless brewery.
“Right now we’re fighting with immigration to prove we are successful and a benefit to New Zealand, but whether we continue this experiment or not is up in the air. The really big dream would be to launch several Eddyline pubs around the country, in Queenstown, Rotorua, and brew the beer in Nelson. Any area with outdoor activities – mountain biking, surfing, you name it, that’s where we should be. And look across the Tasman to Cairns or Brisbane, there’s potential over there.”
Eddyline Brewery & Pizzeria, 8 Champion Road, Richmond, Tasman. Tell them Beertown recommends the pizzas.