Room for another brewpub, Wellington?
Heyday Beer Co. launches in Wellington next week, with follow-up launches coming in Auckland and Christchurch.
The new venture is contract brewing while building a brewpub in upper Cuba St, Te Aro. It’s a partnership between Hamish Sail and Hannah Blackwood, with Andrew Collins and brewer Sam Whitney.
Heyday launches with two beers, both brewed at North End Brewing in Waikanae – an apricot ale, dry-hopped with Citra and Amarillo and conditioned on apricot puree; and an American pale ale. Brewer Sam describes both as, “hop-focused on a simple, pared-back malt bill”.
Sam’s well known to Wellington beer fans. He’s worked at Hashigo Zake, and has been brewing commercially since joining Panhead three and a half years ago. His experience includes home brewing and working as a chef.
“I managed the 21st Amendment brewpub in San Francisco in 2004 to 2006 and really learned a lot from the brewer there, Shaun O’Sullivan. I was a chef and got to see it from the kitchen and learnt about all the beers. I think there’s a lot of skill sets that translate across. Focus on flavours, being able to visualise a flavour in your head and figuring out the techniques that it takes to make that a reality, from your imagination to in the glass.”
The other business partners’ day jobs are relevant too. Hannah is managing the brand’s design and co-ordinating the brewpub’s interior. “I will be working with the architect doing a lot of picking for fittings. Hamish and I are renovating our second house so I’m used to picking colours and tiles and materials.”
Hamish and Andrew both work in project management, in construction and mechanical engineering. Hamish says means they’ll have little room for excuses if they miss their 21 September opening date. “We’re pretty confident, and the 21st of September also happens to be my birthday.”
The business end of Heyday’s brewpub will be the 1200L brewery being built right now in China. “It’s a combination mash tun/hot liquor tank, we’ve got four fermenters and a bright tank to start,” says Sam.
“I learnt so much from Mike Neilson at Panhead because he is such a mechanically-oriented person. I was there at the start, when it was a much smaller brewery than it is today, so I learned a lot that I didn’t realise I had learned until it got to the point where we were trying to put a brewery together ourselves.
“I don’t really want to have a core range. The appeal for me of a brewpub is the creativity side of things. I didn’t want to be stuck being a production brewer and making the same four things over and over. The modern consumer always wants the next new thing anyway, and in the brewpub environment we get direct feedback from our customers.”
With five brewpubs open or building in Te Aro, Heyday is arriving at the peak of a wave. Hamish says the environment has changed since he and Hannah first drew up their rough business plan nearly three years ago, in a hotel in the US.
“You could say that craft beer is in its heyday now, but it will continue to grow. If you said 15 years ago, ‘There’s enough coffee shops’, now you can get eight or ten types of coffees at every corner in Wellington and that’s fantastic. I see it being the same for beer.”
Hannah and Hamish are also keen home brewers, and Hamish says Sam won’t be keeping the shiny new kit to himself. “Now we’re building a brewpub it would be silly to go, ‘No I don’t want to brew beer any more’. We doing it because we love brewing beer and we love drinking beer and we want to be part of the community and get amongst it.”
Sam: “I’ll start him off cleaning kegs.”