Brewery profile – Fortune Favours, Leeds Street, Wellington

By BeertownNZ Tue, 08 Aug 2017 Wellington

Te Aro is rapidly turning into brewpub central

Already open – Tuatara Third Eye, Husk, Garage Project wild ferments project, Fork & Brewer

Building right now – Whistling Sisters, Heyday

Coming soon – Black Dog, moving to 216 Cuba St

Opening this week – Fortune Favours

Fortune Favours is a joint venture between Shannon Thorpe and Wellington Hospitality Group. Shannon’s worked in beer for 15 years; WHG operates 20 bars around Wellington and its suburbs.

After working for DB and Good George, Shannon could see the potential for his own brewpub. “For me this is chance to bring all my ideas to life. It’s still quite new when you compare Wellington to Portland where brewpubs are everywhere and I think we can bring some innovation to that space. By that I mean, ‘What’s everybody else doing and how can we do it different?”

Shannon’s drinks career started in the UK, selling V. He returned to New Zealand and worked in sales for DB. “I moved on to Monteith’s in marketing, back when it was craft and doing Baltic Porters and Tripels. I want to go on record to say I had nothing to do with trademarking Radler – that was post my time! I worked in bar development after Monteith’s, setting up bars and developing bar concepts. I was the conduit to the architects, the menu creators, the staff trainers, just helping to put everything together.”

Then came three and a half years at Good George, “one of those craft brands that no one realises how big they are”.

Fortune Favours is in a restored building on Leeds St, just a glass throw from Goldings Free Dive. The building itself was a furniture restoration business, and was the last industrial building in the funky hospo precinct.

“This site came on the radar in winter last year. We knew Husk was on the way and the Garage Project site was a badly kept secret. My initial attraction was even narrower – it was to bring a craft brewery into this laneway of craft bakeries and chocolate makers and everyone else. It’s like Melbourne but compacted even more. Then when we heard about all the other brewpubs opening and we thought, 'Great!'. If this becomes Brew Central for Wellington and all the tourists think this is place to go, then great!”

A brewpub needs a brewer, and Shannon approached Dale Cooper after DB's Black Dog picked up a bunch of medals in last year’s Brewers Guild Awards. Dale had resigned his position as secretary of the Society of Beer Advocates and was brewing at Black Dog. Dale was about to launch Graphic Brewing with Nolen Smith, while keeping his day job. 

“Shannon approached me and asked if I was interested in Fortune Favours and it was no-brainer.  That meant the day job had to go and Black Dog had to go. I thought this sounded awesome and I wanted to be in.”

Fortune Favours brewery is a 1000L two-vessel kit imported from China, using steam heating for the kettle and hot liquor tank. The first in-house brew is being made today, and the beer will be available in the bar, through other WHG venues, and to take away in custom-filled 946mL cans.

Shannon says the combination of cheap brewing technology, saturated off-premise sales, and retaining control on beer quality, make brewpubs an attractive proposition. 

“Craft beer's just seven percent of the market and whoever brings a new drinker to craft, we all win. So the risk is someone tries a craft beer that’s old or oxidised, and that’s a risk to all of us. Personally, we’re keeping the supply chain really tight so everything will be fresh

“It’s always a real balance to get the brew bar right and leave enough room for the hospitality side of things too. That’s the challenge for brew bars.  Everybody who’s built a brew bar has horror stories!” 

Fortune Favours’ final touches are being made completed right now and Shannon says the official opening is imminent – keep an eye on Fortune Favours Facebook page for the latest details.

Fortune Favours, 7 Leeds Street, Wellington

Photo: Shannon Thorpe (L), Dale Cooper (R)

By BeertownNZ Tue, 08 Aug 2017 Wellington