Upper Hutt is starting to look like the Planet Hoptron.
With four breweries clustered in and around the South Pacific Industrial Park, Upper Hutt’s combination of amble space, realistic rents and good water is becoming the go-to destination for establishing brewers.
Boneface (pron. BONE-face, not Bonny-face) opened in March this year. Owners Matt and Selena Dainty are sci-fi fans. “We’ve built our brand around comic book characters”, Matt says.
“Our main character is Ozzie (a space chimp) who’s leader of Bone Face Outlaws from Planet Hoptron. That story is behind all of our seasonal releases and we do a themed poster for each release.
“All our characters come from the Planet Hoptron which is the planet of the hops, so that’s reflected in the styles of beers we make. All our beers come from our stories. We came up with Ozzie before we came up with the brewery name. There’s going to be more characters come out and eventually we’ll put a comic book together.”
Boneface’s other strength is its kitchen specialising in slow-cooked and smoked meats. It’s popular with locals and with Wellington beer fans making the journey north. “When we moved to Upper Hutt we saw some opportunities to bring good beer and good food together. We’re smoking our own meat and doing food that you don’t find in Upper Hutt.”
Matt’s a brewers’ brewer with a respected track record. He grew up in Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom, but his first brewery job was at Blenheim’s Renaissance Brewing.
“I started bottling and keg-cleaning, and when I got the job I started brewing at home.” Matt worked under former Champion Brewer Søren Eriksen. “I got to learn a lot from him. It went from there and eventually I moved into the brewery, and I ended up being the head brewer for the last two and half years I was there.”
Matt and his wife Selena then decided to open their own brewery. “We were going to do it Nelson but a good friend was brewing in this area and said we should come to Upper Hutt.”
“I ended up working for Panhead as head brewer and ops manager. I knew Upper Hutt was being very proactive in getting brewers here and they want to see things work. Upper Hutt used to have a lot of interesting manufacturing and it’s good to bring that back.”
Matt knew he’d found the right place when he saw the potential of the South Pacific Industrial Park brewing hub. “I’ve seen lots of breweries run out of space and didn’t want to make that mistake. I’d seen this place and liked the natural light and the length of the site with two entrances. (Lessor) Malcolm Gillies was good to work with and we were able to get two bays, which gives us 1000 square metres. ”
That’s enough room for a brewery, bar, taproom and kitchen – a one-stop-shop where guests can enjoy a meal, a beer, watch the beer being made, and take beer home. The 2000L brewery started operating in March 2017, and produced 70,000L in its first five months.
The beer was so well received that Boneface was working hard to keep up with demand, says Matt: “Stock is going out quicker than I can actually get it to the fridge!”
Boneface Brewing Co. bar and taproom, Blenheim Street, Upper Hutt https://www.facebook.com/Bonefacebrewing/