web analytics

Aftermath of the NZ quake

February 25, 2011

The quake hit in Sumner/Lyttleton just over the Port Hills and it’s thought the basalt formations below the port hills acted as an accelerator for the shock. It went from there to the CBD where the devastation you have seen occurred. On the way from the Port Hills to the CBD it had to go through Woolston where the Three Boys Brewery is located. So Ralph and Brigid Bungard’s brewery took a lot of damage, as did Cassels and Sons a new brewery.

The grey muck in the attached photos, taken at Three Boys Brewery, is the “liquefaction” which was pouring out the ground as I walked around the city is was up to my ankles in places. I walked to Harringtons Brewery in Ferry Road which was the suburb next in line after Woolston. I found the brewery locked as everyone had gone home to check on homes and loved ones. I have since spoken to the brewer Mark White and he described being violently thrown to the floor the lights going out and hearing tremendous noise and movement. He got some light on to find 20,000 litre fermenters having moved ½ to 1 metre, he was obviously quite distressed. I then met a man from Canterbury brewery (owned by Lion Nathan) and he described being in a meeting room next to the warehouse. Their warehouse took heavy damage in the Sept 2010 (7.1) quake and it took it again in this 6.3 hit. He said the full kegs were slamming against the wall and they feared for their lives but the wall held and all are safe.

I then walked up Fitzgerald Avenue to get to Pomeroys I arrived at the corner of Fitzgerald and Kilmore Streets having witnessed destruction into the inner CBD. I then saw the historic Wards brewery site total devastated. The 1930’s Malting tower was shatters and open to the elements. I walked around the corner and expected the beautiful building to be laid low. Much to my surprise and pleasure it had held up. This place is the centre of the Canterbury craft scene and as an open house is a very important site for our guys.

I found Ava Wilson (Steve Pomeroy’s step daughter and Manager) alive and kicking with all her staff. They had been taking a delivery of kegs from Craig Bowen’s BeerNZ and had said these were firing all over the road like missiles. Meanwhile inside the staff cowered in terror as wine bottles, plates and everything else were being showered them. The building held and they all got out. The building right next to them and connected did not survive.

We all then gathered next door in Pomeroys B&B, a single story old wooden building in bungalow style which had escaped both earthquakes without a scratch. It became a gathering point for a lot of distressed people for a well needed glass of something stronger a beer they had salvaged. All the time major aftershocks were rolling through in the 4-5.8 range and I realised just what it would have been like to be in Christchurch after the September shake. It is debilitating, chipping away at frayed nerves and I was a new to this.

The people of Christchurch had just begun to emerge from their shells after the September shock, they had been commenting how the aftershocks were disappearing and were feeling confident enough to venture in the CBD. The wham this happens they are devastated but they are such a resilient hardy crew that they will rise from this and go on as evidenced by the photos attached.

We spent the night taking a measure of strength from grain spirit in an attempt to usher in Morpheus but the violent shocks put paid to this. During the day and evening people would walk in various states of disarray. One man had had his house knocked down around him and walked out. One more had been downtown and escaped a collapsed building within seconds where others weren’t so lucky. The smoke from the burning buildings was all pervasive and reminded as all constantly of the poor souls trapped in the CTV and Pyne Gould Corporation Buildings being desperately dug to by the rescue teams from all our friends worldwide.

We rung texted around as best we could ticking off our list of brewing industry people making sure they were all ok. This was finally finished to the positive yesterday, everyone is present and accounted for. The Dux took damage but Dick Fife is ok, Paul Hogan from Yellow Cross is ok, they were in the CBD. Deflux who do the design work for the Brewers Guild were in the building adjacent to the pancaked CTV building they all got out ok. I had been with them less than an hour before the shock hit. Southern Grain Spirits at Kaiapoi and Brew Moon at Amberly are ok. Wigram and Matsons kept brewing that day or have brewed since.  The path of destruction seems to be a channel and luckily they are out side it.

I had been at Canterbury Brewery at 12.30 pm on the day of the quake and had decided to walk from there to Harringtons Brewery as it was a sunny warm day. I had walked along St. Asaph St where it met  Soren Erickson, his wife Monique and their new born baby. They were in their car heading back to Blenheim where Soren is head brewer for Renaissance. He also owns 8 Wired Brewery and we had all been at a tasting the previous evening at Pomeroys. Like me, he was in Christchurch for a Brewers Guild meeting we had at the Twisted Hop. I stayed chatting to him at the intersection longer than I should have and it was only later that I would learn the result of this.

I continued my stroll to the corner of Colombo and St.Asaph Streets where I wanted to get some lunch. I looked to my left into Colombo St and this is the old part and very attractive and I thought I would go there. For some reason I can’t fathom I turned to my right and saw The Joyful Luck Bakehouse and I thought I would buy a pie. I then looked the pies and thought my waistline did not need it and elected to go next door to the Chinese restaurant The Joyful Luck Restaurant and as I stepped under the very substantial lintel the quake hit.

The noise and terror are difficult to describe as 20-30 people struggle for position under this spot but it was awful. Our building held and we walked out to discover the “The Joyful Luck Bakehouse” a shattered ruin and the whole section of Colombo St, I had elected not to turn left into, a scene of complete destruction reminiscent of the worst terror attacked in Baghdad. A building had fallen and a bus and lives were lost and there but by the grace of God – and fear of an expanding girth –  I might have been.

We all began to contact our loved ones and a scene of total confusion reigned as shocks kept coming in. I received a message from Soren saying if he had not delayed to talk with me he and his family would be below the rubble. I was glad that the fact I talk to much had finally helped save someone from a terrible fate.

The one saving grace of all of this has been the way the community came together in adversity. Steve Pomeroy and myself drove to get his dog from his shattered house in the Cashmere hills and you could see people gathering in groups. They were pooling resources sharing and helping each other surrounded by building in various states of collapse, roads with giant sinkholes, broken bridges.

Like the Canterbury community our brewing community is pulling together to get the resources our guys need to get up and running as quick as possible. This could range from contract production outside of Christchurch, help repairing stainless and  raw materials.

We are waiting for the people on the ground to evaluate their positions so they can tell us what they need, I am going to be liaising with Craig Bowen, my fellow Guild member, so we can be help not a hindrance in the rebuilding phase. We are also planning fund raising projects outside the affected area and will keep you all informed.

We are concentrating on letting them know we are there for them and then helping with the task of getting them back up and running. For Canterbury this is the best thing we can do get money back in there and give them the confidence to persist and survive.

Please spare your thoughts for people still trapped and the awful nightmare of the families at home waiting for news of missing people,

Regards David

Chairman Brewers Guild of New Zealand

Tags: , ,

4 Responses to Aftermath of the NZ quake

  1. Rumble Rumble « Pileus on March 3, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    […] whining, especially as other folks have stories far better than mine.  Back to economics. Or, at least to economically informed […]

  2. Scott Vincent on February 28, 2011 at 9:00 am


    Our thoughts are with all the people suffering in Christchurch. The turn of phase …”but the grace of god” really brings home how close you and many others were.

    Chin up


  3. […] PS – for a much better quake beer blog, read David Cryer’s personal account. […]

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Beer Bar Band and BeerMasons Beer Club, AustralianBrewsNews. AustralianBrewsNews said: Latest on Brews News:: Aftermath of the NZ quake http://www.brewsnews.com.au/2011/02/aftermath-of-the-nz-quake/ […]

Leave a Reply