The popular Hop Federation brewery has been sold to the Māori-owned food and drinks company Kono.
The brewery, based in the hop-growing district of Riwaka, outside Nelson, was started in 2013 by brewer Simon Nicholas and his wife Nicki.
Both will stay on at the brewery – as head brewer and operations manager respectively.
The change of ownership will happen on August 3.
Nicholas told Brews News the decision to sell will allow Hop Federation to grow.
“We’ve done a good job of getting Hop Federation to where it is now, but we needed more expertise and more help,” he said.
“But we didn’t want to go down investor route and nor did we want to sell it and say ‘see ya later’. We wanted to make sure we still had lots of input but that we could work with a bigger team.
“With Kono – their values similar to ours, it’s a good fit and it will help grow Hop Federation.”
Hop Federation are a multi-award winning brewery but they had reached a point where everything they produced was sold locally and the effort needed to maintain a national profile was proving too much for a small family-run business.
“We were stretched to just supply our local area,” Nicholas said.
“Now we’re going to be able have that opportunity to brew a lot more and we’ll have a really good sales team to go out and sell more beer.
“And that’s great me – I won’t have to be out there doing the sales as well as everything else involved in running a business and producing all the beer at the same time.
“The other thing I’m really excited about is that Kono grow hops – so we’re going to be able to start playing a lot more with hops, coming direct from our own farms means we can experiment with new hop varieties being released.
“Nicky and I are happy where we’re at. This is a good next phase. We wanted to keep it local and still be heavily involved.”
Kono own award-winning wine brands Tohu and Kono, Tutū Cider, Annie’s 100% fruit snacks and Yellow Brick Road, a sustainable seafood supply business. They also grow apples, pears, kiwifruit and hops in Motueka.
Kono takes its name from a woven basket traditionally used to present food to guests, grows hops along with apples, pears, and kiwifruit in Motueka, and grows, harvests, processes and exports greenshell mussels.
“We’re very excited to have Hop Federation join us,” said Kono chief executive Rachel Taulelei.
“We’ve been growing hops for over a decade now, and having our own brewery puts us in this same space – it gives us opportunities for innovation and creativity that we don’t have as a hop-grower alone.”
To celebrate the sale Hop Federation has brewed a Kono Hazy IPA, with a label inspired by the Matariki (Pleiades) star cluster, the which signals the Māori New Year when it appears in the night sky mid-winter.
Kono is an associated business of Wakatū Incorporation. Based in Nelson, Wakatū has approximately 4,000 shareholders who descend from the traditional Māori land-owners of the Nelson, Tasman and Golden Bay regions at the top of the South Island.
No sale price was disclosed.