Behemoth Brewing‘s crowdfunded brewpub-restaurant has finally opened after a four month COVID-19 delay.
The brewpub, named Churly’s for the Behemoth mascot, is located at the top of Auckland’s Dominion Road, on the city fringe.
It’s part of the recently-established Auckland Beer Mile in the Eden Terrace-Mt Eden area that includes Urbanaut, Garage Project’s taproom, Galbraith’s Brother’s Beer and others.
In Australia, Behemoth trades as Chur due to a trademark clash.
Churly’s was originally set to open in March but the COVID-19 lockdown and subsequent delays pushed it back. It opened to the public on Sunday 2nd August after a special shareholders’ opening on Saturday.
Even then the opening was rushed to coincide with Auckland Beer Week and there is still plenty of work to do including exterior painting, but founder Andrew Childs is delighted with the finished project, which he hopes will have a friendly neighbourhood vibe reminiscent of the hit TV show Cheers.
With 635 investors putting in $2.06 million, it is New Zealand’s biggest crowdfunded brewery operation, just surpassing the $2 million raised by Parrotdog for its Wellington brewery expansion in 2016.
Situated in a semi-industrial area in a building formerly occupied by a business that specialised in custom-made vehicle exhaust systems, Churly’s features a 2,500L brewery, a barrel area, bar, restaurant and butchery.
The butchery, included a meat-drying room, brings in the unique skillset of Childs’ wife Hannah Childs-Miller, aka A Lady Butcher.
Born and bred in Portland, Childs-Miller is a New York-trained chef and butcher who has worked in some of the world’s best restaurants as well as doing adventurous stints in Antarctica cooking for scientists at a US base.
She specialises in cured meats, smallgoods and nose-to-tail eating. The on-site butchery will prepare all the meat for the restaurant – from sausages and burgers to steaks and speciality cuts.
While the restaurant and bar are up and running – with possibly New Zealand’s largest selection of Hazy IPAs and pale ales on tap – the brewery will not be commissioned until October as Childs irons out a few kinks in the set-up. He will continue to contract brew at a variety of breweries around New Zealand, including Steam, Deep Creek and 8 Wired.
The new brewery will feature a 2,500L three-vessel brewhouse, eight 5,000L fermenters and three 300L fermenters, all from Alpha Brewing in Nebraska, supplied by FB*PROPAK.
It’s the first Alpha Brewing kit to be used in New Zealand and Childs hoped for an annual capacity of around 350,000L. That will be nowhere near Behemoth’s forecast volume this year so they will continue to contract brew much of their core range.
For Childs, the brewpub is the high-point in a journey with Churly, a slightly grotesque but lovable mascot who came to life through good luck rather than planning.
“One of our designers had drawn this character and he was doing the thumbs-up and we thought ‘that’s great for a new beer we’d called Chur’,” he said.
“And then we realised we could do other things with him. It just happened naturally that way – we didn’t think let’s come up with a concept and run with it – it was a happy accident beer that turned into 110-plus beers. We named him Churly because he first appeared on the Chur! pale ale.”
Churly has since donned a number of guises, changing costume for each beer and occasionally being transformed to film and TV characters such as Otto from The Simpsons, The Dude from The Big Lebowski, Samuel Jackson in his Pulp Fiction character… and Donald Trump for beers such Dump The Trump, Impeachment and Not The Most Stable Genius.