Parrotdog’s return to Wellington’s Beervana festival for the first time since 2017 reflects the huge growth it has gone through in recent years.
The brewery launched at Beervana in 2011 with its cult IPA, Bitter Bitch, though in a sign of the times it has recently seen Birdseye Hazy IPA become its number one seller.
The growth has seen it return to the upcoming Beervana beer festival after an absence of a three years.
“The reason we decided to stop attending Beervana was really only due to a lack of resource in the event management side of the business,” Kristofski said.
“We’d made a conscious effort to focus on building the premises at Lyall Bay and growing our distribution network in order to grow into that site.”
The brewery went through rounds of successful crowdfunding in 2016 and 2017 – raising a total of NZ$3 million. One of the goals of the second round of crowdfunding was secure its own sales and distribution team and that’s made all the difference says Kristofski.
Parrotdog now has six in that team under manager Paul Watson.
“That’s helping amazingly and while it’s been another massive learning curve it’s put us in a unique position of doing everything under one roof. The fact that we’ve got sales and distribution in house means we’ve got a lot of control of the flow of our product.
“It’s one of the best things we’ve ever done.”
Parrotdog now have 45 staff in total, a far cry from the days when it was just three Matts – Kristofski, Warner and Stevens.
“We’ve got a great team now. It’s not up to just us to come up with the ideas and try to execute them.
“Once you get a network of creative thinkers around you it makes all the difference.
“It’s part of our growth – we’re quite fortunate that we’re at a point now that we can have positions like that within the company. When you’re at a small scale you’re spread across so many different things and it’s so hard to think at a creative level when you’re spread across a million things at once.
Many would think huge growth and 45 staff would bring plenty of stress but Kristofski said it is the other way around.
“It was a lot more stressful at that smaller level – we have different things to worry about now with the scale we’re at but we have those people to support us.”
One of those new people is events co-ordinator, Caleb Sircombe, who was hired “to up our game in the events area” and his addition to the team is one of the reasons they are back at Beervana.
“It wasn’t only Beervana we pulled back from,” Kristofski said.
“It was events in general – and it’s only been in past 12 months we’ve decided to up our game in that area.
“That’s down to bringing on Caleb – he’s really leading the charge in that space for us with our mobile bar van, which is a Volkswagen Transporter.
“He’s looking for places for us to exhibit, and using that as a platform has streamlined everything for us in terms of a roll-out strategy for promoting events.”
The mobile bar goes to licenced events but they are also looking at applying for special licences for it.
It will be part of their beachside-themed bar at Beervana.
While Parrotdog hit the public consciousness with Bitter Bitch at Beervana in 2011 – the beer is no longer its No 1 seller – which is a sign of the times.
It’s been overtaken by their recently released Birdseye Hazy IPA (5.8$% abv) which is sold in 330ml six-packs at a great price of $20. The combination of right price, right style and right format has made it one of the most successful craft beer launches this year. Across New Zealand retailers say they cannot get enough of it.
“Ever since we started Parrotdog, Bitter Bitch has been our hero beer and bestseller,” Kristofski said.
“Birdseye is the first time we’ve produced a beer that’s outsold Bitter Bitch and it’s outselling it two to one. And that’s happened in just two or three months. We literally can’t make enough of it.
“It’s quite a bizarre feeling because we’ve got quite a bit of capacity now and we still can’t keep up.”
The beer is so successful they are now questioning their decision to release a lower abv hazy at Beervana – a 4.8% abv beer called Yellowhammer.
“At a production meeting the other day we asked ourselves: why are we doing this?”
“But we’re aiming at that festival market and we hope to capture that audience that find Birdseye a little bit too much with the abv.
“We’re not expecting it to perform as well as Birdseye but it will complement it.”
Beervana returns this year, to be held at Sky Stadium in Wellington on 20th-21st November.