Oamaru nanobrewery Craftwork will this year undergo a significant expansion, growing its brewing operation by five times.
The brewery, which primarily brews Farmhouse and Belgian-style ales, was founded in 2014 and brewed 50 litres at a time. Craftwork has slowly grown over the past seven years and now produces 200 litres every brew day by doing a double mash on each of their two 50-litre Braumeister kits.
But that’s about to change; in a few months, co-owners and brewers Lee-Ann Scotti and Michael O’Brien, are expecting the delivery of a 500-litre Braumeister brew kit and move into a new venue.
Scotti says their current operation is just no longer sustainable.
“We do these massive brew days now, just to get 200 litres, and we’re pretty pooped,” she said.
“It’s really exhausting. Michael is still cleaning at eight o’clock at night, and I’m long gone. I’ve gone upstairs to make dinner and just be normal because I don’t really like working after 6pm.
“He’s a night owl and I’m an early bird, so I always get the brew going, early, and then he finishes the day. It’s just too much, we are getting too tired.”
The pair have also run out of room where they are now based, so have signed a lease on a much larger building in Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct, just a short walk from their current location. It is large enough to hold their new 500-litre brew kit, a 1000-litre coolship, all of their barrels and their tasting room – with room to grow.
“The [new] building is a beautiful Whitestone building, it’s twice as big as the one we’re in [currently], and we’ve got a 500-litre Braumeister on the water coming. So probably, in about three months, we will be in our new space – we’ll have more seats and we’ll be offering natural wines and a bit more Belgian-inspired food,” Scotti said.
She explained that they will still do a double mash on brew days to produce 1,000 litres at a time.
“So that is really exciting. That sort of capacity, it’s just ridiculous. We are ridiculous to other people, or other brewers, but I think that having the smaller barrels and just doing one [brew] at a time on a different evening means that we get quite a lot of difference in the terroir.”
Last month, Scotti and O’Brien also hired a new staff member, bar manager Alyssa Prentice, who has taken over the running of the Craftwork tasting room, the brewery’s social media channels, and assists in the brewery.
“We are just delighted,” Scotti says. “She’s worked in beer in Auckland and in California…and she has a lot of initiative, and we’ve gladly just handed [all that] over to her.”
“I’m excited because I get to float above the business again, and be more creative.”
Scotti says they’re hoping to open in their new space in June, with the hope of making the brewery and tasting room a must-visit for local and international tourists.
“I would really like Craftwork to be a destination for people to come and meet us, drink our beer and eat the food as an experience of maybe an otherness, like a special treat – so you walk through the door, and everything feels right.”