Meet the Maker: Hawkes Bay Brewing Company

The mission of the Hawkes Bay Brewing Company is to capture the purity and essence of Hawkes Bay and lovingly distil it into every glass of their natural craft beer and cider. The team caught up with Katie Jeffrey to learn more about the business of beer.

What is your company background? How did you start the business?

“Hawkes Bay Independent Brewery opened a small brewery in Onekawa in 1995 and in 2007, the Brewery was moved to Meeanee, Napier. They also added a purpose-built tasting room alongside, in amongst the orchard trees, with a sunny café and 18 beers and ciders on tap. Hawkes Bay Brewing Co (as it is now known) is still privately owned and dedicated to producing natural, high-quality craft beers, ciders & ginger beers in a semi-rural apple orchard. Our range of bottled beers is presented in a unique attractive 330ml bottle with the Hawkes Bay Brewing Co barrelman logo embossed on the front. This sets our range apart from the standard brown/green bottle brigade and these smart bottles sit well both on the restaurant table and on the coffee table at home.”

What is the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?

“Our Hawkes Bay current range consists of:

“Black Duck: Bold flavours of toffee, burnt caramel, coffee and chocolate characterise this dark ale. Brewed with five malts in 18th-century London-style.”

“Pilsner: Brewed using traditional Czech pilsner methods. Fruits and spicy hop characters are dominant.”

“Pure Lager. All-natural ingredients – no added sugars – just water, malted barley, hops and yeast.”

“IPA (India Pale Ale): A full-bodied all-malt brew. No added sugars. An aroma of citrus and tropical fruits with a pleasant after-bitter taste.”

“APA (American Pale Ale): A rich malt body. Mild hop characters add fruitiness and a pronounced bitterness to this deep amber ale.”

“Summer Pilsner: Spiced with ginger and tempered by the subtle addition of natural Hawkes Bay honey.”

“Kingston Cider: Sparkling medium dry cider. Full-bodied English style cider made from a variety of traditional cider apples.”

“Perry cider: A classy cider – the nose is all pear with just a hint of apple. A lively fizz under those lovely pear flavours.”

“Calabash: Apple cider with a gentle hint of passionfruit and a light blush. Low alcohol.”

“Red Sangria: Our best Hawkes Bay red wine and fruit with a delicate spritz. Drink Hawkes Bay and dream of Spain – with mandarin, apple & orange zest.”

“Ginger Fusion: Wildly popular! Our Old Fashioned Ginger Beer with a mandarin infusion.”

“Old Fashioned Ginger Beer. Non-alc Real old fashioned ginger beer. Using Grandma’s old recipe to give that wonderful deep resounding flavour.”

“Spiced Ginger Beer: Delightfully spicy and refreshing. A little heat generated by ginger, lemon, cinnamon and a hint of chilli. Finishing with a lovely long slow burn.”

Has there been any recent company news?

“In March this year, our Pure Lager won the Champion Gold Award in the lager section of the 2017 New World Beer & Cider Awards. We were thrilled to have won the top lager in this category and proud to have this beer ranged in all New Worlds throughout New Zealand. We are a multi-award winning brewery with a proud history of success at the annual New Zealand Brewers Guild Awards.”

“We have recently welcomed Jessie Hines to our staff as our Beer Baroness in the Bay of Plenty. Jessie is based in Tauranga and is enjoying visiting our wider Bay of Plenty customers and promoting our bottled products to local restaurants, bars and cafes.”

“Late last year, we introduced our new Red Sangria 330ml bottles along with our new Spiced Ginger Beer (non-alc) 330ml bottles. These two new offerings were quietly introduced and were a little late for the summer menus but they are now picking up momentum and we are looking forward to strong summer sales.”

What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?

“We are always looking for new product ideas and new formats for our existing products. We will be releasing a new non-alcoholic seasonal special in October with a limited run and we are currently looking at an alternative size option to our 330ml bottle that will fit nicely to satisfy our distributors’ demands.”

Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability?

“Our beers, ciders, sangria and ginger beers are sold in a number of restaurants, cafés and bars throughout New Zealand. We have company representatives based in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Wellington & Dunedin. We have our own keg distribution facility in Auckland so we control our own destiny and can react with our own personal service and we are fortunate to have a good working relationship with our keg distribution company in Wellington. We also have keg distribution channels in the Manawatu and Taranaki regions.”

“Our kegs and some of our bottled range are sold through Gilmours Mt Roskill (Foodstuffs) and our solid-performing Black Duck (500ml) is sold in many Countdowns throughout New Zealand.”

“Liquor King in Napier & Tauranga stock our full range of products, as does The Merchant of Taupo (Taupo) along with their online sales arm, (click the HB Craft tab). Regional Wines & Blackboard Beverages in Wellington also distribute our full portfolio.”