West Coast craft beer
Up and down the West Coast, in offices and warehouses, home offices and kitchen tables, small businesses are flourishing. Development West Coast runs a nine-week programme called CO.STARTERS to equip aspiring entrepreneurs so they can turn ideas into action. Many of the businesses do not have a traditional store front, so in this series of Open for Business, the Greymouth Star and Development West Coast sample some of the emerging small enterprises that are helping shape the future.
Co.Starters graduates Sarah and Jason Johnson are making a leap into the world of entrepreneurship with their new brewery - Hopaholics. Sarah is the ‘mad scientist’ of the operation, with a background in biology and chemistry. Jason has a range of jobs, mainly in education, and is also an awesome brewer with a good head for business.
“We are currently developing an MPI plan as we build the new shed, after this we will be able to legally sell beer to the public,” Jason says. “At the moment we are in an extensive experimentation stage where our focus is trialing and refining our recipes with willing beer tasters!”
Between them Sarah and Jason have 38 years of brewing experience.
“We started brewing wine as poor students and used whatever cheap or free fruit we could find. After a while we started to get quite good at it. Some favourites were gorse flower, broom flower and elderberry. We loved sharing our experiments with friends,” Sarah says.
“When we had a bit more money we started to make kit beers and eventually moved on to all grain beer brewing. We thought we were passionate about brewing before, but when we started making all grain beer using gorgeous Motueka hops, divine malted barley from Canterbury and experimenting with interesting new flavours that was next level.
“Our best day is brew-day. Its magic, alchemy! Sharing our creations with our friends and family is fun for all.”
Sarah and Jason have recently taken their brewing skills and knowledge to the next stage, gaining formal qualifications from Massey University. They trained alongside professional brewers from breweries such as Sprig and Fern and Brothers brewery.
Excited by what they learned and knowing that the craft beer scene is growing everywhere else, they returned home and created the ‘West Coast Brewing And Drinking Association’. Their mission was to increase the enjoyment, knowledge and consumption of craft beers on the Coast.
“Seeing the interest that was generated, the Hopaholics Brewery concept was conceived,” Sarah explains.
“We are goal oriented. We already have people in Wellington asking to invest, a myriad of contacts with experienced brewers and loyal customers wanting to buy our product. We are currently building phase one of our business and hope to supply select cafes and tourist operators with beer, coastwide in 2019.
“We will run a subscription scheme where customers order beer and we deliver various ‘4-packs of 750ml bottles’, take away the empties and refill them, much like the milk deliveries of old. Taking care of the environment is really important to Hopaholics and we think reusing bottles is a wise choice.
“It is interesting that we will be the first small brewery in Greymouth since the four breweries in Greymouth amalgamated into Monteith’s Brewery seventy years or so ago. Beer making on the Coast has come full circle!
“Our philosophy is quality rather than quantity and our name Hopaholics reflects our focus on the flavour of the hops and malts rather than just the alcohol content. We would eventually like to open a taproom, possibly mobile for events and parties, where people can taste and take away our quality crafted beers in growlers or riggers,” Sarah says.
To help formalise their business ideas Sarah and Jason joined DWC’s Co.Starters course run in Greymouth earlier this year by WestREAP.
“Co.Starters was a natural progression for us to refine our initial ideas and learn more about how to run a business. It gave us dedicated time and access to the experts that we needed to develop our business model and enlighten us about aspects of business we had not considered.
“At times it was scary and made us think through some hard truths, but it was balanced by the optimism and enthusiasm of the wonderful tutors, Layla and Fergal, and our classmates. DWC have been extremely supportive by subsidising and organising the course which was seamlessly run by WestREAP.
“We now have a clearer image of who our customers are, we have an awesome pitch and we are armed with the confidence that there are a lot of people out there who are super supportive and encouraging of start-up businesses on the Coast and who also love amazing craft beer!”
Get your taste buds ready because it is not long until Hopaholics Brewery starts selling to the public. If you can not wait, make sure you attend the upcoming ‘West Coast homebrewer of the year competition’. Sarah and Jason can be contacted at: www.hopaholics.co.nz
“Co.Starters was a natural progression for us to refine our initial ideas and learn more about how to run a business. It gave us dedicated time and access to the experts that we needed to develop our business model and enlighten us about aspects of business we had not considered."
A promo video I made for Hopaholics! These guys make great tasting beers and they aren't scared of a little experimentation which makes for beautiful unique tasting craft beers. Go check them out! If your business could benefit from a short little promo video like this, please flick me a message!Posted by TNR Protography on Wednesday, April 14, 2021