Change brewing in Invercargill
Invercargill Brewery is changing its business model to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape of New Zealand's brewing industry.
The company is moving away from its focus on contract brewing, and working towards opening its own on-site entertainment venue.
Co-owners Steve and Amanda Nally said the company was in the process of wrapping up its agreements with its current contract brewers, the largest of which is Yeastie Boys (a few contract brewers, such as the Southern Malt Collective, will remain).
Since 2008, Yeastie Boys have had their beer made at Invercargill Brewery, but will now be moving the bulk of their production to Auckland.
At the same time, Invercargill Brewery are setting up Asylum, a function and events space at their site on Leet St.
The 190 seat event space is set to open in September, pending approval of its liquor license and fundraising of $32,000.
Amanda Nally said the change was reflective of the way the brewery industry was moving.
"We always believed the industry would regionalise, because there is nothing new under the sun, it's just a natural cycle.
"You get lots of little regional breweries, they get snapped up by bigger breweries, and then it comes back again.
"When I first met Steve a decade ago there were 56 breweries in NZ, now there's 200."
Nally said while the contract model had been very effective in promoting diversity into the industry, there was less of a need for it now.
The logistics of transporting beer around the country had become an issue, and had been made worse by the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes, Nally said.
"It's just so difficult to get freight from Invercargill up the country, and what was already difficult was made far more difficult [by the most recent earthquake]."
Nally said the move away from contract brewing would allow the company to focus more on its regional distribution in Southland and Otago.
The new entertainment venue, Asylum, would form part of that regional shift, Nally said.
During the day, it would be utilised as part of the company's brewery tours, while at night would play host to local bands and national comedy acts.
Steve Nally said the new space would be an asset for the community as well as for their own business.
"Profile is important for any business, and with different genres of music and art, you get a different crowd every time.
"It gives the opportunity for the whole of the community to come into it – we're part of the community too, and we want it to thrive and grow.
Nally said it would also provide an opportunity to promote their brand further afield.
"Food tourism for Southland is very underdeveloped, when you consider the produce we have in our backyard.
"We're not as a whole celebrating it – we do bits and pieces, but not the whole thing.
"My vision from an export perspective, is that we're not chasing export but rather looking at tourism, people coming here.
"This is the focal point of the brewery experience.
"When people come here and we do our best to give them the best time possible, when they leave they tell the world."