Based in Kaikoura, Emporium Brewing have a 600L to 1000L brewery fit with an 18-hole mini golf course and two escape rooms. Founders Paul and Laura Finney started contract brewing when they lived in Christchurch and had a homebrew shop called ‘Finney’s Homebrew Emporium’. “I was looking for beers that were a bit more off the straight and narrow,” said co-owner and head brewer, Paul. “So, our first release was an ordinary bitter, then a red IPA. When we moved to Kaikoura in 2016, we opened just five weeks before the earthquake. I had to create more core range beers like IPA, Pilsner and a couple of pale ales.” Since then, the duo has got their brewery up and running and have branched out into the more fun beers like wit beers, sour beers, Belgian-style beers like saisons, tripels, and blonds, which are the lesser known varieties but according to Paul, lots of fun to drink.
“Apart from having a mini-golf course on the grounds, something that not many breweries can say they have, our beers are standout due to their drinkability. I think that great beer always leaves you wanting another sip.” Rather than trying to shock consumers with taste, Paul believes making a beer that is well balanced and well-made should trump anything else.
Getting into the Top 30 at the NWBCA two years in a row is a definite highlight for the business, particularly being such a small brewery.
During lockdown, Emporium’s online store was set up which enabled them to increase sales opportunity to other parts of the country. “The love we felt from getting sales from the North Island, when we have generally just had our beer for sale in Kaikoura or Christchurch, was immense.”
Alongside sharing the love of good beer with more Kiwis, Emporium also pivoted the business to make hand sanitiser. “Ours is made from a barrel aged Belgian strong that went a bit odd in the barrel so must be the most artisan hand sanitiser on the market!”
The team are constantly bringing out new beers so to pin point one to keep an eye out for would be hard. However, during the lockdown period, the team did brew up an Imperial stout called ‘Go Hard, Go Early’ which is going to be aged in bourbon barrels and released later this year. “Each barrel is getting an extra adjunct. Things like coconut, vanilla, and coffee. Should be an interesting three-pack once we are done!”
Paul highlighted the next big thing in the category to be Kviek – a yeast that comes from rural Norway.
“Our beer ‘Drop, Cover, Hold’ is fermented with a Kviek yeast and as a brewer, they are super easy to use and give off wonderful flavours. The ‘Drop, Cover, Hold’ beer has no fruit in it, yet smells like umbongo due to the character the yeast gives.