NWBCA Top 30 – Zeelandt Brewery

Zeelandt Brewery

Zeelandt Brewery was established in 2012 and operates on the family vineyard in Esk Valley, Hawke’s Bay.

“I combined brewing, education and travel around Europe with the idea to bring the variety of beer styles found in that part of the world to NZ,” said owner, Christopher Barber.

Made here in NZ and using some European ingredients, served fresh to locals.

“My brother grows the grapes to make wine under his own label Petane Wines, so it made sense for us to build on our land and leverage off each other as we grow.

Every brewery and head brewer has their own influences that create their unique style and the influence for Zeelandt came from the numerous styles that are found in the different regions of Europe. “I bring these to the market keeping them in style, integrating and balancing the flavours and letting each ingredient speak to the drinker. It becomes a journey and an experience. If we’ve done a good job the test is to want another. These styles aren’t one-hit-wonders, they’ve stood the test of time.”

Being awarded a Top 30 spot in the New World Beer and Cider Awards sits pretty high on the list of highlights for the brand as well as being granted permission to build a garden bar in the front of the brewery. “This way we can create an experience and share our story. A beer by the brewery and a wine on the vineyard, it’s something unique and we get to meet our customers and bring the community together.”

The brand has a good loyal base of customers and an online shop which helped them get through challenges like the recent lockdown. “It was a matter of letting these people know that we were still operating and attracting new customers that hadn’t used the online shop before. It was nice to have the support of Kiwis.”

Recently, Zeelandt released a dunkelweizen, Two Dukes and a saison, Workers Unite which are available as seasonal releases. Both of these have been bottle conditioned (refermented in the bottle), which gives the beer a fine carbonation and silky mouthfeel.

“We are soon to release Finders Keepers IPA, again this will be bottle conditioned. Each year we release a beer called Mary, changing the style from year to year. We have our thinking caps on at the moment and keep coming back to a particular style so that is something to look out for mid-spring.”

There is plenty of innovation and trends that emerge from this industry and a few breweries have built their story around this. “We are more focussed on brewing techniques rather than trends to get the best from our ingredients and equipment. Having a garden bar gives us a platform for a bit of innovation around the beer/wine space. We are pretty small so it’s also a matter of finding the time while running a business.”