8 Wired Brewing was founded in 2009, but its story dates back a little further, to a smart Christmas present founder Søren Eriksen received from his wife Monique: a Coopers homebrew kit. Today, this inventive brewery is followed by a broad international fan base and widely recognised as one of the best breweries in the world.
We asked Eriksen to tell us a bit more about the brand and their plans moving forward.
What is your company background? How did you start the business?
“Our story began on Christmas Day, 2005. That was when my future wife, Monique, gave me the classic Coopers homebrew kit. We were living in Perth at the time, and I brewed my first ‘lagers’ in the blistering Western Australian summer, without any kind of cooling or knowledge. Needless to say, the beers were awful, but I was hooked nonetheless.
A couple of years later we had moved to New Zealand, and I started dabbling more into specialty grains and hops. Before long I was brewing all grain beers, and the hobby was taking a stronghold on my life. Somehow, Monique and I persuaded ourselves to take the leap to professional brewing, and we devised a plan to start a brew pub, preferably at a quiet beach community somewhere in the North Island. To gain some commercial experience I got a job at Renaissance Brewing in Blenheim. The plan was to stay there for three months, but we quickly realised that we lacked the capital or experience to start our own brewery. Instead, I continued to work for Renaissance, and after a year they generously let us rent their equipment and tanks when they were available. Thus 8 Wired Brewing came to life as a contract brewery. We brewed our first beer in October 2009, and things went fast from there. In 2011, we received the highest brewing honour awarded in New Zealand as we were crowned Champion Brewery at the Brewers Guild Awards. The past four years we have also been featured on the prestigious Ratebeer.com list of “100 best brewers in the World”, as the only Southern Hemisphere brewery.
After five years of contract brewing, eventually at four different breweries across New Zealand, we now finally have our very own brewery (in Warkworth, North of Auckland), where we brew and package everything.”
What are the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
“Most uniquely, we have an extremely broad fan base and reach internationally. Our iStout has been peer rated online internationally as NZ's best beer (overall points score) for the last five years. We are currently exporting across the globe, which is anomalous for a brewery of our size and relative obscurity domestically. Those in the know, know us well, we are focussing now on taking our amazing beers to the masses.
We have an extremely diverse range of brews ranging from 4.4% Session IPA's to 16% Barrel Aged Imperial Stouts and everything in between. We set ourselves ahead of the pack in the sour and barrel-aged game in NZ and are internationally recognised as one of the best brewers in the world. Taking inspiration from both traditional and new world brewing techniques, we have strived to make new and exciting flavours to keep things as exciting and engaging as possible for craft beer fans. Our range has many classic brews like IPAs, Pale Ales, etc. but features such unique brews as:
Flat White Coffee Milk Stout, made with domestically roasted C4 Espresso coffee beans, lactose and vanilla bean pods.
Hippy Berliner, a kettle-soured light hoppy ale which we also steep with a variety of fresh produce like cucumbers, basil or cascara coffee cherries (to name a few).
Big Smoke Manuka & Beechwood Smoked Porter, a rich, smokey and intense dark beer made with smoked malt.
Wild Feijoa, a super sour treat barrel-aged for two years in Sauvignon Blanc barrels and fermented with a literal tonne of fresh locally-sourced feijoas. We try to stay ahead of the curve and hope to keep this momentum going into the future.”
Has there been any recent company news?
“This year, we signed a distribution deal for our packaged products with Quench, the recently re-branded Sacred Hill Wine Company who had great success distributing Pinhead nationwide before their acquisition by Lion. This has seen a dramatic increase in packaged volume and, having just expanded our capacity earlier this year, we are again at capacity and expanding. A great problem to have.
We have recently launched NZ's first Sour 6 pack, Hippy Berliner, only the second in the Southern hemisphere. This brew works well with a blending of flavours, and we have one such seasonal, Cucumber Hippy Berliner that will be launched as a packaged product in the coming months. Watch out for that one; it’s a game changer.”
What are the plans for the business moving forward? Is there any expansion on the horizon?
“Based on the current uplift from our new distribution contract, we are targeting a lift to hit the 1,000,000 Litre p/a threshold. We're two-thirds of the way there now and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Other than that, it’s just business as usual producing as much amazing beer as we can and continued growth going forward.”
Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability? If so, where would you like to see the product situated?
“With our new distribution deal we have packed in stock across everyone from 4 Square to New World, Farro to Glengarry's, and all major liquor outlets, though these are at a store-by-store discretion, so we look forward to growth as more and more venues take us on. We would like to obviously see more shelf space and ranging at ALL stores in these groups going forward.”