When graphic designers Chris Mills and Natasha Dahlberg moved from Boston to New Zealand to work in the film industry, they chose Silverstream as their new home for it having the fastest internet connection in the region. Their plan was to continue servicing their clients in the US but ten years later, in 2012, Upper Hutt proved the perfect place for them to start a craft-brewery.
Chris explains, “I’d been a home brewer for 20 years. And as graphic designers and animators we knew a lot about design but we’d never designed a brewery!”
In 2010, the couple converted their garage and rumpus room in Silverstream into a commercial kitchen. With a 50 litre brewing facility underneath their house and the sound of wood pigeons (kereru) in their back garden, Kereru Brewing was born.
Their next move was to turn a derelict and dusty carpet factory (once Feltex) in Upper Hutt, into a micro-brewery with the capacity to make 1,800 litres of beer. “Chris designed and managed the whole process,” Natasha says proudly. “He read a lot about how to do it and learned a huge amount!”. Chris confirms, “It has been a truly exciting and terrifying thing to do!”
On moving to New Zealand Chris and Natasha were impressed by the superior quality and taste of locally-grown food. “Everything tasted so fresh,” Natasha says. New Zealand’s unique ingredients such as pohutukawa honey, karengo and kumara have inspired the couple most. Chris says, “We like to think of our brand as a celebration of New Zealand in a bottle”. Malts and hops are sourced locally too.
Kereru Brewing started out making ales but after moving to a more controlled environment (temperature), its range grew. Kereru’s menu now boasts 11 different beers including porters, stouts, pilsners and lagers.
Its tasting room encourages beer enthusiasts to try something new or fill a flagon with their favourite brew. Kereru distributes its range throughout New Zealand and to meet the needs of small retailers and cafes, it’s developed a ‘Box of Birds’ – a mixed selection of beer (12 bottles) delivered in a single box.
Kereru’s relatively new premises suit its founders well for a raft of reasons. “There were empty warehouses available,” Chris explains, “but we needed sufficient electricity, drains and gas. Because Feltex was a large manufacturer, everything we needed was here. And the building is big enough to accommodate our plans to expand
And of course, as Chris points out, there is the water. “The world’s best breweries depend on the world’s best water. Upper Hutt’s soft and neutral water is ideal for us.”
Building the brewery has highlighted for Chris and Natasha how much is available on their doorstep. “We rely on Upper Hutt-based refrigeration and electrical companies, printing businesses, plastic extrusion manufacturers and building suppliers. Our local paint shop created our very own kereru green,” Chris explains. “The local newspaper, restaurants and clubs have got behind us 100 percent to ensure our beer is well promoted. And we have a really strong team of staff – many of whom live locally and, like us, are grateful for the five to ten commute to work”.
415a Maidstone Terrace Maidstone
Visit the Kereru Brewing website: www.kererubrewing.co.nz
Click on an image below to read local success stories from businesses and how they found success in Upper Hutt.
Last updated on 21 May 2018