Wanaka home for bril­lig brew

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By MARY-JO TO­HILL

It started off as home-brew made in a pot and a tea urn in the gar­den shed.

Now its go­ing to be made in a proper brew­ery – Wanaka Beer Works.

Clyde cou­ple Ruenell and Mike Wing, of Jab­ber­wocky Brew­ery, re­cently bought the iconic Wanaka brew­ery, based at the air­port, from the Kiener-De Vylder fam­ily. The Wings took own­er­ship last week.

Wing is awell-known Earn­scle­ugh viti­cul­tur­ist from the Waikato who came snow­board­ing down here 11 years ago, and never went back. His wife is orig­i­nally from Jo­han­nes­burg in South Africa. They met while on their OE in London. Then she came out to New Zealand, and they got mar­ried – and here they are, ful­fill­ing a per­sonal dream with own­er­ship of a craft brew­ery.

‘‘It’s very ex­cit­ing - a mas­sive mort­gage and a baby in one year,’’ the mother of seven-month old Zara laughed.

Along with Jab­ber­wocky business part­ner Scott Beat­tie of Alexan­dra, Wing started ‘‘mess­ing about in the shed’’ seven years ago with a home brew kit.

They’d been per­fect­ing their sig­na­ture pale ale for a few years and prop­erly tested the wa­ter with it at the an­nual Alexan­dra Blos­som Fes­ti­val ‘‘In the Park’’ last year.

‘‘It took us three months to brew it – and it was all gone in one af­ter­noon,’’ he said.

Its suc­cess meant they had to make larger quan­ti­ties, which in­volved tak­ing it to craft beer mak­ers, In­ver­cargill Brew­ery.

How­ever, while Wing said he was grate­ful for the help and ad­vice of brewer Steve Nally, it was time to find Jab­ber­wocky, the name in­spired by the Lewis Car­roll poem, a per­ma­nent home.

‘‘You can’t quite get a sense of mak­ing your own beer if you don’t have your own brew­ery.’’

Wanaka Beer Works came up for sale just at the right time.

The plan is to keep its old-world Euro­pean-tast­ing beers ex­actly the same, with brew­ers Ken Su­per and An­drew Boul­ton con­tin­u­ing to run the Wanaka op­er­a­tion, and to brew the ‘‘new world’’ ki­wistyle Jab­ber­wocky pale and red ales un­der the same roof, while keep­ing the two la­bels sep­a­rate.

‘‘That way we can zip them to­gether, and they’ll com­pli­ment each other.’’

The Wing-Beat­tie part­ner­ship in­tends show­ing their craft beers at ma­jor fes­ti­vals over the spring and sum­mer.

Photo: MARY-JO TO­HILL

New brew­ers: Wanaka Beer Works’ new own­ers Ruenell and Mike Wing of Clyde took over the Wanaka-based op­er­a­tion last week.

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