A hoppy ca­reer

The Leader (Tasman) - - NEWS -

Nel­son’s Sprig and Fern brewer Tracy Ban­ner has cel­e­brated her 30th an­niver­sary as a fe­male brewer in an in­dus­try still largely dom­i­nated by men. Tracy landed her first job as a lab­o­ra­tory tech­ni­cian in 1983 with brew­ing gi­ants Greenall’s in north­ern Eng­land.

She is now the head brewer and co-owner of the Sprig & Fern Brew­ery and a na­tion­wide chain of tav­erns. She runs the Mil­ton Street Sprig & Fern with her hus­band Ken.

The Sprig & Fern has six bars around the Nel­son re­gion. It opened a bar in Auck­land this year and re­cently opened in Pe­tone, its sec­ond bar in the Wellington re­gion.

The Ban­ners im­mi­grated to New Zealand in 1994 and Tracy be­came the head brewer at Nel­son’s Mac’s Brew­ery, and then moved up to run the brew­ery’s op­er­a­tions.

‘‘I’m very proud that in the mid to late ‘90s I was one of a num­ber of brewers who were in­stru­men­tal in bring­ing craft beer to New Zealand,’’ she says.

‘‘We re­ally changed the face of brew­ing, and the way peo­ple think about beer in this coun­try.’’

Fol­low­ing her role at Mac’s Tracy moved to Dunedin where she was the first woman to take on the dual role of brew­ery man­ager and head brewer for Speight’s Brew­ery.

‘‘Be­ing at the helm of such an iconic brew­ery and in South­ern Man ter­ri­tory was ini­tially daunt­ing but I had con­fi­dence in my ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge of the in­dus­try.’’

Af­ter two years in Dunedin the Nel­son life­style beck­oned again, and in 2007 Tracy moved back to Nel­son to be­come co-owner and head brewer at the Sprig & Fern Brew­ery in Rich­mond.

Af­ter 30 years Tracy says she still gets a re­ac­tion to be­ing a fe­male brewer: ‘‘ Men don’t strug­gle with it any more – they find it in­ter­est­ing and they want to talk about beer.’’


Beer ex­po­sure: Tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter Aaron Corotta with Spring & Fern’s Tracy Ban­ner and Dave Bar­rett at the Beach Rd brew­ery.

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