Interview with Craftwork Brewery

We had a chat with Michael O'Brien and Lee-Ann Scotti from Craftwork Brewery in Oamaru. Here are some Q&A insights into the great beers they're making.

What made you decide on a life in beer?

Not sure we decided on starting a brewery as a plan. We started home-brewing, then made a dedicated brewery under my house, so then thought “Let’s see what it would take to go commercial?”

How difficult was it to set up a brewery in NZ?

Not too difficult, as it is tiny and part of my residence. The council were keen for us to do it, and Customs were very encouraging and helpful (more tax for the government).

What is your favourite style of beer after a long hard brew day?

For me (Lee-Ann) a Gueuze is my ‘go-to’ beer, however we usually drink whatever style we are brewing or bottling that day. Michael’s favourite beer to drink on a work day is Grisette. Mostly, he says, because I have drunk all of the Gueuze.

What is the size and type of equipment in your brewery?

Our brewery is ridiculously small in my stone basement (Michael has his own house to live in). We brew on two 50 litre Braumeisters, so we brew concurrently. Michael prefers them running together, I prefer some lag time of at least 20 minutes. Most operations are ’hands on’, manual, and we utilise gravity.

What advice would you give to anyone out there pursuing a life in beer?

This life is all-consuming (we love that about it!), but the people in your life may not understand that. If you are going to stay small, then avoid supermarkets. They expect a lot of paper-work, time and compliance. For example, breweries only need to be audited (Food Safety Plan) every 2 years, however Foodstuffs expect it every year.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

Most things. I like doing a variety of tasks, and it is great being involved in every aspect of our business. Sometimes I would like to be taller and physically stronger.

What are the future plans for Craftwork?

We will be trialling larger batches in our friends’ brewery, in Wanaka. Jess and Simon from Rhyme and Reason, gave us the opportunity to purchase our own fermenter, so we can brew in our slow way, without (hopefully) compromising our beer. We also want to increase our barrel stock, here in Oamaru. I’m keen to eventually manage 100 barrels. We are also in our third winter of ‘coolship’ brewing, and so expect to see some ‘Methode Gueuze’ coming out next year.

Find out more about Craft Work Brewery on their website: www.craftworkbrewery.co.nz

Michael O'Brien and Lee-Ann Scotti