Interview with Gary Henwood at Kainui Brew Co.

When did you decide to brew beer alongside the wine?

Originally our vineyard was planted as a bit of a hobby but my father-in-law ended up planting too many vines, so it needed to be turned into a viable business. The plan was to host events and sell a lot of wine at full retail, all at once. The beer making just piggy backed off of that as I was already an avid homebrewer.

What size is your brewery, and what is special about your equipment?

We have a four barrel brewery that was built by Chris Banks from Banks Brewing Hardware. The guy is a magician. It is unique in that we have two mash tuns and two kettles and run simultaneous batches. This gives us the flexibility to brew anywhere from 200L - 1600L in a brew day.

How did you find the transition from home brewing to craft brewing?

The transition for me was long and arduous. It took me two years worth of planning and acquisition before I felt like I had transitioned to being a pro brewer. There are so many moving parts in our business now that is really hard to get things going in all directions and become a viable business.

Describe a typical brew day.

Get into the brewery around 5.30am, get organised and try to get the first mash on by 6.30am. Rob (our newly appointed assistant brewer) arrives at 7am and continues grinding the grain for the next batch. We usually do three batches in a day so there is quite a bit to keep track of. The second mash starts when the first finishes and the third when the first is near the end of the boil. I always have the fermenters and hoses sanitised the day before and have yeast ready to go. It's just a matter of keeping your mind on the job and not getting behind because if one thing goes wrong it can quickly snowball when you have three batches on the go. We'll usually be done and cleaned up by 5pm. Then I just wait till the tanks reach pitching temperature before adding the yeast.

What would you say are your best and worst parts of the job?

Best part is working from home. I also love the engineering and science involved in brewing and refining processes to produce beer that I can be proud of. Worst part would have to be bottling and distribution.

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

Something not too challenging. A light lager is always a good fit but my go-to beer for that purpose at the moment is our 3.8% Wiremu Wallace Scottish ale.

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

These days there are plenty of opportunities to get involved, so get amongst it!

Where can people get your beers, and If travelling up north can people come and visit the brewery?

It's still a bit of a challenge to find our beers right now but we aim to have our online shop working by the end of February. Wider distribution is also a goal of ours in 2018. If you're up here, the best bet is to come by our tasting room at the vineyard which is open 7 days, 11am-6pm, or visit us at the Kerikeri Packhouse market on a Saturday. The brewery itself is at my house so I don't usually encourage visitors, although it could be arranged.

Find out more about Kainui Brew Co. on their website: kainuibrew.co.nz

Kainui Brew Co