Interview with Sebastian Burke of Burkes Brewing
What made you decide to follow a life in beer?
I was encouraged by friends after many tasting sessions and some great competition results. As well, I saw an opportunity in that I lived in a small country town with an interest in non-industrial beer and no breweries in the area.
How difficult was it to set up a brewery in NZ?
The process of setting up the brewery itself was fairly simple. Two key items were customs excise licence and a council food certificate. Both the council and customs were very easy to deal with and gave great information and advice. The equipment setup was more challenging and was a balance between size and budget.
Do you still brew beer at home?
My brewery is situated at home as we don’t have direct-to-public sales as yet, but yes, we still brew on a regular occasion for development and further improvement of existing beers.
What is your favorite style of beer after a long hard brew day?
My favourite style varies by time of year and my mood, but at the moment my favourite is a well balanced IPA.
How easy was it to upscale your recipes from home brew to craft brew size?
Upscaling has been relatively easy. This, in part, has been due to great brewing software and equipment that allows for easy repetition and provides great control over temperatures.
What size is your brewery?
One of the smallest fermenters is 50 litres, but we are just undergoing a small upgrade to 75 litres.
What advice would you give to anyone out there pursuing a life in beer?
Brewing is easy, business is tough, and go as big as you can afford and then some.
What's your favourite part of your job?
Other than the brewing, I love the interactions with the great people in the industry and the challenges in running my own business.
Running a brewery is a big ask, with tough competition, but it is a industry full of talented people striving to produce great tasting products that in turn give consumers an excellent experience. This challenge of delivering great experiences is a challenge that we strive to deliver one pint at a time.