Discover the brewery that’s, quite literally, the closest in the world to Paradise.
As they say, do something you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. Similarly, live somewhere you love, and you’ll never want to leave. It was this combination that sparked the idea for Glenorchy Brew Co.
With a love for his land and a passion for brewing stoked by the local brew club, Steve landed on the idea of creating his own brewery as a means of making a living from his beautiful home.
Many a conversation over a beer with a mate in the industry culminated in the offer to create a collaboration brew to test the market.
Out of the first batch of eight kegs at a local pub, three were sold on opening night and the rest disappeared quickly after that. Local and visitor alike recognised good taste and, spurred on by the hearty reception, Steve made some big plans. Investments were made, test batches brewed. And lo, Glenorchy Brew Co was born.
OUR BEER PROCESS
The malt and the mash
We are proud to source all of our malted barley grains from craft maltster Gladfield Malt, who farm not too far away in South Canterbury. Doug and Gabi Michael are a fifth-generation family of barley growers, and their business is 100% family-owned. Since 2004, along with their unique range of malts, they’ve grown an outstanding reputation – one that offers “1000 hours of sunshine in every glass” to our brewing efforts. Gladfield Malt grains are full of healthy starch, making them ideal for transformation into the sugar necessary to provide the energy for growth. The malted barley is milled to crush the grain, expose the starch and, when water is added at the right temperature, produce the vital ‘mash’. It’s a process which takes place over close to an hour. During this phase we use water sourced from an underground aquifer fed by Southern Alps glaciers. This water has an excellent mineral profile for brewing beer, ensuring an exceptional start to the life of our beer.
Hops from NZ
Following the mash process we boil it up and add hops to the sweet liquor known as the ‘wort’, a process that adds complex bitterness to offset the initial sweetness. Depending on when it is added in the process, hops also add essential flavour and aroma to the beer. New Zealand is renowned internationally for the particularly aromatic and fruity nature of our hops. The majority are grown in the Moteuka and Nelson area but, more recently, hop farms have begun ‘cropping up’ down this way. One of our suppliers is Garston Hops – which is just down the other end of the lake. When compared to most other Kiwi breweries the big difference here is that we only use New Zealand hops. While others import from America or Europe we have decided that locally-grown is just as good. With this approach we can source outstanding raw materials without adding unnecessary food miles to our beer. It’s a win-win, for sure.
Fermentation and gratification
The final stage is fermentation. This is where, while the brewer can make a few temperature adjustments and perhaps add some more hops, most of the process involves simply getting out of the way of nature and letting the yeast perform. Happy yeast equals happy beer, and so the focus of the brewer here is to deliver the ideal stage for this performance. After two weeks or so in the fermenter the beer is ready for kegging or canning. While it can be enjoyed immediately, this beer should be stored chilled until consumption is necessary (which, given its delicious and delightful nature, is often sooner rather than later).
Acting in the best interests of our environment is second nature to us here in Glenorchy. It’s just the way we do things here. This ethos is clear in both big and small ways in how we approach the day-to-day work.
At our brewery we keep an eye on our solar array system to ensure most of our energy is consumed during high production times. To further reduce the need for heating, we bulk up the insulation on our fermenters with cosy blankets. We converted the elements in our kettle to electric to prevent the CO2 emissions you get from LPG burners. And, speaking of CO2, we use natural fermentation-derived carbonation as much as we can in our beer making.
Any liquid waste is used for paddock irrigation and mash and malt is quickly repurposed for animal feed or on site compost. Water is collected from the roof for cooling and for cleaning and we even recycle the cooling water again or use it for irrigation.
Our efforts don’t stop at the edge of the property. Shipping is minimised by ordering large volumes and storing on site. We use South Island suppliers too – only NZ hops and malt for us. When it comes to packaging, we use recyclable cans and cardboard. There is absolutely minimal plastic and we’re almost entirely paperless, with all brew records kept electronically.
Of course, there’s plenty more – stuff like biodegradable cleaning products and reduced distribution trips. Most importantly, we won’t be stopping our efforts to improve and increase our sustainable impact anytime soon. Our aim is for our beer to leave behind nothing more than a tingle in the mouth and the good memories to match.
Working with this sustainable mindset should go without saying for the modern Kiwi brewery. After all, we craft an all-natural product that brings joy to people. We want this product and these people to be around for a very long time. This is why we champion the responsible stewardship of the land and, in every way that matters, are unashamedly good natured.
Have us over for a visit
We love a yarn and an opportunity to share our beer with others. Drop us a line if you would like us to attend your licensed event. We can tell your guests all about our story and our brewing methods while offering taste testing and discussions on different beer styles.
Where to find us
While GBC beer is brewed in Glenorchy we do not have a tap room. Our beer is handcrafted with love and delivered fresh into the hands (and mouths) of Glenorchy and Queenstown locals through the following exemplary establishments.