Brewing business ready to leave home

HANK SCHOUTEN
Last updated 05:00 01/02/2013
Natasha Dahlberg and Chris Mills
CRAIG SIMCOX/Fairfax NZ
CRAFTING A LIVING: Natasha Dahlberg and Chris Mills named their range of specialty beers Kereru after the ‘‘friendly, luscious birds’’ that fly from nearby pines.

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The founders of one of Wellington's tiniest breweries are all set to launch themselves from the rumpus room under their Silverstream home into the flourishing world of commercial craft brewing.

After months of testing their range of brews, Chris Mills and his wife, Natasha Dahlberg, began commercial production of their Kereru range of specialty beers 14 months ago.

Mr Mills, whose mother first taught him to brew root beer when he was 5, said brewing appealed to his love of art, science and cooking.

The brand was inspired by the fat wood pigeons that fly from nearby pines. ‘They're just such friendly, luscious birds."

The Kereru range now includes a Silverstream pale ale, velvet boot strong Belgian ale, kumara brown ale, an award-winning moonless stout and non-alcoholic birch beer.

But total output from the three small stainless steel tanks has been limited to just 100 litres a week - enough to supply a few select outlets and make some cellar-door sales - in what they described as "a controlled descent through our savings".

With support from neighbours, who have served as taste testers, and various outlets that have stocked their product, they were encouraged to step up the operation.

They now plan to move into part of the former Vitafoam factory in Upper Hutt and import upsized brewing equipment from California. From July they are looking to brew 1800 litres a week.

It is a big shift from the rumpus room behind their garage as well as a big change in direction for the couple, who bought their Lizard Lounge Graphics visual effects business with them when they migrated from Boston, in the United States, 10 years ago.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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