Wellington craft brewer Tuatara says its sale to beer giant DB Breweries is no sell-out video

DB Breweries managing director Andy Routley, left, and Tuatara founder and master brewer Carl Vasta at Tuatara's brewery ...
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DB Breweries managing director Andy Routley, left, and Tuatara founder and master brewer Carl Vasta at Tuatara's brewery in Paraparaumu.

The "magic" that is Tuatara will not be changing, DB Breweries boss says.

Managing director Andy Routley says the company will not "mess with a winning formula" and it will be business as usual.

His comments come after the beer giant announced it had bought Wellington craft brewer Tuatara.

Tuatara head brewer Carl Vasta.
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Tuatara head brewer Carl Vasta.

"This is not a business that we've acquired to change the magic," Routley said.

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"The magic is what has created and made Tuatara so special today. We are utterly opposed to breaking that magic recipe.

"There are no plans to shift or change that formula - whether that's a beer recipe or whether its the recipe of distribution and connection with consumers that made it so successful."

Tuatara, which employs about 50 people, would continue to produce its beer from its Kapiti Coast brewery and the pilot brewery - The Third Eye, in Wellington.

Tuatara founder and master brewer Carl Vasta​ said he remained committed to being part of Tuatara and its future.

Last year, Tuatara produced more than 2 million litres of beer.
SUPPLIED

Last year, Tuatara produced more than 2 million litres of beer.

"We're changing the shareholding, we're not changing the recipe...

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"In order to take things to the next level we need assistance. That's why we've teamed up with DB. Now, I intend to get back to the brewing and step out of the business end."

DB Breweries managing director Andy Routley said DB planned to invest in the brand and make it stronger.

Their aim was to reach more consumers "than its ever reached before" - in New Zealand and globally, he said.

Tuatara had spent the past two years focusing on innovation and increasing brewing capacity in order to break into international markets.

Tuatara beer is currently exported to Australia, Scandinavia and the UK.

Routley said it was too early to say where new markets would be for the brand.

Neither Routley or Vasta would say how much the sale was worth, citing commercial sensitivity.

Vasta said: "I don't see it as a sell-out. While we have had a shareholder change, the Tuatara team is still intact and will remain intact for as long as it is possible. I'm still very happy."

Deloitte Private partner Ian Fay said a lot of craft brewers had been growing fast, however, maintaining that growth was a "costly exercise".

"They've grown very quickly, but that growth requires the ability to reach customers on an ever increasing scale which has a big cost to it.

The larger company provided greater sales distribution while the craft brewery retained the quality and reputation for the beer it made, Fay said.

"It's all about the quality of beer you make, not about who owns it and how big you are."

Teaming up with a larger firm was just one way to get more capital to expand a small business, he said.

"But they won't necessarily all do that. There might be some who would like to remain independent, but for some its absolutely the right way to go."

The beer market was moving away from volume to quality, Fry said.

"From a small business perspective, the craft tag is about quality and care and what you put into the product you are making.

"The process you go through to make the beer doesn't have to change because you've got a different owner."

Tuatara, established in 2000 and based in Paraparaumu, has gone from a backyard operation, to one of the largest craft breweries in New Zealand.

In 2016, it produced more than 2 million litres of beer.

Just hours after Tuatara's announcement, Garage Project announced it was building a new brewery in Hawke's Bay.

This is the second Wellington craft brewer in the past year to sell to an international beer giant.

In May last year, Panhead Custom Ales sold to Lion Group for an undisclosed sum.

 - Stuff

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