Taranaki craft beer institution, Mike's Brewery, fights back from liquidation

Owner Ron Trigg and head brewer Jesse Sigurdsson share a beer as Mike's Brewery takes back over from liquidators who ...
SIMON O'CONNOR/FAITFAX NZ

Owner Ron Trigg and head brewer Jesse Sigurdsson share a beer as Mike's Brewery takes back over from liquidators who were brought in, in June.

Taranaki's craft beer pioneers have avoided having to shut their their doors after going into liquidation earlier this year. 

In June, White Cliffs Organic Brewery Ltd, which operates Mike's Organic Brewery just north of Urenui, went into voluntary liquidation - however thanks to some out-of-the-box accounting owner Ron Trigg fought back from the brink and this week took the reins back.

They weren't entirely in the clear yet, Trigg said, they still needed to get back their control customs licence - which allowed them to brew on site, but he remained an eternal optimist. 

"The big unknown is we've got to prove to New Zealand Customs the operation's being run differently to as it was in the past."

READ MORE: 
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How Mike's beer started as a university experiment
Mike's expansion to focus on its wholesale business

The decision to go into liquidation had been a long time coming and was largely due to a customs and excise debt accrued four to five years ago that the company could not pay, Trigg said.

When the additional duty on the debt became one and half times the amount of the original debt, he knew they had to do the responsible thing and call in liquidators to help them get in control of the situation, Trigg said. 

"In our case it's a different game now than it was - people look at craft brewing now and say 'it's booming', but 10 years ago it wasn't like that. We couldn't sell our beer in the provinces we sold all of our beer in Wellington."

The residual strain of that slow start is what compounded their issues, but in the last four years they had went from being in the red, to turning a profit, Trigg said.

Since their announcement in June however, he had run into a bit of trouble convincing people they were still open, Trigg said.

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When people hear the word liquidation, they lump it in with receivership and bankruptcy but that doesn't have to be the case, he said.

The brewery was now gearing up for its 10th Oktoberfest on the 29th of this month and they had filled every vessel and tank they could to make sure they could cover the time between the liquidator's brewing licence running out and being able to get a new licence themselves, he said.

His plan now was to focus on making Mike's a destination brewery, rather than trying to stretch themselves too thin.

"The plan has always been to be a viable, valuable member of the community."

 - Stuff

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