Some sad news in the New Zealand home brewing world broke yesterday - Liberty Brewing will be shutting up shop. While Joseph Wood will continue to make his great and ever-expanding line of beers, the home brew supply arm will cease to exist.
It isn't quite the closure of a business, but it is still not nice to hear. Especially when a company so young has such a rich history. Liberty Brewing was founded in 2006 by Stu McKinlay and Brendon Mackenzie - of Yeastie Boys and Revolution Brewing fame respectively - as a way to get quality home brew ingredients cheaper. They just happened to pass on the savings to everyone else. But the two of them got too busy and offered the business to Jo.
Since taking over Liberty, Jo has opened his own professional brewery, won multiple awards for his beers and become one of those things people like to call ''shining lights''. And his beers are brilliant - from the hop-bomb Yakima Monster to the deliciously boozy and ridiculously named MMMMoMMftCHv3 (Mikes Manically Mad Mixture of Malted Meal featuring the C Hops version 3) barleywine.
But the best part of Jo isn't his beers - or his chilli-eating videos - but his attitude. He has that typical Kiwi way of doing his own thing, but always being happy to help those who need it. I have been one of those people on many an occasion; I've hounded him for interviews when a journalism student, asked for advice on brewing ingredients and probably tried to pester him for free beer.
And I owe him a heck of a lot. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't have bitten the bullet and sunk a decent whack of cash into my home brewery. It was scary at the time, but it's been well worth it. I'm very useless at any kind of wood or metalwork and the brewery really is amazing.
I had a Liberty beer last night. It just felt like the right thing to do. It also seemed the best way to say thanks to Jo - and, of course, his wife and business partner Christina - for the hard work they've put into Liberty over the years. It's a shame they couldn't flog off the home brew part of the business to someone else, as I'm sure it would have been snapped up quickly.
So, Liberty Brewing is dead. But long live Liberty Brewing.
- Manawatu Standard