Hop 'n' Vine organisers brewing up their own beers

Hop 'n' Vine organisers Chris Montgomery and Kevin Dowie announce a contract brewing deal that will see Hop'n'Vine ...
John Hawkins/Stuff

Hop 'n' Vine organisers Chris Montgomery and Kevin Dowie announce a contract brewing deal that will see Hop'n'Vine produce their own beers under their United Brewing Company brand with the help of Catlins Brewery.

Beer fanatics Chris Montgomery and Kevin  Downie have taken their love affair with craft beer to the next level and started a brewing company.

Downie and Montgomery, who were the organisers behind Invercargill's first beer festival Hop 'n' Vine, have now created the United Brewing Company to create their own unique beer for Southland.

Downie said the brewing company was an extension of what they have done with the beer festival in that they were trying to provide an opportunity for people to try new beers.

When Downie first moved to Invercargill there was very little craft beer on offer at bars, restaurants and bottle stores, he said.

People were becoming more interested in craft beer as was shown by the number of places in Southland that were now stocking more craft beer,  Downie said.

The pair knew that the world did not need another small brewing company but they felt the Invercargill market was not getting the best beers that were available, he said.

"So we're going to get them made ourselves."

The pair have enlisted the help of Norm MacLeod, from the Catlins Brewery, to contract brew their new beers.

MacLeod had an excellent brewery set up at Kaka Point and was experimenting with a lot of different beers,  Downie said.

"His market is growing year on year as well."

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MacLeod had never made any of the the types of beer the pair were planning on making, Downie said.

The company would focus on producing smaller batches of experimental beer that would see demand outstripping supply, he said.

The beers they would be brewing had not been sold in the market in Southland before, he said.

What they were brewing was under wraps but their first batches had already been presold to bars in Queenstown, and Invercargill.

The plan was to showcase the brewing company at the Hop 'n' Vine festival next year, Downie said.

The Kelvin Hotel had been supportive of the new brewers and would stock the beer once it was made, he said.

"Because we love craft beer so much it doesn't feel like when we're doing this, it's a lot of fun."

 - Stuff


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