Thursday, 12 December 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Soft opening for the Pour House in Hahei

Soft opening for the Pour House in Hahei

A new chapter has started for Coromandel Brewing Company with the opening of their new brewery and bar in Hahei, called the Pour House, last week Thursday. "It really was just a soft opening," said Karen Vowles, who owns the business with her husband, Neil. "Many of the Hahei community turned up and everyone had a really good time.

"We’ll ease into things and will initially be open to the public from 4pm on Thursdays and Fridays and from 12 noon on Saturdays and Sundays."

Neil, Karen and their two sons came to New Zealand from the United Kingdom five and a half years ago. They settled in Matarangi. "It was a major change for us," Karen said. "Neil had a business outside Liverpool employing 45 people and I had an academic position. We used to holiday in New Zealand fairly often and spent quite a few Christmas days at Cathedral Cove.

"One day in Matarangi Neil got this idea to brew his own beer. Not long after that our garage was converted into a brewery. Anyone can brew beer, but to brew beer well, you need to be part scientist and part artist. The scientist ensures the quality is always consistent, the artist ensures the taste is perfect. I knew Neil was going to make a success."

And a success Coromandel Brewing Company most certainly is, with beer lovers throughout the Coromandel happy to pay a premium for a true craft beer.

But why Hahei? That’s a question Neil was happy to answer. "We were looking for a real tourist destination to set up a brewery. It just so happens that the old Grange Road Café site in Hahei became available and we jumped at the opportunity," he said. "The water quality is the same as in Matarangi, so our beer is still the same."

And is the brewery bigger than the one in Matarangi? "I love my brewing equipment, so I brought it with me from our garage in Matarangi, but we have installed two extra conditioning tanks. That means, with eight days in a week, I will be able to brew twice as much as I did in Matarangi."

Asking Neil more about conditioning tanks, he explained that it is cold storage tanks where beer is kept for a week or so to allow the yeast that was added in the brewing process to do its job. "It’s where the ‘lagering’ actually takes place," he said.

And what’s with the bar area? "That’s to keep me happy," said Karen. "I like people and I like to sell beer. I wanted a place where people can gather, have something to eat with a beer or a cup of coffee and enjoy themselves."

A fairly unique concept of, shall we say, Karen’s bar is that the kitchen is leased out. In this instance to Becks Brown and Andy Driscoll who used to operate a wood-fired pizza out catering business. "We’re going to keep the food simple, pizzas, flatbreads, toasted paninis, chips, things like that,"
said Becks. "We’ll adjust the menu as we go along, but we really want people to come here and experience good, honest food without any pretence."

And what did some of the Hahei locals who were at the opening of the brewery had to say?

Gilbert Bannan from the Mercury Bay Art Escape said Neil and Karen are great hosts. They always had time for a chat while the building work was going on and he has no doubt that the brewery will become the locals’ local. "And the beer is great too," he added.

Brian Pilkington from Cathedral Cove Macadamias was more concise. "I had a call to the bar earlier today," he said. "And as lawyers cannot resist their own call to the bar, I couldn’t resist this one either." And looking at the mischievous expression on his face, we have little doubt that there are going to be many more calls to the bar, none of which will be resisted.

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