As 2011 approaches, it is a perfect time to reflect on the highs and lows of 2010. Overall, it has been a really good year for us. We have made some huge decisions on the direction of our business, our beers have had some great kudos, and we have been able to grow strongly against a backdrop of recession and increased competition.
- We are still talking to each other!
- That might not sound like such a big deal, but crikey, we (Paul and Nigel) have been working together for like 6 years. The seven-year-itch is just around the corner! Watch this space - next year things could be a very different kettle of fish.
- It has been a great year on the awards front. Firstly Croucher Pilsner won Gold and Trophy for Champion International Lager at BrewNZ 2010... unfortunately we weren't even there to accept the awards (you can read our absentia acceptance speech here).
- Secondly, Croucher Pale Ale was named Champion Beer in the Capital Times Beer necessities Survey 2010. Our Pilsner, as well as the Pale Ale, were named in the countries Top 12 Beers.
- This blog was named in the world's 50 Best Beer Blogs
- One of the most satisfying achievements this year has been the addition of regular seasonal beers to our line-up. The year kicked off with the Vicar's Vice and Cherry Bock, followed by Vicar's II, Patriot (American Black Ale), October Ale, and the most recent Mrs Claus' Famous Christmas Cake Ale. Patriot is up again next, just in time for the summer festivals. We have a few ideas lined up for 2011, so will let you know as they unravel. Making these beers is pure fun and excitement, a chance for us to experiment and learn more.
- After a long period of struggling to keep up with production, we made the decision to investigate contract brewing some of our bottled beers in a facility geared up for larger volumes. Our search led us straight toSteam Brewing in Auckland, they are responsible for handling the brewing of some of this countries better craft beers. It has been a HUGE change for us and our business - but we are very pleased with the beers coming out of Steam, sales are going well, and we hope we are well placed for continued growth in 2011.
- A couple of months ago we were invited by Galbraith's Alehouse (the iconic Auckland BrewPub) to have a permanent tap of Croucher beer in their bar. Keith and Ian have long been friends and mentors, so this is a great honour for us.
- Early this year Hamiltonian's got their own craft beer pub - House On Hood. On the recommendation of Greig McGill (renowned Hamiltonian Raconteur), House contacted us about supplying beer to them. Well it has been a great relationship. We LOVE what they are doing there (please check it out next time you are in Hamilton), and they seem to love our beer too.
- Exporting - Croucher beer is now available in Australia. We started working with a distributor a few months back, and are now sending regular shipments into and then around Australia. What a cool addition to our business - streuth, we think its grouse that our cobbers over the ditch are keen to head down to the bottle-o to grab a Croucher coldie.
- Rotorua hosted the 'Kiwibikes Single Speed World Championships' as few months ago. One of the local bike shops, Bike Vegas, put a team in dressed as cans of Croucher Pilsner. It was a scorching hot day and these guys suffered! The highlight was Dave checking whether the cans would float or sink - check out this AWESOME video (be patient - wait for the 3rd can to come through).
Alas, you can't have it all you own way, and there have been a few road blocks, disappointments, and drama's. Some details, however, are best kept in-house.
- The Underground Got Buried
- At the beginning of the year we were running our own tiny craft beer pub (The Underground Bar) in Rotorua, having opened the doors in May 2009. But by the end of January it had closed down - the restaurant whose liquor licence and kitchen we utilised had decided to go out of business. It was a shame in many ways, as it had been a great way of introducing Rotorua people to craft beer, but the flip side was that we were able to put more effort back in to the brewery.
- For some reason Paul found and then dragged me along to a restaurant in Otahuhu with a D Grade food certificate. They have to display the rating, and alongside it was a sign saying no credit cards. When Paul went to pay by credit card, they allerted him to the signs on the wall - you would think a restaurant with a D food rating on display would be doing everything in its power to NOT alert your attention to signs on the wall!
Nigel & Paul