The Little Big Brewery

June 30th, 2013

A few nights ago I made a comment on Twitter about photographing a brewery in a tight space. This led to an amusing “mine’s smaller than yours” contest amongst some brewers before soon reverting back to the usual order of “mine’s bigger than yours”. There is a brewery that can lay claim to winning both of these contests in Wellington: the commercial brewery with the biggest brewhouse also has the smallest brewing capacity, at least for another week or two: Kereru Brewing in Upper Hutt.

Until recently Chris Mills has been brewing 100L batches at his home in Silverstream but after struggling to cope with demand, Chris and his wife Natasha decided to invest in a new 1800L brew kit. This meant finding a commercial space that would be suitable to house a brewery. The building they found in Upper Hutt, an old Feltex linoleum factory, is certainly big enough for future expansion, probably for all of Wellington’s breweries.

I had been keen to photograph Kereru in their new home since seeing a photo that Chris posted to Facebook, of his small brew kit in the middle of a very large space. I thought the contrasting scale would make for some good photos. Stupidly, I forgot to take many of those photos. Here’s one that kind of gives you a sense of scale.

Chris calculates how many fermenters it would take to fill the brewhouse. Answer? A lot! Kereru Brewing, Upper Hutt, 2013.

The small brew kit has been busy as Chris readies all the beer he needs leading up Beervana. With beer in the tanks he will be able to give his full attention to setting up the new brewery kit when it arrives around the 7th of July. The day I was there Chris was brewing a beer for the SOBA Mid-Winter Ale Festival, a toasted coconut porter called “For Great Justice”. He had also made a delicious pea and ham soup for lunch that fed hungry photographers and contractors. (Thanks for that and the recipe, Chris).

More photos from brew day are below. There are even more in this gallery.

Small brewery, large space. Kereru Brewing, Upper Hutt, 2013.


Chris Mills mills the grain for a brew. Kereru Brewing, Upper Hutt, 2013.


Weighing hops to add to the kettle. Kereru Brewing, Upper Hutt, 2013.


Measuring the gravity of the wort. Kereru Brewing, Upper Hutt, 2013.


Small fermenter, large space. Ancient forklift. Kereru Brewing, Upper Hutt, 2013.

I think I need to work harder on finding new angles. These two photos were taken almost two hours apart and are a little too similar.


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