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2011 New Zealand Champion Brewery

8 Wired Brewing is inspired by the legendary Kiwi can-do mentality and fellow craft brewers who have dared to challenge the masses and show us all that beer is no longer “just beer”!

Our story began on Christmas Day, 2005. That was when my future wife, Monique, gave me the classic Coopers homebrew kit. We were living in Perth at the time and I brewed my first “lagers” in the blistering Western Australian summer, without any kind of cooling or knowledge. Needless to say the beers were awful, but I was hooked none the less.

A couple of years later we had moved to New Zealand and I started dabbling more into specialty grains and hops. Before long I was brewing all grain beers and the hobby was talking a stronghold on my life. Somehow Monique and I persuaded ourselves to take the leap to professional brewing and we devised a plan to start a brew pub, preferably at a quiet beach community somewhere I the North Island. To gain some commercial experience I got a job at Renaissance Brewing in Blenheim. The plan was to stay there for 3 months, but we quickly realized that we lacked the capital or experience to start our own brewery. Instead I continued to work for Renaissance and after a year they generously let us rent their equipment and tanks when they were available. Thus 8 Wired Brewing came to life as a contract brewery. We brewed our first beer in October 2009and things went fast from there. In 2011 we received the highest brewing honour awarded in New Zealand as we were crowned Champion Brewery at the Brewers Guild Awards. The past 3 years we have also been featured on the prestigious Ratebeer.com list of “100 best brewers in the World”, as the only Southern Hemisphere brewery.

In 2011 we started running short of capacity at Renaissance and commenced brewing at Auckland’s Steam Brewing Company, under the watchful eye of the talented Shane Morley. We now brew roughly half of our beer there. The second half is still brewed in Blenheim, where our first employee, Jason Bathgate, is working hard to perfect the beers that I have developed over the years.

In Blenheim we also have what I believe is the largest collection of barrel aged beers in the southern Hemisphere. Currently we have about 200 barrels full of beer. The vast majority of the barrels are from wineries in Marlborough and they are almost all funky and sour (on purpose!). It takes a long time to make beers like these but they are slowly starting to hit the market. Watch this space.

Early 2014 we took on our second employee, Brian Watts. Brian’s home address is in Georgia, USA. His official job title is “International Man of Beer” as the idea is that he will be travelling the world and servicing our widespread export market. We currently export to 5 continents, so he should get busy enough.

As for Monique and myself, we are now living in Warkworth, North of Auckland where we are finally working on setting up our own physical brewery. This should be up and running by the end of the year and we are all very excited. The move up North was mainly fuelled by family reasons. We now have two pre-schoolers and without any family in Blenheim and the amount of beaches and playgrounds in this area, the decision wasn’t hard.

Cheers!

Søren Eriksen