Brewery’s future uncertain

Staying optimistic . . . Catlins Brewery co-owner Norm MacLeod says his business will be indefinitely closed from January next year. PHOTO: EVELYN THORN

A Kaka Point microbrewery is on its way to indefinite closure — and an uncertain future.

Catlins Brewery owners Norm MacLeod and Peter McNab are brewing their last beers until further notice, and closing up shop in January next year, due to hard hits from Covid-19 and rising costs impacting the bottom line.

Mr MacLeod said the next step would be to find a new area for a bigger brewery, but at the moment costs were too high and it had become harder for them to continue running the business as it stood.

‘‘It’s definitely disappointing, that’s for sure. It’s a hobby-turned-career and I’ve loved every moment of it, but until we find a way to invest and take the next step for the brewery, we can’t do much else,’’ he said.

‘‘It was going to be around $500,000 in April 2020 when we were planning to upgrade, then Covid-19 and everything else happened.

‘‘Now, it’s looking to be closer to $1,000,000 to invest and upgrade, which we both know is unviable at present.’’ The brewery had been bubbling along nicely in2019 but Covid lockdowns had knocked a lot of confidence out of it, Mr McNab said.

‘‘It’s almost something we’re putting in the too-hard basket for now, but we still have great intentions for the business.

‘‘To be commercial we need that next size jump, and it’s just become so much harder to get there.

‘‘We get great feedback on the beer and we have great customers but, from a business perspective, it’s a matter of knowing what can get you to the next step — and we can’t get there at the moment.’’

The pair still have stock available and are going to be attending further festivals during coming months, including the Dunedin Beer Festival, which Mr MacLeod labelled as their ‘‘farewell tour’’ for the business.

He hopes to get the business back to bottling one day.

For now the pair will reflect on the business’s effervescent journey, which began in 2014.

‘‘When I began the business back then, I was hoping for three or four years of basement brewery, and then have a building completely dedicated to brewing — but it’s been a few more years than that and we’re still here in the basement,’’ Mr MacLeod said.

‘‘Until the stock we have at the moment runs out we’ll still be on the go, and after that we’ll see what the future holds.’’