The Occasional Brewer on Adelaide Road by the Basin Reserve in Wellington is a brew-your-own brewery, where you can go in and brew, ferment and bottle 40 litres of craft beer at a time. You can try all the available beers options at the bar and take them away in riggers, so you can also try before you brew.
The OB started out in 2014 as the place to go for people with no brewing experience wanting to brew their own craft beer. There are staff on hand to teach the customer-brewers all they need to know and guide them through the process. This obviously appealed to Wellingtonians as it outgrew its original premises on Victoria Street in 2016 and relocated to the current site.
The focus is on artisan brewing from grain on a brew system that has been refined to deliver quality bottle-conditioned craft beer. There are 16 brew stations and you can have up to three people brewing on each station. The initial process of getting a wort ready to ferment takes about three and a half hours, with another session for bottling and a carbonation 2-3 weeks later.
The price of brews start at $159 for standard beer (eg Blonde ale) and go up to $249 for a Hazy IPA (so $4-$6 per litre). Brewers don’t have to pay any excise on the condition that it’s brewed exclusively for personal use and not for sale.
I asked general manager Harry O’Neill what the most popular brews were and he cited their new release Hazy IPA; a (Supercharger clone) APA; and the NZIPA. Who would have thought?
O’Neill said like most licensed premises Covid was definitely a struggle for the bar side of the business, but the brewing has side has come back after dropping off, and there is now a steady stream of brewers. They offered a fresh hop brewing experience in March and you can also do a gin experience where you chose the botanicals and walk away with a 500ml of your own bottle of Mother’s Ruin.
There are food trucks on Thursday and Friday nights and they’ve just moved into canning their beers so customers can have can conditioned beer.
DIY craft brewing definitely has a fan base in Wellington and the Occasional Brewer has been successfully meeting their needs.