One of New Zealand’s most loved and respected breweries, Derelict in North Canterbury, has shut up shop. But as owner-brewer Sam Cottier is quick to point out, while it’s a shock for some, it’s not a sad day.

Sam and his wife Natalie made the decision to shut the brewery a few months ago and after they announced the decision on social media, their website was inundated and all the beer sold out.

“We’re not sad. We’re leaving on a high. I’d rather leave now and have good memories of it.

“It fitted well with our lifestyle when we started. I was a stay-at-home dad and I needed to do something at home, but it grew and grew …

“There’s going to be a few shocked people out there, but it’s time to move and do something new. I’ve been brewing for 12 or 13 years, and Derelict’s been going for six years.

“We’re not getting any younger and we were spending too much time on it. We put a hell a lot of time into it.

“I think I exhausted myself a wee bit and had a bit of burnout last year. I was doing everything myself and there was no money to pay anyone to help.”

Both Sam and Natalie were working other jobs as well as running Derelict and Sam felt they’d lost a lot of their free time, especially the time spent with their two children.


While Derelict’s farewell post on social media referenced price of lactose — “when lactose prices soar to the moon …” — Sam said money wasn’t the main point.

“Prices are soaring and they’re not stopping, but that wasn’t the driving factor. We put a hell a lot of time into this and in the end some of the passion had gone and we thought ‘why are we doing this when the passion has gone?

“We’ve got two kids who were missing out because of the time we were putting into the brewery. And we’ve also got other jobs so it was literally two jobs and a business between Nat and myself.”

Sam was emphatic that he wanted Derelict to be remembered as a fun brand, and he felt he was going out on a high.

Their beers were always geared towards that: luxurious pastry stouts, hugely hoppy IPAs, decadent dessert sours. What they all had in common was an intensity of flavour that not many breweries could match.

As a result, for five of Derelict’s six-year existence they were the No 1-ranked New Zealand brewery on Untappd, something that Sam had fun with during the Covid pandemic. At that time they didn’t package any beer, it was all keg sales to local bars.

“When Covid hit, bars and hospitality all closed. Because we were solely a keg business it just stopped us in our tracks and we were thinking: `so now what?’

“The first thing we did was take a wee break – as we hadn’t had a Christmas break the year before. We gathered our thoughts and decided to start bottling beer.”

It was then he decided it was time to push the boat out – to do something that went against the grain of his rural North Canterbury humility.

“We thought: ‘how can we push these harder – we don’t want to be just another bottle on the shelf’. We figured we had to stop being so damn humble and use that Untappd rating.”

The back of each Derelict bottle carried the simple statement: ‘Currently ranked #1 NZ brewery on Untappd, we focus on providing quality, full flavoured and boundary pushing beers’.

Photo / Dusty

“Once that started getting out, people started talking about it and we started selling more bottles.”

They maintained that No 1 ranking until earlier this year when Dunedin’s Cell Division jumped to No 1.

Sam says he briefly thought about trying to sell the brand but decided it was not something anyone else could take over because it was intrinsically his and Nat’s.

“Derelict was our passion project. I talked to a few people about [selling] but people said, ‘No, it was all about you …’ so it’s pretty hard to sell something like that.”

He is selling off parts of his 600-litre brew kit on Trademe.

For those who want one last hit of Derelict beers, the best option in the New Zealand Stout Challenge on this Saturday at Moon Under Water and Punky Brewster in Christchurch.

After taking a break, Sam says he’ll look at few other ideas he has “floating around”.

“I raised the idea of buying a derelict house and doing it up,” he says with a laugh, “but Nat probably wants me to finish the work on this house.

“I’ve always thought about restoring an old car, and now I’ve got room for it.”

And at the end of our chat he re-emphasised the fact that this is not a sad story, nor a commentary on the industry.

“It’s all positive. We’re certain we’ve made the right call for us. In the end we had more fun than not.”