Nestled away in small-town Glenorchy, on the literal road to Paradise, is Glenorchy Brew Co — a one-man operation that just picked up four bronze awards at the latest NZ Beer Awards. Sustainability is at the forefront of what they do, and man at the helm, Steve Hewland, is in this purely for the love of beer.

As per their website, they don’t aim to be the coolest, hippest brewery in New Zealand — they leave that to the big-city wunderkinds. They’re just here to make good beer. The proof’s in the pudding as they were awarded bronze for their core line up — Glacier IPA, Paradise Pilsner, Mountain Ale and Dark Sky Stout — and just missed out on silver for three of them.

“The thing that was most important to me was to get validation from someone else about my beer quality,” says Hewland. “Your friends and customers will tell you that your beer’s good, but that’s completely different from professional judges reviewing your beer. The opportunity for feedback is the other thing — you get good feedback from it. This is the third year that I’ve entered, and I hadn’t won any awards before, but the feedback I got from them helped me to get to where I am now. I was able to learn from the honest detailed feedback and understand where I was going wrong, and make improvements to the brewing process.”

Steve comes from an engineering background and first started brewing as a response to New Zealand’s blossoming craft beer scene. He got the taste for some of those early-comers to the game including Emerson’s and Epic.

“A friend of mine started homebrewing and I tried some of his beer and it was just fantastic. I thought, well if he can do it, I can do it, and save some money because craft beer wasn’t so cheap. That didn’t end up coming to fruition because I ended up spending more money on brewing gear — I kept buying the next shiny stainless steel thing.

“I’m an engineer, so I’m process-driven, and it just became something that I really enjoyed. I just kept on wanting to make better beer, really. That’s what continues to drive me —wanting to improve and learning about all the different facets of brewing and how they all work together — it’s complicated in a lot of ways and simple in a lot of ways. It’s that challenge to continually improve that keeps me going. I don’t think that will ever stop because there’s so much you can dig into, and so many areas you can become an expert in. It’s just going to be a lifetime of learning.”

Steve Hewland outside the Glenorchy Brewery
Steve Hewland of Glenorchy Brew Co

The brewery isn’t open to the public, but we snagged a special tour of the picturesque spot, surrounded by breath-taking mountains and the Rees River. On their property, Steve and wife Kath share their life with their dog Duke, several sheep, a clutch of chickens, many bees, and the brewery, which has grown significantly over the past year. The new brew shed, which was built over Christmas, features solar panels, a fabulous fridge that has been converted to a tap-system, and lots of upcycled materials.

“We collect all the stormwater off the roof here into a big buried tank under the ground, which I use for all of the cleaning and cooling water. I can recycle cooling water back into that system as well, so in the summer when we’re not getting as much rainwater I reuse that as well. We’ve got the solar panels, which aren’t enough to run the kettle on brew day, but look after all the refrigeration. All the mash that we use gets fed to the sheep or the chickens, and it goes in the garden. Blanket Bay are looking to make some bread from the spent mash, and they currently make a jus out of my beers.

“In the summer, the wastewater gets used to irrigate the paddocks — there’s a lot of nutrients in the yeast and compost value in the spent hops. I deliver the beer by electric vehicle now, too. I have one of the least-food-mile beers that you can buy locally — I don’t use any American hops in my beers, I use malt grown in Gladfield as that’s the closest to me and the hops all come from the South Island.”

To top it all off, one of the most unique things about Glenorchy Brew Co is the water used to brew. It’s taken straight from a natural aquifer consisting of glacial melt from the surrounding mountains, something Steve says gives his beer a unique and clean taste — not to mention it’s absurdly cool. When making his pilsner, he doesn’t need to add any salts as the water is perfect, unfiltered, straight out of the bore with a good mineral content that adds to the beer.


Many of Glenorchy Brew Co’s beers are available around the Queenstown region, but you can grab some online at