The irony is not lost on Simon Nicholas — the day we’ve pencilled in for a chat about Hop Federation’s new home in Motueka is just two days after Deep Creek went into liquidation.

The move to Motueka from nearby Riwaka saw Hop Federation fire up a “new” brew kit — which they bought second-hand off Deep Creek when that brewery upgraded in late 2021.

“We bought it from Deep Creek last year and we had it in storage until we bought this place,” Nicholas says. “We’ve re-wired it and made it more user-friendly. They can’t deny they worked it bloody hard at Deep Creek and they made some cracking beers on it.”

The best part of the new kit, says Nicholas, is that it’s a gas-powered kettle and he’s rapt with the way his brewer Dean Hunter has got it up and running so smoothly.

“We were on electric in the old place and don’t get me wrong, we won quite a few awards on that kit, but this is next level as it’s gas and we’ve found the beers are coming out cleaner and the hops are showing themselves a lot more.  The beers are tasting great.

“Dean has dialled in the brewhouse beautifully. Our lager, which I’ve always enjoyed is next level now, it’s up there with Parrotdog Lager now.”

They’ve added an automatic ABE keg-cleaner and will soon be installing an ABE canning line, but are currently using Southern Canners.

Nicholas and Hunter are also enjoying the fully-enclosed, larger space in Motueka after being in a cramped space in Riwaka.

“Old brewery was so bloody small, and quaint. We were canning pilsner and lager yesterday and it was chucking it down here – in the old place it was always ‘I hope it doesn’t rain today’ as half the packaging was done out the back in the open because the place was so small. So we were rapt to be canning and staying dry.

“And we can brew, can and clean kegs all at the same time which is brilliant because for a good eight or nine years we haven’t been able to do that.”

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The new brewery also means that all Hop Federation production will be done on-site, ending years of contract brewing for their core range beers, most recently at DNA in Blenheim.

“About 80 per cent of our production was at DNA and now it’s all in-house and we have room to chuck in a couple more fermenters when we need to.”

All that capacity means they will be able to do more seasonals, notably their eagerly anticipated fresh hop release Green Limousine.

“Bringing everything back in-house means we can slip in a few more seasonals, and there’s room to grow when we get more sales.

“We’re looking at slipping in another batch of Green Limousine next year because we sell out so quickly, and we’ll look at doing a Motueka fresh hop as well, and then lining up some collabs with some of the American brewers coming over for hop harvest.”

The other big change for Hop Federation is that their taproom has relocated to a new home in Riwaka — at the popular Riwaka Hotel — as well as at Motueka’s fabulous Toad Hall, which is also home to Townshend.

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The new Hop Federation taproom next to the Riwaka Hotel / Photo: Nelson Magazine

“We’ve done a deal with the Riwaka Hotel and Toad Hall, which are owned by same people.

“Our taproom will be next to the Riwaka Hotel. There was a little general store that never opened for some reason. It’s still nice and small and we’ll have our beers on tap for takeaway in riggers and cans.

“We’ve got taps going in at Toad Hall but they will still have Townshend as well.”

The move also marks an end of an era for the spot in Riwaka, which was previously home to Monkey Wizard brewery.

That site is now empty and the Monkey Wizard brewhouse is in storage, awaiting a purchaser on Trade Me.