Liberty Brewing are diversifying at speed, today launching their gin range under the banner Liberty Distilling.

And last month they opened an American-style burger joint next to their taproom in Helensville.

There’s a sad backstory to the burger joint — previously it was a fish and chip shop but the woman who owned that died earlier this year after suffering a white tail spider bite and then a blood infection. The fish ‘n’ chip shop had been great for the taproom as it allowed punters to get some food with their beer. So, when it became available, Liberty knew they needed to do something with it.

Liberty founder Joe Wood said the opportunity to sell burgers was too good to turn down and he’s been behind the grill himself perfecting his smash burgers. The burgers are made with local beef fattened up on spent grain from the Liberty Brewing operation.

“It was never an option for us to do fish ’n’ chips. When you think of going to a brewpub in the States, which our brand leans heavily towards, you’re thinking pizza, tacos or burgers. I love In & Out Burger — everyone does — and there’s nothing like that in New Zealand and no-one in Helensville is making American-style burgers.”

The buns are baked across the street at the Real Bread Project and the meat comes courtesy of local butcher River Valley Meats.

Liberty diversify

“We haven’t even done any marketing and it’s insanely busy — I’ve lost 6 kilos cooking burgers seven days a week,” Wood said.

“We just wanted to supply food to customers in the taproom, but the fact these burgers are available has brought in new customers we’ve never had before so beer sales are up.

“It’s a team effort, we’ve even got the kids, Poppy and Jackson, working in there too.”

The burger shop hopes to have an online menu available soon.

The gin business is something Wood has wanted to do for a while, having bought a still a few years ago. It’s run as a separate business from the brewing arm, with one of the Liberty’s employees, Sam Shepherd, taking a one-third stake in the operation.

Liberty diversify

“Sam wanted to get involved and provided the motivation for getting it off the ground.”

With a number of craft breweries under pressure, was the diversification necessary for the 2019 Champion Brewery?

“I don’t know if it’s what you need to do. But with a risk of things becoming stagnant or boring, this keeps things interesting. We’ve been making beer for 14 years now and it can get a little bit mundane, and we want to keep things interesting for ourselves.

“We’re not approaching it from a business point of view, it’s about us, our brand and the area we are in.”

In other news, Liberty have released their famous Prohibition Porter in 440ml cans.

Liberty diversify