Christchurch brewery Two Thumb has reversed a recent trend in craft beer circles by buying a brewery off New Zealand giant Lion.
Two Thumb has just signed the lease on 380 Colombo Street, Sydenham, the site of the former Fermentist Brewery and Taproom, which Lion opened in 2018 with much fanfare as a carbon neutral operation.
Lion closed The Fermentist in September last year, citing the downturn in revenue as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It will become the second venue for Two Thumb in addition to their existing brew bar (which features a tiny brewery) on Manchester Street.
In taking over the lease of the building from Lion, Two Thumb have also completed the purchase of the state-of-the-art brewery equipment installed at the premises. The brewery is largely solar powered and features cutting edge eco-friendly technology.
Two thumb co-owner Mark Limber admits it was something of a gamble.
“We’ve always cut our own path and been bold enough to not follow the crowd and do what’s right for us. When everyone is facing one way looking for the next big thing, it’s sometimes useful to take a look in a different direction and see what opportunities might be being missed. This incredible facility was sitting there unused, and we are delighted that we managed to convince Lion to sell it to us.”
In buying a brewery off Lion, the deal is something of a reversal on the usual paradigm of big brewery swallows small, with Lion having purchased Mac’s, Emerson’s and Panhead in the past 30 years.
The new brewery will allow Two Thumb to increase their own production capability as well as providing a local contract brew facility for other small breweries.
“The craft beer family in Christchurch is a pretty close knit one. We have more brewery labels per head than anywhere else in New Zealand. If we can help support other local brewers with production, then we’re keen to do it. Craft beer is a growing market and consumer choice is good for all of us,” Limber added.
The Manchester Street site will continue to operate as a bar and function venue, with one-off and small batch recipes continuing to be brewed there. “That’s the old iconic Dux de Lux brewery kit. Its Christchurch heritage, we are not getting rid of that in a hurry. Besides, it still makes damn good beer,” Limber said.
The new venue in Sydenham is scheduled to open in late April.