Weezledog, one of Auckland’s most loved little breweries is shutting shop after effectively merging with fellow westie brand Black Sands.

Beer for the two brands were produced at the same Kelston brewery by brewer Mark Jackman.

Weezledog, owned by Jackman and his wife Marie, is a co-owner of Black Sands, which is majority-owned by founder Ian Hebblethwaite and his wife Dee.

Jackman and Hebblethwaite have been running the two brands together for around seven years but decided last year that it was proving too costly in terms of workload, packaging, marketing and distribution — so Weezledog is no more.

However, Weezledog fan favourites will continue, with Wolverine Double IPA coming out under a Black Sands label. The Latest Squeeze season releases are a progression on the style Jackman perfected with his much-loved Raspberry Fool. A pineapple version is the next one due out soon. All the beers will remain unfiltered and unpasteurised.

swiftyThere’s a certain irony in Jackman now brewing only Black Sands beers. When he decided to set up his own brewery, the West Aucklander by way of Leeds, landed on the name Black Sands, a reference to the famous black sands beaches of Muriwai, Bethells and Piha. He was surprised to find the name had already been registered, by Hebblethwaite just a couple of months earlier.

Jackman contacted Hebblethwaite and as luck would have it, Black Sands needed a brewer, with Hebblethwaite having just purchased a production brewery in Kelston off Scott’s when that brewery moved to Oamaru.

“Ian wanted someone to brew beer and he had a small flat upstairs going free,” Jackman explained.

The job also allowed Jackman the chance to brew his own Weezledog beer.

“After about a year we decided to put all our eggs in one basket and join together on the financial side of things,” Jackman explained, “but seven years later we’re not getting the cut through we need.

“Weezledog has a small loyal following and Black Sands has a small loyal following, but we just needed to focus our efforts — we can’t go on pretending we’re two different, decent size companies that are going to grow. We’re small.”

Putting the two breweries together means simple things for the small team (Jackman is the only fulltime employee). “It means not having to run two Facebook channels, two Instagram accounts.”

Plus there’s other aspects such as Black Sands moving mostly to cans while Weezledog had stayed steadfastly in bottles, and they don’t have to try sell two brands. And brewing core range beers for both brands meant there was less opportunity for Jackman to do seasonals for either.  “I now get to brew more interesting beers, which was something I missed.”

Jackman is not too sentimental about losing the Weezledog brand. “Ian’s more upset now about giving up Weezledog brand than I am. It took me a while to come around to the idea but it makes sense given how small we are.”

And anyway, he wanted a brewery called Black Sands in the first place.

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