Zeelandt Brewery in Hawke’s Bay are not only trying to rebuild their business following the devastating effects of Cyclone Gabrielle but they’re also taking time to raise money for the emergency workers who helped victims of the flooding in February.

Owner-brewer Chris Barber says Zeelandt are moving to contract brewing after floods and silt destroyed the brewery, including all stock and equipment.

“We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we rebuild, and what the future looks like.  We love what we do and are committed to our business and our customers.

“Over the short term we are contract brewing in Auckland so we can continue getting Zeelandt beer to customers, with the first batches of beer being available towards the end of April.

“We are also launching a new fundraising beer, called Back on the Horse, to benefit local first responders and our local community trust.

Zeelandt fund-raising beer

“Despite the Eskdale community suffering large losses, Zeelandt is in a position to help. With the generosity of our suppliers we are launching a new beer with all proceeds (after excise tax and freight) going to local organisations involved in the emergency response,” Barber said.

Back on the Horse is a New Zealand IPA inspired by a small wooden horse that remained standing on Chris and Luciana Barber’s property after floodwaters receded. Chris’s father Les built the wooden horse in the vege garden for his two grandchildren to play on. While the force of the floodwaters took away the sheds and cars that surrounded it, the horse remained. To Chris, this was a sign that the only way for the community to move on from this event was to get back on the horse.

Zeelandt fund-raising beer
Chris and Luciana Barber

Available in 440mL can and 30L keg, Back On The Horse can be purchased directly from the brewery A dozen 440ml cans cost $108 plus freight. You can also buy single cans in stores where Zeelandt is usually stocked (RRP $9.99) — and for trade customers through the normal channels: The Bottle-O Onekawa, Invisible Agency, and Zeelandt.

All funds raised from the sale of the beer will go towards Bay View Volunteer Fire Brigade, Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter, and Bay View Community Charitable Trust.

Zeelandt thanks its suppliers for their support:

·        Tried & True – Label design

·        Craft Brewing Co – Brewing

·        Gladfield Malt – Barley

·        NZ Hops – Hops and yeast

·        Crafty Canners – Packaging

·        Label & Litho – Label printing

·        Beer Fridge – Cold storage

·        Invisible Agency – Distribution and sales

·        Keg Star – Keg supply

“We are so incredibly grateful for the love and support shown by Kiwis during the aftermath of the cyclone, and to our suppliers for getting behind this fundraising beer,” Barber says.  “We hope that Hawke’s Bay people will support Back on the Horse and enjoy drinking it, so we can donate as much money as possible.”

Barber and his brother, winemaker Philip, were the faces of the Esk Valley flooding in Hawke’s Bay when Stuff captured them on video after they found each other alive after the flood.

Zeelandt fund-raising beer

Barber, his wife Luciana, children Oliver and Sofia, and dog Barley were rescued in dramatic fashion from the roof of their house after Chris had to bash his way through the ceiling with one of Oliver’s toys to escape the rising water. They spent the night in the ceiling cavity and were rescued the next morning by three men in a boat.

The Barbers’ house, their brewery, their taproom Cone & Flower, and Philip Barber’s Petane Winery were all destroyed in the flood. Getting beer back on the market is one thing, getting his life back on track is another, with Barber saying the brewery will have to start from scratch, with nothing salvageable from either the brew site or the taproom.

“The structure is still there but there’s a huge amount silt all through it. Cone & Flower, if it was to be reinstated, would have to be gutted and I don’t think there’s a lot of appetite for building there again, and the council will probably make a decision on whether anyone can build there again.

“In terms of the beer nothing can be salvaged, it’s all buried and it won’t be coming out.

“From the brewing side of things, it’s a bit more straight forward — we will do some contract brewing — but ultimately, we’d like to set a taproom again, somewhere in Napier — not Esk Valley.

“I don’t think anyone affected by the flooding wants to come back to Esk Valley. It’s the second flood we’ve had in five years. In 2018 we had a one in 100-year flood and now we’ve had a one in I-don’t-know-how-many-years flood.”