Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
Eighteen months ago, John Wallace became a Wakatipu
celebrity, winning the controversial men-only Lake Hayes
A&P Show home brew competition.
Little did he know that ''tongue in cheek'' event would
result in him establishing Queenstown Brewers, launching two
beers commercially and preparing to release a third, due out
on November 1, coinciding with the company's first birthday.
Mr Wallace, who has a background in winemaking, said he began
home brewing about six years ago from a shed on his property.
''I've always been interested in beer and a friend of mine
was doing it, so I would go and watch him and help him and
then I started doing my own stuff.
''I just got some really good recipes and some really good
beers going. I make 50 litres at a time. That's quite a lot
of beer and you need a hand drinking that, so I always had an
audience and [tasters].''
He entered his 25oz Pilsner in the 2012 competition and took
home the top prize, spurring an interest in his creation.
The more people who tasted it, the more Mr Wallace thought he
might be on to a winner.
In November last year, he launched Queenstown Brewers' first
commercial brew, Steam Brew, and soon after introduced the
Both were brewed at Wanaka Brew Works, he said.
''I make all the recipes in my shed and work on it there. We
test-drive it and once that's all sorted we take the recipe
and brew it [in Wanaka].
''We use their facilities and try not to tie up too much of
my own capital because ... it's more for fun.''
Each beer had a story associated with it, telling parts of
the history of beer in the Wakatipu.
Steam Brew stemmed from the early days of brewing during the
gold rush, when in the 1870s - particularly in California -
it was ''steam driven''.
''Because they had no refrigeration ... the beer ended up
brewing quite warm, it smooths the beer out.''
The 25oz Pilsner name derived from a gold rush story about
some miners who found 36oz (1.02kg) of gold, the biggest
single nugget weighing in at 25oz.
''They basically drank it away in beer.''
The new release will tell the story of the former Queenstown
brewery established in the 1870s, which stood for 100 years
on the site where the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside hotel is
Mr Wallace said the Tourist Hotel Corporation bought the land
in the 1970s and at the time the historical society tried to
get a protection on the building.
''One morning they came and it was razed ... I think someone
[set fire to] it and then pushed it down.
''That story will be the next release.''
At present, the Queenstown Brewery produce was stocked in
bars, restaurants and supermarkets in the resort and Mr
Wallace was working on getting the beer on tap, and
contemplating expanding his burgeoning empire.
''There's a cunning plan in there somewhere.''
• Queenstown Brewers will celebrate its first birthday at Pog
Mahones on November 1, where its new release will be on offer
for the first time, with both 25oz Pilsner and Steam Brew
available on tap.