McDuffs calls ‘last drinks’

Dunedin’s loss is Central Otago’s gain. McDuffs Brewery owners Graham Jenkins (left) and Gavin...
Dunedin’s loss is Central Otago’s gain. McDuffs Brewery owners Graham Jenkins (left) and Gavin Duff have sold the 25-year-old company and are headed for retirement. Photo: Gerard O'Brien.
"Last drinks" have been called by Dunedin craft beer outlet McDuffs Brewery — the first in the city with a micro-brewery in retail premises — as the owners wind up the company after 25 years.

Graham Jenkins (70) and Gavin Duff (69) have had the Great King St business "quietly" on the market for two years, and an unnamed Central Otago brewer has bought all the manufacturing equipment, for an undisclosed price.

The pair have already begun dismantling the brewery. Aside from fermenters it has  about 20 large stainless steel tanks and associated equipment, all of which has a total capacity to make about about 35,000 litres of beer.

Many of the tanks come with a  pedigree. Some were originally made by Terry McCashin, who in Nelson was at the forefront of the then fledgling New Zealand craft beer market, and were first installed in a micro-brewery at the Hororata Hotel before ending up in Christchurch.

In 1992, Mr Duff bought the micro-brewery and established a  brew bar in the Octagon, operating as Bogarts.

"We were ahead of our time, being the first genuine brew bar in Dunedin," Mr Duff said.

However, with the number of licensed premises in the Octagon exploding, the pair decided in 1997 to concentrate on brewing and moved the company to Great King St. They  have been running down beer stocks and expect to make their last retail sales today.

The operation was originally  known as Duffs Brewery, but media giant Twentieth Century Fox, makers of the cartoon series The Simpsons, objected to the name several years ago, because character Homer drank Duff-branded beer.

A year of negotiations ensued before the parties reached an agreement  and the company was renamed McDuffs Brewery.

"For several years, every American tourist that came in asked "are you that Duff  brewery?" ...  the story was quite big in the States," Mr Jenkins said.

Surprisingly, being in the north end of Dunedin, students were not their biggest customers, and the brewery supplied branded liquor outlets, pubs, cafes and members of the public filling their riggers. However, it is  students the pair remember most fondly, noting there had never been any trouble and they still enjoyed meeting former students who stopped in to visit and recollect their university days.

Mr Jenkins, a carpenter by trade, and Mr Duff, a former mechanic, have no  retirement plans other than catching up on jobs around their  houses.

Mr Duff said while a brewing consultant initially helped get the brewery started, they had since moved to "trial and error" to create recipes.

He said the pair had nine McDuff beer types, plus  alcohol infused lemonade and ginger beer, but had not decided what to do with the McDuff’s brand, or their recipes.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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