Award-winning Bay of Plenty craft brewery, Mount Brewing Co, is celebrating two decades since the business first began by undertaking a large-scale renovation of its Mount Maunganui premises and the grand opening of The Rising Tide – Brewhouse and Eatery this month.
Mount Brewing Co brewery owners, Glenn and Virginia Meikle, started their family brewing operation from an industrial premise in 1996 when their daughter was just six weeks old. Nearing their daughter’s 21st birthday, the Mount Brewing Co brewery and bar is being given a much-anticipated facelift and expansion, which Glenn says comes at a critical time.
“Our operation reached maximum operational capacity in the last 12 months and due to high demand during the peak summer season we have struggled to maintain production of all our beer varieties, both locally and around the country. With a complete overhaul of our iconic Newton Street brewery and the opening of The Rising Tide – Brewhouse and Eatery (formerly Brewers Bar), we will be able to meet the high demand for our beer from both customers and suppliers around the country,” says Glenn.
While the brewery has impressively been able to increase production by up to 100 per cent in the past, the renovation provides more space for a new bottling machine and new fermentation tanks so that production can continue to rise.
The renovation will also create a whole new sensory experience at the premises, with the Mount Brewing Co brewery and The Rising Tide – Brewhouse and Eatery becoming one large eating, drinking and working space where customers can interact with the brewers working on their latest creations while taking in the aromas of the fermentation process.
“Instead of the bar and brewery working as two separate enterprises, we are bringing the core of our business centre stage and the bar, while reducing in size will operate as our cellar door to really strengthen and showcase the foundation of our business. There will be 27 taps dedicated to craft beers and local wines – a mix of our breweries own as well as showcasing other local artisan wines, beers and ciders on high rotation.
“Committed craft beer drinkers want variety and they want to try freshly made beer on tap – it’s the way the brewer wanted it too so we’re really excited to be increasing our cellar door offering. It provides a unique opportunity for our brewers to experiment with new and innovative styles and directly let the customers try and give feedback,” explains Glenn.
Since its inception of the brewery, the desire to grow and foster the artisan beer experience within the Bay of Plenty has been top of mind for Glenn and he says without the support of locals wanting a truly unique locally crafted beer, the expansion would never have been possible.
“We’ve certainly experienced some highs and lows with our brewery over the last two decades, with the recession and changes to the liquor and driving laws as well as some personal challenges. However, we have been fortunate there has been impressive growth in the craft beer industry in recent years and fantastic support from our local Bay of Plenty craft beer community.”
In another step to keep it local, The Rising Tide – Brewhouse and Eatery will feature popular local street-food vendors, Johney’s Dumpling House in the kitchen. They will be offering their famous homemade dumplings and pork buns, as well as creating a specialised fusion menu to match many of Mount Brewing Co’s beers. This summer the bar will be launching a new ‘tasting platter’ with six dishes matched to six of their most popular craft beers, following demand for a whole dining experience.
“Customers palates have really changed and they are asking for more robust flavours in craft beer paired with full flavoured food. Following international trends, we have seen the demand for mainstream products have dropped and a 15 per cent rise in our craft beer sales in the last year. Tauranga is still young in terms of being a craft brewery town, but the gaining interest is encouraging. Our new-look premises will provide our customers with the complete food and drink experience to take us into the future.”
The expansion of the brewery footprint and the purchase of additional fermentation equipment increasing production capacity mean the brewery can now brew larger batches and bottle sizes to meet the varied New Zealand market demand. “Our new bottling machine can adjust to several different sized bottles, making production more efficient and providing additional options for our customers in terms of consumption. Many of our suppliers traditionally can’t or won’t stock our flagons, but now bars, supermarkets and off premise customers will be able to stock our six packs of bottles as well as the popular individual 500ml bottles in the future. We’re knocking on the door of a whole new local hospitality market too with the ability to offer local restaurants these options.”