Interview with the Brewer: Chris Mills
March 1, 2019
Why did you get into beer?
Would you believe me if I said Kererū Brewing began 8 years ago as a nano-project under our house?! We began by brewing hand-packaged 50L batches for sale at a local farmers market as an outtake from a career in film and television, and our little project just kept growing. Nowadays, Kereru is a 2,000L batch brewery built in a disused factory building producing a range of European inspired beers made with New Zealand grown malt and hops.
Kererū is an odd name for a beer. Where’d that come from?
Kererū is the Maori name for the native wood pigeon, a bird that is essential to the ecosystem since it is the only bird in New Zealand with a beak big enough to eat the large fruits from native trees and to help spread the seeds in the forests. They are acrobatic and impressive flyers who produce a distinctive “whooshing” sound when they fly. They gather in big family groups and are known to get a bit tipsy when they indulge in eating over-ripe fruit. And we wake up to them each day! More importantly, they also hearken to the ethics that drive Kererū Brewing Company.
Tell us a little about those ethics…
Sustainable choices have always been part of our core values at the brewery. We upcycled materials to build our walk-in chillers for keeping our beers fresh, re-tooled a vintage refrigeration plant, and we capture waste heat and use it to heat cold water which has reduced our electricity bill. We re-use boxes, brewery chemicals, and water whenever we can (tank wash is then used for cleaning the floor, etc.) and we try to reduce food-miles by using local ingredients and products wherever we can. We also give our spent grain to a local farmer to feed to his cows & pigs and use biodegradable tasting cups made from corn instead of plastic. Wherever we can, we try to be sensible and less wasteful in our endeavors.
We take the same care with our people. We care about our team members and offer flexible work hours, a living wage, have a steam condenser on our kettle for extra safety for our brewers, and have helped to pay for education to enable our staff to become better qualified at the work they do. We also contribute a portion of our profits towards various nature conservancy projects including Project Kererū, a rehab aviary for injured birds so they can return to the wild.
What’s in store for Kererū Brewing in 2019?
Three years ago, we began a unique barrel-aging project which has produced award-winners so far. We have a few more of those up our sleeves for the coming year. And we’re excited to roll out a brand new Seasonal Beer program in April! Those beers will be seasonally-themed limited production to better allow our brewers to innovate and experiment with new ideas. We can’t wait to start sharing those with Kereru fans!