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Time Called At Zeelandt Brewery

 Twelve months after Cyclone Gabrielle destroyed their home and businesses, Christopher and Luciana Barber have called ‘time’ on their craft brewery and restaurant.

The past year has been very, very difficult, says Christopher Barber.

“We lost everything in the cyclone and have tried so many ways to keep our beer business and restaurant going. We’re grateful for the support of the craft brewing community, but in the end trying to find suitable new premises and the cost of setting up again was just too big a mountain to climb, at the same time as trying to find a new place of our own to call home.

“We have made the incredibly tough decision to close the businesses, after an exhausting 12 months. We’re sad of course, as Zeelandt and Cone & Flower were the realisation of a dream, but we’re on a different path now,” says Christopher.

The Barbers started Zeelandt in 2012, brewing European beer with a strong influence from German styles, with a core range of four beers: Four Stroke – Pacific Pale Ale, Jerry Rig – Helles, Good Thief – Pilsner, and Black Monk – Schwarzbier. Barber, who was also head brewer, complemented the core range with seasonal releases that filled the 14 taps at Cone & Flower, the restaurant and garden bar they opened in 2021.

Right from the start, Zeelandt has been a family business, says Christopher.

“It was always a goal to run my own business. My inspiration came from my great great grandfather who established a brewery, and my grandparents who ran their own small business in the Blue Mountains (NSW).

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“My brother Philip’s wines were sold in our restaurant, my other two brothers supported from a distance with decision making and strategy, and Luciana left Wattie’s to look after marketing for Zeelandt and Cone & Flower, as well as lending her food technology background to manage inventory, food safety and labelling.”

After the cyclone, the Barbers were inundated with offers of help. Overwhelmed, they worked quickly with the help of suppliers, to make a beer to raise funds for their local affected community. Brewed at Craft Brewery in Auckland, Back On The Horse, IPA raised $15k. With the help of friends, Zeelandt held a fundraising evening at Bay View Hotel and put another $5k towards locals who sustained a heavy loss.

With the decision made, Zeelandt is now looking to sell through all remaining stock:

· Four Stroke: 330mL / 440mL can and keg

· Jerry Rig: 330mL / 440mL can and keg

· Good Thief: 330mL / 440mL can and keg

· Guv’nor – Extra Pale Ale: 440mL can and keg

· Revelry – Oktoberfest: 440mL can and keg

· Brunhilde’s Fate – Rauchbier: 440mL can and keg

· Black Monk – Schwarzbier: keg

Trade customers can purchase via the usual channels - The Bottle O Onekawa. Invisible Agency, and Zeelandt Brewery. Retail customers can purchase via the website where branded beer glasses – recovered from the flood – are also available.

Luciana Barber says the announcement is a positive step for her family.

“We have really tried to make it work. We are so grateful to everyone that has supported us; friends and strangers, as well as our suppliers and the brewing community, including the Brewers Guild, and everyone that has worked with us over the years,” she says.

Luciana has returned to a part time role at Wattie’s, and Christopher is exploring a career in conservation. Their kids (Oliver-8, Sofia-6) have remained in Eskdale School, and a new home is being built on the hills of Eskdale overlooking the valley that they love.

Christopher says: “While we are getting back on the horse, we are just riding off in a different direction than before.”

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