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New Zealand’s craft beer maker sets foot in Australia

stuWith a new partnership and plans for further expansion you could say that exciting times are ahead for New Zealand craft beer manufacturer Yeastie Boys.

They have partnered with the owners of ExperienceIt Beverages and Nomad Brewing for distribution and are set to launch from mid-January 2017.

“We have formed a joint venture with the owners of Nomad Brewing and ExperienceIt. This means we will brew our beer at Nomad (as well as importing some beer from NZ and/or UK operations) and then distribute via ExperienceIt,” Stu McKinlay, founder and creative director, told Inside FMCG on their company’s plans in Australia.

Inside FMCG had a chat with McKinlay about how Yeastie Boys began, the new distribution deal and how they plan to compete with Aussie’s own local craft beers.

Inside FMCG: How did Yeastie Boys began in New Zealand?

Stu McKinlay: My parents were from Edinburgh and my dad was always looking for better beer (very hard to find in New Zealand back in the 80’s and 90’s). There was a little bit of a blossoming micro brewing scene — as they called it then — in the early 90’s and I got taken along by that a bit. We had a couple of decent microbreweries near us and we would occasionally eat there or bring home flagons (our version of growlers). I tinkered with my dad in a little home brewing and then again in my late teens and early twenties, but it was really in my late twenties that things got obsessive.

Yeastie Boys [was] launched in September 2008 with Pot Kettle Black as a one-off seasonal beer. We brewed it at a friend’s brewery in July and at that point, decided we’d brew one-off seasonals only. We did this for the first year before relenting to public pressure and re-brewing Pot kettle Black the next year. It won Champion Stouts/Porters at the NZ Beer Awards and the rest, as they always say, is history.

Inside FMCG: Why did you choose to partner with Experienceit Beverages?

We’ve been friends with Johnny [Latta] and Kerrie [Latta] for many years, and worked with them at events and on collaborations. There was a part of me that always knew we’d work together in some way but we didn’t force the issue, we just waited for the opportunity to come up.

We’ve [learned] a lot about how we work in different markets, during our move to UK last year, and we’ve certainly come to the conclusion that brewing in market is the best option if we can ensure quality of the product.

As well as owning ExperienceIt Beverages, Johnny and Kerrie have Nomad Brewing in Manly, so we’re able to brew and distribute through a couple of companies that are already intrinsically linked. They’re great people, making and distributing excellent beer, with care and passion. What more could we want?

Inside FMCG: Apart from selling beers online, do you have plans to target supermarkets?

We’re interested in selling beer to any good retailers who respect our product and price points. We sell to supermarkets in NZ and UK, without having to put ourselves into difficult positions, so if we can achieve the same position in Australia we will certainly take up any opportunities. What we won’t do is try to sell ten times the volume at a tenth of the margin! We’re in this to make a profit, not for vanity volume.

Inside FMCG: How will Yeastie Boys compete with already known beers from Australia?

We have an existing customer base that we should be able to expand on considerably with people on the ground, fresher beer and a much better price point. As always we’ll focus on beers that are just left of centre, so still aiming to be in a rather niche part of the market. We’re certainly not trying to blow Coopers out of the water.

Inside FMCG: What can Aussies expect from the new beer you’ll release next year?

It’s a sessionable pale ale of 4.4 per cent with a big load of Nelson Sauvin and Motueka hops. It’s very pale and the most approachable beer we’ve released onto the Australian market. What’s more… it’s not available in New Zealand, only UK and Australia, so for once our friends in Australia can feel like they’re ahead of New Zealand!

Inside FMCG: Apart from the UK and Australia, where else do you see Yeastie Boys expanding?

As well as brewing in UK and Australia, we also export to Hong Kong, Singapore, China and, occasionally — a few other countries from our NZ base. We’ve also grown NZ domestic sales around 50 per cent in the last six months. At this stage, I would say we’ve bitten off about as much as we can chew, and we have — so we have no plans to expand majorly outside these areas.

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