There’s something brewing in the Cardrona Valley. Or at least there will be as soon as the shiny new fermenters get beer in them and Canyon Brewing officially starts making beer inside Robrosa Station.
The station is a proper working farm, nestled in the valley, deep in the Southern Alps. The station owners are a New Zealand farming family and have been on the land for more than 100 years. In January last year, they went ahead and did what so many dream of doing: they bought a brewery, acquiring the brewery that overlooks the Shotover River.
Canyon Brewing is now adding a second brew house to its operation, ready to service the local area, including the Cardrona skifield and the Wānaka area. And they are also experimenting with growing their own grain as a part of a push to become carbon neutral by this time next year.
“We’ve been putting a lot of thought into what impact we want to have as a company and a business. We want to hopefully be carbon-neutral in the next 12 months,” Canyon’s marketing and brand manager Mikaela Merrilees says.
The brewery is shifting all its fleet to electric vehicles and putting more emphasis on locally-grown and locally-sourced ingredients. In fact, they have been growing fields of barley in Jacks Point in Queenstown and are hoping to release the first fully Central Otago beer, a lager, using their own barley from Jacks Point and hops sourced from nearby Garston.
Canyon did the maths and figured out that if they malted their own barley it would account for 33 to 39 per cent of the brewery’s total emissions. One of the many advantages of being owned by a farming family is that brewery director James Paterson is also a lifelong farmer and an expert in growing grain. Last November, Canyon planted its first fields of barley in Jacks Point and, with that, it estimates it will cut its carbon footprint by 7 to 14 per cent.
With sustainability in mind, the brewery is always looking at ways to close the loops in its processes. For example, the surplus of spent grain at the end of the brewing process is used to create the pizza bases at Canyon Restaurant, while the rest gets taken to the farms to feed the livestock.
Canyon also works closely with local farmers and Central Otago suppliers to use by-products that would otherwise go to waste.
The new brewing facility at Robrosa Station in Cardona will also help them ramp up production just in time for their big push into Foodstuffs in the North Island.
“We just want to be as New Zealand-focused as possible. We grow so much amazing produce here, we really want to showcase it. If we can support NZ businesses, that’s where we want to go,” Merrilees explains.