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August 1, 2011 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Beer Will Be Beer – Christchurch Brewing Dynasty is 20 Years Young

Harrington’s Brewery of Christchurch is an institution that has now been providing quality beer to the locals for 20 years.

The family business, with three generations of the Harrington family involved in the brewing, celebrated the milestone recently with a few quiet drinks after the normal business of brewing, bottling and selling beer. A family portrait is proudly on display at the Ferry Road brewery site to commemorate the early steps towards a New Zealand brewing dynasty. The Harrington’s brewery was started by John Harrington in 1991 in an old Gilmore Street pub—now the home of Pomeroy’s Ale House. John had retired from being a publican for many years, but by all accounts had grown a little restless with the ‘easy life’ and decided to start a brewery to produce the classic kiwi styles: Lager, Dark and Draught. Sons Carl and Craig returned home from Australia to help Dad out. As Carl enthusiastically puts it, “[Craig and I] had to be involved with a brewery!” Demand for the beer soon saw the brewery relocate to the Ferry Road location, close to the now ghost-like AMI Stadium.

Touring the Ferry Road brewery with Carl, I was reminded of what so many have lost. Rubble, filled sections and boarded up businesses neighbour the brewery, indicating the loss to the community.

Harrington’s was relatively lucky in the succession of quakes. Production at the Ferrymead Brewery was halted for a number of days due to power supply issues resulting in 30,000 litres of beer being dumped. The Hills Road bottle store has been closed due to sustained damage from repeated aftershocks. The Harrington’s business model has always been a little different to other breweries. Harrington’s has two breweries, eight bottle stores and a restaurant-bar dotted around Christchurch with over 70 people involved in running the various businesses. The day I visited there was a steady flow of patrons coming to the Ferry Road brewery to fill up their flagons. With over 25 Harrington’s beers produced there is plenty of choice on the taps. Over 70 per cent of Harrington’s sales are via their own bottle stores and restaurants.

Thankfully, some Harrington’s beers make it into Wellington supermarkets and bars. Not wanting to rest on their laurels the team are set to launch a number of new ‘Brewers specialty’ beers in the coming months. I was lucky enough to taste a pilot batch of ‘Anvil’—a late-hopped Pale Ale with pronounced floral and stone fruit flavours from the hops. Keep an eye out for this beer!

With the multi-national Lion moving production away from Christchurch following the quakes, Harrington’s is the largest brewery in the city and looking to grow. This proudly loyal and local brewery is reflecting the spirit of a city—to endure and move with the times. The first 20 years was just the beginning.

Beers to try:
While the Harringtons’ beers have always had a firm grounding in the traditional kiwi styles of New Zealand Draught and New Zealand Lager, the range is huge and will accommodate most tastes.

Here are a few worth seeking out:
Clydesdale Stout: Easily accessible Stout with roast, chocolate and light caramel malt flavours.
Razor Back: A malt-focused session beer with a light hoppy nose. A nice balance of caramel and toffee malt flavours with a moderate balancing bitterness.
The Rogue Hop: An example of New Zealand Pilsner, this hoppy pilsner has a ‘raw’, grassy and floral hop aroma with a slight malty sweetness in the finish.


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  1. Stu as "Stu" says:

    Don’t forget the Pig and Whistle – twice champion “British Ale” at BrewNZ and the only beer I am aware of that has been “teabagged” by the brewer.

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