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Pioneering craft beer brew pub placed on the market for sale

Tags: Commercial Napier

One of the New Zealand’s pioneering craft beer brew houses has been placed on the market for sale.

Roosters Brew House on the Omahu Road between Napier and Hastings in Hawke’s Bay was established in 1994, and was among a handful of ground-breaking craft breweries that operated with both on and off premise licences allowing for flagons to be taken home by customers.

It ranked alongside such brewing/drinking institutions as Galbraith’s Alehouse and the Shakespeare Tavern in Auckland, the now defunct Loaded Hogg chain, the Mussel Inn at Onekaka in Golden Bay, and the Dux de Lux in Christchurch.

At the time, Roosters Brew House produced one of the highest alcohol-content beers made by a New Zealand craft brewery – the seven percent Haymaker lager-style, still among the brand’s offerings today.

However, after some 22 years of family ownership under the management of Chris Harrison and his wife Jill, the freehold land, buildings, and Roosters Brew House business are being marketed for sale by Bayleys Napier – with the sale period closing on November 25.

Bayleys Napier salesperson Rollo Vavasour said the industrial-zoned property at 1470 Omahu Road held both an on-premise and off-premise licence – allowing it to operate as a bar/restaurant and serve take away ‘pub pets’.

The 399 square metre building housing Roosters Brew House sits on a 1236 square metre corner location which has on-site parking for 10 vehicles, with additional street parking on its two street frontages.

The internal bar and kitchen area encompasses 86 square metres, with an additional 52 square metres of covered walkway, and a rustic-themed 220 square metre outdoor garden bar area. In total, the premises is licensed to serve 100 patrons, and is permitted to operate until late seven days a week with opportunity to apply for late-licence extensions for private functions and special events such as German-style ‘bier fests’.

Business assets included with the brewery operation include the mash tun, fermenter, hot water cylinder with separate kettle, heat exchanger, pumps, filter, 32 conditioning and storage tanks all in a refrigerated cool room, with more than 100 kegs on rotation.

Meanwhile, the kitchen assets include a commercial-grade oven and hob, refrigeration units, dish washing equipment, and full range of crockery and cutlery.

Mr Vavasour said that while the Roosters operation had brewing capacity to produce 6000 litres of beer weekly, current sales were only tracking at just over half that level.

“With the rise in popularity of New Zealand craft beer over the past decade, supermarkets and liquor retailers are stocking more and more ‘boutique’ beers on their shelves in competition with the three mainstream breweries. There is substantial opportunity for Roosters to launch off its established local reputation into that retail market,” Mr Vavasour said.

“While that may initially be on a regional basis just in Hawke’s Bay, there’s no reason why the Roosters brand can’t emulate the expansion results achieved by the bay’s two other craft breweries -  Zeelandt and Hawkes Bay Independent Brewery.

“Conveniently, there is a contract winery bottling plant immediately across the road which has the ability and capacity to take on bottling for a brewery.”

Roosters currently produces six beers – a dark, a lager, a strong lager, a draught, a wheat beer, and an Indian pale ale. In addition, a different specialty style is produced every three months. The brand also produces a non-alcoholic ginger beer.

Mr Vavasour said there was also considerable potential to raise food sales within the business, which relied heavily on clientele from the surrounding industrial estate during the day and after immediately work, along with passing trade heading home in the early evening.

“Under its current management structure, Roosters’ owners has very much focused on beverage sales due to the brand’s deserved reputation as a craft beer outlet, with food as an adjunct to that. With a different approach to food under the guise of say a modern gastro pub, the percentage of food sales could quite easily be grown,” he said.

“With the right marketing, Roosters could easily become a destination gastro-bar venue for that night trade. The scale of Roosters’ business – still very much at the ‘boutique’ end of the market - would ideally suit a skilled home-brewer ready to take the next step up their beer production ladder.

“This scenario has played out for example at the Good George chain of venues in Hamilton which attracts a loyal following for both its food and craft beer offerings.

“Under that auspices of a shared-skillset ownership model, the Roosters business could be bought by the likes of a partnership - with one party concentrating on the beverage production and distribution of the Roosters beers, and the other focusing on the food and hospitality operations.”

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