A major contributor to the economy
If you were asked what Hawke’s Bay Brewery contributes to the Bay, it’s more than likely you’d say a range of outstanding beers.
While you’d be right, of course, you’d be overlooking another major contribution the brewery makes, and that is the millions of dollars it injects into the local economy each year.
It’s difficult to calculate exactly how much the brewery contributes by way of wages and salaries, maintenance of fleet vehicles and purchases from local businesses – including anything from natural gas to electricity to beer-packaging material.
However, it’s likely to be considerably more than $10 million.
“It’s fair to say we are an integral part of the Hawke’s Bay economy,” says brewery manager Brent Wright.
But the brewery’s impact is even wider. It spends around $8 million annually on ingredients sourced from outside Hawke’s Bay, and pay outs a further $24 million in alcohol duty to Customs plus road-user charges of around $24,000 per year.
They’re big figures indeed. To help put them in some sort of perspective, the brewery pays $6 of alcohol duty on a keg of beer – and then there’s GST on top of that.
What is even more impressive are the production figures. This year the brewery plans to brew 350,000 hectolitres (35 million litres) of beer – enough to fill several Olympic-sized swimming pools.
When you relate the figures to production per employee, it’s likely that 350,000 litres of beer will be brewed for each employee at the brewery this year.
Exactly 100 staff work on the Ellison Road site – 67 in the plant, 17 in distribution, 10 in sales, five in finance and a training/development officer.
“The sheer level of output from the Hawke’s Bay Brewery is one of the things that is most surprising to our visitors,” says Brent Wright.
“Thanks to a high level of mechanisation, technology and efficient systems, we are able to produce a startling amount of beer in a year.”
A very “open” brewery impresses its visitors
A brewery is traditionally a place steeped in mystique where the timeless art of brewing is practised away from the public’s eye.
At the Hawke’s Bay Brewery, however, little, apart from the jealously guarded secrets behind each brew, is kept from the enquiring public.
This is because the brewery has a policy of opening it’s doors to the outside world at virtually any opportunity.
Most of the visitors take part in one of the guided tours held every Wednesday morning. During these tours they get to see every step of the brewing process, from the arrival of the raw barley and hops to the packaging and loading of the finished product.
Brewery manager Brent Wright says it’s a lot to assimilate for those who have never seen a brewery before, but visitors are almost always impressed by what they see.
“When you drink beer you seldom think about the many steps the beer has gone through to arrive in your hand,” Mr Wright says.
“In this respect, a trip through the brewery places a whole new dimension on beer for many people.”
Perhaps the most striking thing for a first-time visitor is the rich, seductive smell of maturing beer. Another surprise for many is the relatively small number of people required to make such large quantities of beer.
While the weekly tours are the most common means for “outsiders” to view the inner sanctum of the brewery, the front doors are often opened wide for schoolchildren and for fund-raising activities.
Many Hawke’s Bay people will remember visiting the brewery as part of vocational training at secondary school.
“We regularly have secondary school kids at the brewery, some for one day, some for two days and some even longer,” Mr Wright says.
One reason schoolchildren come to the brewery is because its staff work in a wide range of different disciplines
“In many ways the brewery is like a microcosm of the world outside ”Mr Wright says.
The public will have another chance to see the brewery on Sunday December 12 when it’s doors will be opened as part of fund-raising for Hastings Frimley School