A local farmer at Hiwinui Country Estate, Tim Stewart is the only commercial craft beer brewer in Manawatū. He developed an interest in beer brewing after spending time in Turriff, the whisky region of Scotland, and began producing his own craft beer when he returned home.
At 16 years old Tim left school and began working on the family farm, where he became interested in cropping. He left the family farm at age 18 to work as an agricultural contractor in north-east Scotland during their summer months, where he learnt a lot about the whisky distillation process, which is very similar to brewing unhopped beer. “We grew barley at home and I could see that I could easily make beer and get more value from the grain,” Tim says.
Tim began brewing 15 years ago while working on the family farm, and designed a nano brewing system that enabled him to make and test different flavours. Success at the Central Districts Field Days in March this year marked the beginning of the family-owned Stewart Brewing Co.
Tim and his wife Simone, who is in charge of marketing and sales, met through mutual friends as teenagers. After a long-distance relationship for two years, Simone moved to Palmerston North to complete her marketing degree at Massey University. They have been together for 15 years and have four children.
It’s all about timing. Being patient and letting the beer do its own thing in its own time is so important. Timing is everything.
Currently Tim brews his beer out of Massey University’s Microbrewery, at the food science and technology unit, where he is able to produce commercial quantities.
While guests at Hiwinui Country Estate have been enjoying Stewart Brewing Co.’s craft beer for some time now, the increasing popularity and demand has meant that the beer is becoming more widely available.
Tim has so far brewed two different types of beer. A German/New Zealand-styled pilsner, called ‘Top of the Hops’ was Tim’s first commercially brewed beer and he enjoyed success at the Central Districts Field Days, where it sold out.
The brewing process requires “a lot of time and a lot of waiting”, Tim says. The beer needs to ferment for 10-14 days while the brewing process takes about five to eight weeks depending on the type of beer. Once the brewing process is complete the beer needs to be bottled and labelled.
“It’s all about timing. Being patient and letting the beer do its own thing in its own time is so important. Timing is everything.”