From the Totara Brewing website:
Totara Brewing Co. is situated in the Wai-lti Valley 20 minutes south of Nelson. It is the only hop farm brewery in New Zealand; producing hand crafted beers using only natural ingredients and the finest New Zealand hops.
From The Nelson Mail - A group of mates are making a good fist of running the country's only farm brewery just out of Wakefield. In just over a year Totara Brewing Company has won a good number of fans and some glowing reviews for its boutique beers, made from the shareholders' own hops and brewed in a rustic shed on Peter Lines' farm. A fifth generation hop grower, Mr Lines formed the company along with fellow hop grower Colin Oldham, of Tapawera, Eighty-eight Valley farmer Ian Parkes, Richmond fisherman Shane Wakelin and Ross Ford, who works on Mr Lines' farm and in the brewery.
"It was a spur of the moment thing," explained Mr Lines. "A bloke renting my house had bought the Kohatu pub and thought he was going to put a brewery in there but ran out of money and there was a bit of a fire sale [of the brewing plant]. "A few of us were sitting here having a beer with him and in a rash moment said `we'll buy it'." While they got it cheap, they soon realised it was only 20 per cent of the equipment they needed to start brewing but being "pretty practical blokes" they managed to cobble together something that worked.
They also employed an experienced brewer to teach them, "because we were green as grass". "He helped us get through the first six to eight brews until we got the hang of it." Now after 70 brews and a lot of fast learning they were confident they could handle most situations, Mr Lines said.
They brew about 3000 litres a month, all of which is sold in Nelson, with the Wakefield Hotel their biggest customer. The Moutere Inn and the Free House are among a handful of outlets that also stock it, but Mr Lines said it was a battle when the big breweries controlled so many of the taps. "We've had to keep our prices down because we're the new boys on the block and you've got to be competitive to get into outlets." So far they have produced four beers – a draught, a lager, one brewed for special events they attend like wine and food festivals and another, called Ninkasi Green, made for the Marchfest beer festival using green fresh hops picked on the day of brewing, which has won particular praise. Their draught was also judged champion at the local A&P show.
Being busy men, brewing gets done on wet days, fitted around other jobs or very early in the morning. "There's always something to do in the brewery every day, but you pop in for an hour at night, have a beer and do the job," said Mr Lines, who also runs a farm with 600 sheep along with just over 10 hectares of hops and produces Totara Terrace grape juice.
I would like to think I've got most days pretty full." While the brewery was a "thoroughly enjoyable" sideline which paid its way, "we didn't have to make a big profit or pay a divvy to please our shareholders", Mr Lines joked. "We started the business with very low capital and had to top it up a couple of time but we've done a heck of a lot out of turnover." The novelty may have worn off, but they still get a kick out of getting together to taste a new brew. "Colin and I have been hop growers all our lives so the association with brewing has all been part of it," Mr Lines said. "We really enjoy making the beer, we're familiar with the varieties of hops we're using, their aroma and smell and relating it back to what the beer tastes like."
The positive feedback they had received from customers made it even more worthwhile, he said. "It's been good to try something a bit different. It's another way to make the land work for you; we've enjoyed that challenge and it's also interesting working together after being our own bosses for so long."
Totara Brewing's range of beers:
Drover’s Draught - The first Brew releassed in mid 2009 was a draught style beer,aptly named "DroversDraught" reflecting the farm background of the Partners in the Brewery. "Drovers Draught" is an easy drinking draught with a subtle malt undertone and a mild bittering finish using "Green Bullet" hops.
Totara Gold - The second release "Totara Gold" followed shortly after. A classic lager, bright, clear, golden beer again very gently malt-accented with a balanced aroma and bittering hop finish using "Pacific Jade" NZ Hallertau and Riwaka hops.
Ninkasi Green Limited Edition - This amber ale was brewed in the tradational method using green hops freshly harvested on the day of brewing. The result a full flavoured,thirst quenching ale with the beautiful pungency of Hop picking time. This ale "Ninkasi Green" was thus named after the ancient Sumerian goddess Ninkasi who was the goddess of beers and brewers.