JOE AND CHRISTINA WOOD – LIBERTY BREWING

Despite Liberty Brewing’s reasonably small size, it packs a punch when it comes to churning out great beer. Since its foundation in 2009, Christina and Joe Wood have been running the operation, with seven committed staff members. From what initially progressed out of a home-brewing operation, Liberty Brewing has performed remarkably well over the last few years, winning multiple awards.

“Our approach is pretty simple,” said Joe Wood. “We wish to build a reputation that when Liberty is part of the conversation, the conclusion is that it is reliably good. We just want to brew consistent beer that is the best possible quality.”

Liberty primarily focuses on manufacturing beer packaged in cans and bottles, but also offer kegged beer for restaurants, cafés and bars. According to Wood, they offer everything from the innocuous to the bold.

Recently, Liberty took out a range of prizes at the New Zealand Brewer’s Guild Awards. Not only did they win a medal for every beer they entered, but they also took out the Champion Award for Medium New Zealand Brewery. Furthermore, they won two Best in Class Trophies: Halo for New Zealand Styles and Yakima Monster for International Pale Ale. Overall, Liberty came out on top, winning Champion New Zealand Exhibitor—the best performer at the awards.

Given the outstanding performance shown at the awards, what does Wood think makes an exceptional beer? “Attention to detail,” Wood said. “Staff members who care about what they do and take pride in what they make. At work, we all know each job is as important as the next. There are no heroes. No rockstars. Just committed operators focussed on one single outcome: good beer.”

New Zealand’s beer scene is often said to be collaborative. This is something that Wood agrees with, saying that it is more of a community than an industry. “We are still growing as an industry—it’s still young over here. We are lucky enough to have some unique ingredients, and the suppliers work with us to help identify flavour and aroma descriptions for some of the ingredients.” Although the community aspect remains strong in New Zealand, Wood noted that our beer is heavily taxed and regulated.

Although there is demand for low and non-alcoholic options, this isn’t something Liberty endeavours to compete in. “Those beer styles have been marketed very competitively by the large producers who can offer it at extremely low prices—we cannot compete in that space.” Instead, Wood recommended utilising Liberty’s great beer, and mixing it with soda water or lemonade should someone desire a lower amount of alcohol. Another major trend was the collaborative projects we see throughout the industry, something Wood thinks will grow and develop.

With a string of awards in the bag, Liberty does not look as though they are likely to slow down anytime soon. “Our future should hopefully be much of the same. We are happy with our consistency. I’d like to think that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Wood said that the brewery is ready for the influx of customers following their recent success, especially coming into the summer months. Looking ahead towards the future of New Zealand, Wood thinks that brewing looks likely to head to regionalisation. “Nothing tastes better than getting beer from the source, and supermarket shelves are getting overcrowded. I think the net result is a brewery in every town offering an ultra-fresh product at a more competitive rate than even supermarkets can offer,” said Wood.