Udo van Deventer of Little Creatures Brewery has always been around beer. “As a child, my dad would get me to fetch him a beer, and I learned from him that beer is something earned after a hard day’s work.” After many years in the brewing industry, van Deventer continues to work hard to find and create the perfect beer.
van Deventer first got interested in the brewing process out of sheer fascination. “I have pursued various things in life, but brewing beer is something that has captivated me, and I cannot imagine doing anything else.” He initially learned from books and friends as a hobby. At university, he studied a Bachelors in Viticulture & Oenology and following that received formal training through the Institute of Brewing & Distilling. van Deventer also credits the training received at Lion’s brewing development programmes. “There is so much knowledge out there about making beer; there is an endless opportunity to learn something new. I think that is why it is such a fascinating subject, besides which, most of the experiments are delicious.”
The brewing industry is not something that comes without its challenges. “I think my biggest challenge is seeking perfection in brewing,” van Deventer said. “I am so close to the production of my beers it is a bit like they are my children, and I know where all their little unique dimples and freckles are, even if they look the same to everyone else. Perfection is an unreachable goal, but one I enjoy striving for.”
A theme common amongst brewers is the appreciation of the industry. van Deventer said that New Zealand has a great beer scene—something that is growing in terms of appreciation. “I love the endless spread of knowledge and how willing the brewing community are to get together and share it. Beer brings people together.” Furthermore, van Deventer singles out Little Creatures for their focus on the people and developing a collaborative culture where people can be their best.
Sustainability is something that is becoming more important in not only the brewing industry but in many other food service industries. Consumers are wanting to know that the products they are supporting have not only been sourced ethically, but waste has been maintained and minimised. Little Creatures brews all their beer on site and puts it into reusable stainless kegs, said van Deventer. “Sustainability is something that just makes sense. There are always ways to improve on reducing waste and learning from others.” van Deventer said that there are many ways in which Little Creatures looks to futureproof their processes and ensure minimal waste.
“Brewing is a process that draws on so many principles used in other industries; almost any industry can share learnings that will help make better beer. I enjoy learning how things work and have certainly pulled ideas from a wide range of industries that help to make better beer.” Little Creatures certainly incorporates a variety of unique flavours in their products. One of their drawing points is the hoppiness present in many of their beers.
van Deventer is clearly passionate about beer and brewing. He said that his time brewing has been “quite an experience,” and “kind of busy,” but in general, he seems positive and completely enthralled. “All of these things point to the one underlying philosophy I follow, and that is, I want to make beer that people enjoy drinking. Every decision will relate to how the beer is going to end up in that glass. I am always searching for new ways to improve and get closer to the goal of a perfect beer.”