Like many New Zealanders, the thought of starting a brewery is expected to have been brought up once or twice over a lifetime, and for Paul and Karen, this became a reality.
Returning to Dunedin in 2012 after spending twenty years in Hong Kong and Sydney, the shift was inspired after seeking a change in everyday life.
It all started in a shed behind Spelt Bakery, with no electricity, no running water, and louvre windows stuck open. They found this fine in the summer, yet mornings were unbearable when May hit 4 degrees.
Conversely, during the 60-minute boil, the duo would be stuck in the shed, which became a sauna, inspiring the name ‘steam brewing’.
“We naively decided to ‘give it a go’ and found a small space in a fish factory near Steamer Basin, the wharf built for steamships back in Dunedin’s heyday, which was fitting for the name steam brewing,” said Gazzard.
After spending some time in Portland, Oregon, where the pair visited ten breweries, they began selling at Otago Farmers Market, inspired to make seasonal beer using fresh ingredients.
As success grew, Kelly and Gazzard looked to get bigger. After being pointed towards Hayden Cawte, NZ Heritage Properties, the partnership was committed to restoring the derelict building in the old Bond Quarter.
After many delays, the brewery opened in July of 2021, where the Steamer Basin is located on No Name Alley.
Since 2012, the brewery has shifted from being a neighbourhood brewer to monitoring a 1500 L brewery and taproom, where they cook and pair foods with beer.
Using local products with NZ Hops from Nelson and Gladfield Malt from Canterbury in all their beer, many fresh ingredients are grown and gathered within Otago. Using only filtered tap water from Dunedin too.
With purpose, Steamer Basin only sells in Dunedin, supporting the local economy and environment and encouraging people to travel and discover new food and drinks.
“Our region is an amazing destination, and we want our beer to be part of that experience,” said Kelly.
With a simple goal of making well-balanced beer, the Dunedin locals enjoy people coming down to share a brew and a laugh and getting to know both the regulars and those who have travelled far and wide.
Following their recent success in overcoming COVID’s hurdles, they focus on getting their beer on taps all around Dunedin and promoting their location as a top spot. With two new neighbours and a distillery, it’s highly likely.