Heidi Crockett discovered the world of brewing by chance.
One afternoon in mid-2020, Heidi was out with her daughter when she discovered a brewery for sale. After running large contact centres for 22 years, it was time for a change, and Colab Brewing came at the perfect time.
“It hit all the right points, we already brew beer how hard could it be, what could possibly go wrong? And finally, I could use my Chemistry degree and my husband loves beer, and will help with plant automation and processing. It also meant that I could do this and be around for my kids which was probably the most important thing,” said Heidi.
After visiting the brewery, which was a small 3 x 300-litre manual kit in the back of a hobby farm in Riverhead. The next six months saw work, brewing with previous owners, Covid lockdowns, selling the family home in Auckland, and buying a new house in Warkworth. Fast forward two years and Colab Brewing now produces 6 x 1000 litres, with an automated brew house, and living and loving Warkworth.
“We are now in a grow-the-business mindset. if only Covid and the weather would cooperate. The learning curve has been high and keeps going. Hopefully, the hard work will pay off soon.”
The idea behind Colab Brewing is to produce beer that people will want to drink seasonally. This means it is easier to drink with a relatively low ABV. Although seasonal, Heidi said that they are not in the game for a new beer each month. Being a local business, Colab Brewing supports local where ever it can, and always uses ingredients that are New Zealand-made when possible. She added that you need the best ingredients for the best-tasting beer.
Long-term sustainability is also a priority which drives Colab Brewing, 100,000 litres of rainwater fill the tanks, and that 9.6 kilowatts of solar power is used to generate electricity. The grain used is sourced from Gladfields Malt in Canterbury, and New Zealand Hops are used in over half the beer produced.
Colab Brewing is located on 11 hectares of regenerative native bush, and was redesigned to reduce overall power consumption by three-quarters of the original design. Heidi said that she and her husband are exploring co2 recovery systems as well.
After first starting, she realised that Warworth was full of brewers, and she did not want to be a follower. It was from this moment that Collab Brewing decided to make Sayitwithbeers, which a lot of hard work went into.
The concept allows customised beer can packaging for various occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries, corporate gifts, or even branding for restaurants and bars.
Heidi explained that the key to making a great beer is balance.
“All the ingredients should melt into one great-tasting drink that makes you want more. This is a big part of science and another big part of art. Both need to be present to make a great-tasting beer.”
She said that being her own boss is a rewarding aspect of the job, and that being able to move her personal and work life around each other is beneficial to her.
“I enjoy making beer recipes and making beer that people want to drink, and I get to be around for my children even if working as they are close by.”
Making Sayitwithbeers a household brand is a future goal for Colab Brewing, creating a brand that people know and want to receive as gifts. The wet weather has impacted work, and further work needs to be completed on the brewery itself, but there are hopeful opportunities on the horizon.
The New Zealand Beer Awards this year is something Heidi has her fingers crossed for, as well as the Auckland Food Show as well. Colab Brewing is also working with Zanz, a canning machine designed in New Zealand, which she hopes to see used permanently in her brewery in the coming year.