The Brew Moon Brewing Company celebrates its fifteenth birthday this month, with a new set of 330ml cans and refreshed labels.

Newcomers The Wolf of Washington APA and Sitting Bull American IPA will join long-term favourites Hophead IPA, Darkside of the Moon Stout, Amberley Pale Ale, Blood Moon Red IPA and the Pilsner. The seven cans will be available from the brew pub in Amberley and throughout New Zealand supermarkets and retailers.

Originally established in 2002, things have changed significantly in the New Zealand craft beer scene since then.

Despite the changes, the Brew Moon has seen value in remaining a small, family owned business. Founded by husband and wife Kieran McCauley & Belinda Gould, they now have their sons, Toby and Oscar, working alongside them.

“At fifteen years old Brew Moon is one of the longest-lived brewpubs in New Zealand and were pioneers of fiercely independent local beer long before beer lovers were even talking about such things,” said Jules van Costello, author of ‘BREWED; A Guide to the Craft Beer of New Zealand’. “Their beers Hophead and Dark Side are amongst the country’s finest.”

Kieran and Belinda were originally inspired by the American craft brewing scene, when the family lived in California in the late 1990s. When they returned to New Zealand, Belinda continued her day job as a winemaker while Kieran and original brewer Carl Hadler set up the brewery in the old Cider Garden facility just outside Amberley. The doors opened in October 2002.

Whilst retaining their relatively small size, the Brew Moon recently moved to Markham Street in Amberley where they have increased capacity. The move to a bigger facility has enabled the rest of the family to get involved. Oscar looks after marketing and sales and Toby is one of the brewers and runs the new canning machine. The Brew Moon moved to 100 percent canned beer two years ago, “because its better in so many ways; the beer is fresher and more stable as it cannot be harmed by light and is less vulnerable to oxidation. Also, NZ made cans are currently the only environmentally sustainable option,” Belinda said.

The new site has also given the opportunity to develop a tap room, (a cellar door for beers) and a chance to talk with those drinking their efforts. In turn, the customers love the opportunity to talk to the people involved in the brewing. There is a pizza oven on site making wood-fired pizzas including a “pizza of the week” which is inspired by everything from the latest beer to international events. Local and seasonal products are used and new pizzas are matched with a Brew Moon beer.

The fifteen years has given Belinda and Kieran some time for perspective. They can see the craft beer movement is a growing scene, and look forward to the day when there’s real craft beer in every pub. They can see regionality becoming a major thing, and hope there’s Brew Moon beer on tap in every pub in North Canterbury. They note that in America, breweries can’t own taps (as it’s considered anti-competitive) and wish for similar rules here where multinationals control all the taps in most bars.

However, the Brew Moon team find the growing number of independent bars heartening, especially in Wellington. As is the trend for formerly contract made labels taking the plunge and invest in their own breweries.  They think this will help to protect the industry from homogeneity.

For Belinda the highlights over the years include; finally choosing brewing over winemaking, being chosen to represent NZ at the 2014 JD Wetherspoons International Real Ale Festival (which involved brewing at the historic Hook Norton Brewery in Oxfordshire), and having her boys both join the Brew Moon team.

The entire Brew Moon ‘family’ has a positive vision for the future of New Zealand craft brewing. They’re heartened by the growing range of interesting beers, not just more hops, but wheats, sours, saisons and more balanced IPAs, brewed by passionate brewers in small regional breweries all over the country.