Brewery to complement creative space

    Tuatara Backpackers and Cafe owners Chris Ellenden and Nicola McGilvray are opening a brewery at the back of the establishment in September. Photo: Luisa Girao

    A NEW venture is brewing in town.

    Chris Ellenden works on a brew. Photo: Shane Henderson

    Tuatara Backpackers and Cafe owners Chris Ellenden and Nicola McGilvray have been working for more than a year to expand their business and open a “350-litre gravity fed” brewery at the back of their establishment on Invercargill’s Dee St.

    Gandoochi Brewing is set to open by September and will incorporate a tasting area, a stage for live performances and a variety of ciders and brewings for all kinds of tastes.

    For that, the back wall of the cafe would be demolished and customers will be able to watch the whole brewing process.

    “The whole driving force is to make the cafe as somewhere where there is art. So you have craft beer, art on the walls, music on the stage… the idea is to be a big art hub and a creative zone. It is pretty exciting,” Ms McGilvray said.

    Mr Ellenden had merged two of his passions for the project – his engineering background and brewing hobby.

    His first brew was made in an old washing machine barrel back in the 1980s.

    “I’ve always done a little bit of brewing over the years, so we thought it was a good idea to create our own,” he said.

    Ms McGilvray remembered one night at the beginning of their relationship, when beer helped Mr Ellenden’s luck.

    “In the late I lived in Australia and was used to clubbing till late. When I came back to Invercargill, all the pubs shut down at 10pm.

    “We did not know where to go but Chris always had beers in his house, in the shed – that’s how he got me,” she said with a laugh.

    Years later, when the couple’s orchard in Roxburgh began to produce more fruit than they could deal with, they started to use the crops for brewing cider.

    “We were sick of doing fruit leather and everything you can think of – preserves, jams,” Ms McGilvray said.

    The couple started to produce their own cider with nothing but fruit and yeast, and after the products proved popular, they were now venturing down the beer path.

    Both were excited with the new opportunity and hoped to attract a different kind of customer.

    “All towns have their own brewery and we don’t have anything like that. I believe it will complement what is already going on here,” Mr Ellenden said.

    “It is a piece of art, really. As far as the brewery goes,” Ms McGilvray said.