This week workers in a New Zealand brewery began disposing of about 7000 litres of locally brewed, slightly old beer by pouring it down the drain.
The beer was made at West Coast Brewery in Westport on the South Island and stored in vats and kegs.
It had to be dumped because excise duty had not been paid and, as a buyer for the beer could not be found, New Zealand Customs, which has been trying to liquidate the company, wanted it destroyed.
Excise is a form of tax imposed on domestically manufactured tobacco, fuel and alcohol. Anyone who makes, sells or gives away excisable items must pay excise duty.
The disposal will occur over several weeks as Westport’s drains cannot cope with all the beer at once.
The brewery, boasting brands like Buller Bay IPA and Punakaiki Pilsener, was owned by New World Investments New Zealand which went into receivership on July 28 this year, owing Development West Coast NZ$107,000 ($102,230), IRD NZ$70,000 ($66,880), New Zealand Customs NZ$43,000 ($41,080) and unsecured creditors NZ$190,000 ($181,530).
The company’s main owner is Canadian Shawn Rayson.
Disposal began on Tuesday with receiver Brenton Hunt present to witness the start of the liquid asset’s clearance.
The beer was brewed in about April last year and still needed further processing.
Hope is around the corner for those mourning the loss of Westport’s only brewery and beer tasting room, which was popular with visitors and locals.
Luke Robertson, a beer writer and beer expert, born in Westport, has bought the brewery’s equipment and lease, and is due to arrive from Australia in mid-December with his partner Emma.
He was unavailable for interviews yesterday, but a Buller District Council press release said Mr Robertson had hired the brewery’s former brewer and intended to rebrand the facility as Shortjaw Brewing. Shortjaw is a type of whitebait.
“We really want to build a brewery that the locals are proud of, rather than a brewery trying to reach international markets,” he said.
Mr Robertson has worked for the Independent Brewers Association in Australia and is also a freelance beer writer with one book, Keg Bottle Can – Best Beer for Every Occasion, to his credit.
Mr Hunt declined to comment.