Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Russian's long trek to NZ for a beer

It was a long way to come for a Russian beer enthusiast, but drink was so good he bought two brewing machines.

A Russian beer enthusiast who spoke barely any English flew tens of thousands of kilometres to buy two personal brewing machines in New Zealand and used Google Translate to broker the deal.

Timor Israilov surprised WilliamsWarn director Ian Williams when the Magadan resident arrived unannounced at the company's Auckland offices wanting to buy a brewing machine. While Israilov had emailed the company last month, Williams heard nothing more until the Russian turned up in Penrose.

"His English was zero," Williams said. "He just walked in, we didn't know who he was ... he just said 'Google Translate' in a strong Russian accent and sat down on an [employee's] computer here and they just started talking through Google Translate."

Google Translate converts text into another language, though is something of an imperfect tool for translation.

"He said 'I've flown here, if the beer tastes good to buy the breweries' ... he flew from where he is in Magadan which is way to the right of Russia, it's almost Alaska, even east of Vladivostok. He flew to Moscow ... then all the way to South Korea, then to New Zealand," Williams said. "He had a taste of the beer, thought it was so amazing that he said he'd take two [brewing machines]."

WilliamsWarn's brewing machines, which the company claims produce commercial-quality beer, retail for more than $6000 and Israilov's machines are the first to be shipped to Russia.

Williams, who sold the first of the brewing machines in 2011, couldn't give specifics on how many had been sold but said it was in the "hundreds".

People from 30 countries had bought the machines but about 70 per cent of sales were to New Zealanders. He said some companies were buying the machines for Friday night work drinks and other groups were starting brew clubs.

Williams said this year the company was planning on expanding "in a more structured way" into Australia and the United States.

WilliamsWarn employs 8 staff and is profitable.

"The potential is still massive," said Williams. "The dream is still on target. We're building a global community of personal brewers. People don't need [commercial] breweries any more."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 22 Oct 2014 20:26:50 Processing Time: 425ms