Company brews up winner

By Victoria White

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North Port Events CEO Dona White (left), with the WilliamsWarn team Patrick Ratcliffe, Jeremy Absolom, Ian Williams, and Peter Brown of James & Wells, with awards judge Trina Snow, manager of Buy NZ Made.
North Port Events CEO Dona White (left), with the WilliamsWarn team Patrick Ratcliffe, Jeremy Absolom, Ian Williams, and Peter Brown of James & Wells, with awards judge Trina Snow, manager of Buy NZ Made.

Helping bars and restaurants become their own breweries has seen a Hawke's Bay-based company take out the competition at a biennial bonanza in Auckland.

The Fine Food Innovation Awards were held on Sunday night in Auckland, with entrants covering everything from dairy-free coconut yoghurt to a coeliac dining-out programme.

Not only did WilliamsWarn, founded by Ian Williams and Anders Warn, receive the award for Most Innovative New Equipment for their BrewKeg 50, they were also recognised with the top prize - the James & Wells Champion of Innovation Award.

The BrewKeg 50 can produce 50 litres of beer or cider in five to seven days, with no formal training required, and is marketed as being ideal for smaller bars and cafes wanting to put their own individual touch on their particular brew.

Mr Williams, a Master Brewer, said the BrewKeg 50 was like Uber for the brew market. "Bars, clubs and cafes can make beer at half the price of what they get from the brewery, in seven days. And it gives them the power to create their own brand."

Each BrewKeg 50 is assembled at the company's Hastings factory. General manger Jeremy Absolom said, while the team had been "quietly confident" about winning the award for Most Innovative New Equipment, they had been stunned to also receive the overall prize.

"It was a surprise, but it was certainly a just reward for our two directors who have been tirelessly working away."

While the equipment was only test marketed earlier this year, he said it was quite an exciting time in the food and beverage area.

"People are looking for points of difference, they're looking for locally made, fresh food and fresh beverages, that's where our product sits," Mr Absolom said.

"We're enabling restaurants and bars access to brewing capabilities that historically have been beyond their reach.

"Restaurants can be creative with food and menus, and build their brand that way, but until recently they haven't been able to do that with their beverages."

North Port Events CEO Dona White said choosing the winners proved difficult due to the high calibre of entrants.

Held every two years since 2010, Fine Food New Zealand is an international trade event for the food service, food retail and hospitality industries, with this year its biggest yet. Fine Food New Zealand, run by North Port Events, recognised the country's unique selling position as an innovator in the entire culinary field, Ms White said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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