The last bottle of beer rolled off the old production line at the landmark Mangatainoka Tui Brewery site yesterday, bringing with it the end of an era.
It was the final day on the job for 14 workers on the site, which will be redeveloped as a boutique brewery with some production still on-site but mostly shifted to Auckland and Timaru.
E tu Union organiser Ruth Sproston said workers were told last August the brewery would be decommissioned, with a new brew-house only requiring a "handful of people" to work at the Mangatainoka site.
She said the news of the brewery's closure came as a shock to long-time brewery workers, some of whom had worked at the Mangatainoka site for more than 40 years.
"It is the end of an era," she said. "They're a great bunch of guys and this is like the break-up of a family. But it's the way of the world."
She said a "tiny" team of people would stay on until August to complete decommissioning at the plant.
A spokesperson from DB, which owns the brewery, said the redevelopment of the Mangatainoka site would make it "more fit for purpose and safeguard it for generations to come".
"We are in the process of installing a new, smaller capacity brewery to service the requirements of the region and enhance the current Tui HQ experience, with the view to generating further tourism to the area.
"The decision, coupled with earthquake-strengthening works on the iconic Tui Tower, will see between $4-5 million invested into preserving and improving the site.
"This demonstrates DB's commitment to ensuring Tui Brewery is part of the community for many years into the future."
The new brewery will produce a range of six Tui brews available for trial on-site, as well as servicing the region with locally made Tui products.
It was previously reported by DB that the reason behind the shift in production was because of a changing market.
- Wairarapa Times-Age