Covid-19 has created new habits like Zoom meetings, mask wearing and social distancing – and staggering growth in another Kiwi activity: home brewing.
Peter Moorfield, founder and owner of Brewshop.co.nz, one of the country's leading home brew suppliers, says sales of beer-making equipment and ingredients like malt, hops and yeast have never stopped "whipping out the door" since the initial Level 4 lockdown last year.
"In the first three months of lockdown, sales increased by over 70 per cent and we had a 100 per cent increase in visits to our website," he says. "It was like a Christmas boom but many times over. This growth has carried on this year and is still 50 per cent up on pre-Covid levels; it has become a new normal.
"I guess people were sitting at home with time on their hands and it created a surge not just for us, but the entire home-brewing industry."
Moorfield started out making brews in his garage, something he did in his spare time around running a web design company. In order to gain a better understanding of an e-commerce platform he was using with his clients, he set up Brewshop online and the idea for Brewshop was born.
"We decided to get in a few products and see how they sold. Well, things went crazy. After six months we were into a warehouse and five years later I sold the web design business to go full-time running Brewshop."
"In the past it was not always a great experience trying to make a home brew because ingredients and equipment were not easy to come by. Today anything and everything you need is available and means it's possible to make beers to match those produced by both the big breweries and craft brewers.
"As well as having a decent variety to choose from these days, home brewers have access to a lot more knowledge and expertise about how to create beers whether it be pale ale or an imperial stout," he says. "Some of the beers our customers are brewing are competition winners and up there with the best craft beers on the market."
Moorfield's company is run online and sells direct to customers, a number of craft breweries and around 60 home brew retail stores throughout the country.
The growth reflects what is occurring globally in home brewing in the wake of the pandemic. In Australia two leading home brew suppliers – Coopers and Dan Murphy's – also experienced skyrocketing sales. According to a report in Australia's Beer & Brewer magazine, Coopers DIY beer sales were up 280 per cent during the first lockdowns while sales of Dan Murphy home brew kits grew by 30 per cent.
Moorfield says he believes the popularity of home brewing has also risen on the back of the craft beer industry: "Many beer lovers feel inspired by the craft beer scene and are taking the time to have a go at creating their own brews; it's really rewarding seeing the recipes our customers are coming up with.
"It can be an opportunity for Kiwis to save money by making their own beer while still enjoying a drink or two. However, this is not the motivator for most of our customers; rather they prefer to focus on making the best beer possible."
He says although Brewshop has recipe packs and beer-making kits available, most customers create their own recipes and buy ingredients (malted barley, hops and yeast) in individual amounts.
"We are based in Hamilton but our operation is based entirely online," he says. "We have a warehouse and dispatch thousands of orders from there each month. We get through over three tons of malt a month alone, for example, and with the average brew using around 5kg of the ingredient, this adds up to a lot of batches."
Brewshop will be attending the Beervana beer festival in August and, says Moorfield, "it gives us an opportunity to get our products in front of customers which isn't always easy with an online business."
For more information go to: brewshop.co.nz