Fans of Oamaru's award-winning Craftwork Brewery beers have followed the address printed on the back of the bottles to Lee-Ann Scotti's home.

But after nearly five years of brewing Belgian-style favourites in the basement of her Tyne St house, the garage at Ms Scotti's — filled with barrels of beer — was "maxed out".

A barrel room and tasting facility in Oamaru's Victorian Harbour St would not only give the "nano-brewery" (smaller than a micro-brewery) a public presence, it would provide much needed storage space for the business with plans to double the number of barrels over the year, co-owner Michael O'Brien said.

"A legal requirement in New Zealand is that you have to print your address on the bottle, you have to do it.

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"So beer geeks from America or whatever see our beer and go 'Wow, that's amazing', in Wellington, or somewhere, and then 'Right, I'm going to the South Island ..." show up at Lee-Ann's home and expect that it's a brewery," he said.

In those cases, the "beer geeks" could only be given — not sold — beer after their pilgrimage to Oamaru.

"We're excited about this," he said.

"It's a scary big step, especially for old fellas like us. It's the sort of thing that these youngies — our beer mates in their 30s — think nothing of."

The brewery was already supported by several local pubs, cafes and restaurants — "people that know what's what" — Ms Scotti said, but the Harbour St site open in the afternoons on Thursday to Sunday meant Ms Scotti and Mr O'Brien would "not be tied to this" and could still get their "brewing chores" done. The couple "mocked up a fake little Belgian beer cafe" in anticipation of their expected January 23 licence to serve beer on the premises but in the meantime had set up "a little table under the roller door" and Harbour St visitors and a few locals were already proving the move would be a winner.

Soon, nibbles like pretzels and cheese would accompany the Craftwork beer.

"It's just for people who really like beer and want to talk beer or explore beer — and take some away with them," Ms Scotti said.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

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