While most breweries are powered with gas, James Hay chose to pay a premium to charge his new brew pub and restaurant fully from renewable energy.

The facility, called b.social, is a spinoff from the brewery b.effect that Hay founded in 2015.

With the help of Matt and Anna Laming who own another Wanaka bar and eatery as well as other investments in tourism and property, b.social opened its doors at the end of November last year.

It worked out to be very good timing — many businesses asked to have their end of year work functions at b.social.


"It's been really good" Hay said.

"We were really lucky opening in that period running into Christmas.

"We had a few functions and stuff like that ... some really good support from the businesses around here".

The brewery would be run off renewable energy purchased from Genesis. The restaurant would run off the same power source but there would be some gas used in the kitchen, something Hay said he hoped to move away from.

Hay chose to use renewable energy instead of gas because he wanted the business to have as low an environmental impact as possible.

"I was just looking at the future ... what I care about and what consumers care about. It's just about having the lowest impact you can.

"In brewing your biggest inputs are really power and water.

"If you can be as responsible as possible around those two things ... that's only going to be a good thing".

Wanaka's first
Wanaka's first "neighbourhood brew pub" and restaurant has opened its doors, with beers brewed onsite using 100 per cent renewable energy. Photo / Supplied

He also planned to use solar power to offset the business' electricity consumption.

"We've got a really nice big, flat roof that faces north.

"The goal is to then fit that out with solar panels and that's something we'll be talking to the landlord about.

"We can offset [electricity usage] by continuously putting power back into the grid for times we're not boiling. We only boil for about an hour a day".

Hay said in the long term he predicted electricity prices would come down and be more competitive with gas.

"We're definitely taking a long-term approach here".

Securing the tenancy for the Anderson Heights location was a bit of a waiting game: Hay said they had been looking for the right place for about two years.

Before that they were contracting brewing out to various other breweries, such as New New New in Dunedin.

"A tenancy that we would like has taken a long time to come up.

"But we've been really lucky in getting a spot that's up on Anderson Heights. We're just surrounded by houses.

"We thought 'well actually this will lend itself really well for people just dropping in to have a beer'".

Laming and Hay were also involved in the mountain biking scene in Wanaka and would use the b.social facility to help promote the sport, Hay said.