What do an insurance claims supervisor, a member of the air force, an engineer and a farmer have in common?

The answer is, not a lot to be honest, but there is one thing that brought them all together in Whanganui.

"We're all very different, but we were brought together by beer," Crombie Lockwood insurance claims supervisor Andrew Solesbury says.

"We planned to get our beer into the pubs by the end of December, which we're going to achieve next week."


Solesbury, his brother-in-law Hami Rangi, Hami's brother Tim Rangi and Adam Murphy formed the Lads Brewing Company over two years ago.

Next week, their brand new beer is set to drop at Whanganui's Mixx Bar on Victoria Ave and it has a bit of an island flavour about it.

"The Hula Girl is what we believe is our best product and it's quite unique. There are not many coconut beers out there on the market," Solesbury says.

"We thought we'd try and differentiate ourselves from the competition, but we also chose to put it out because it's just in time for summer and it's quite an easy drinking beer."

The Hula Girl Pale Ale will also become available at the Rutland Arms Inn in the near future.

Tim Rangi, a member of the air force, describes it as a refreshing beverage that's light on the mouth with caramel notes, a bitterness to keep you there and a coconut finish.

They started out as four guys that enjoyed a brew or two while making their own beer with a kit set on Friday nights.

Solesbury is from Peterborough in England, hence the name of the company.


He moved to Auckland seven years ago, before moving to Whanganui, where he married his partner three weeks ago.

"She wanted to come here and I followed. I had no friends," Solesbury says and laughs.

"Friday nights were a good excuse to tell all the wives and girlfriends 'we're going round to brew some beer,' but we'd just get drunk basically."

Then they began to receive positive feedback. They liked what they were drinking and so did others. The partying was over and it was time to give this a decent crack.

They brought some new equipment and began brewing 200 tonnes of beer per week in Tim's garage.

"We couldn't sell it from there because it's not an MPI-approved facility. Now, we're contract brewing out of Massey University who are MPI-approved.

"They have a 200 litre system where it's brewed, then it comes back here where it goes into a sort of quarantine zone."

All four men agreed that they'd love to be able to do the brewing full time, as it can become challenging to juggle it with full-time jobs and young families.

They are constantly researching the craft, looking out for potential commercial premises or land and working on new brews.

They have nine on the go, four of which they are happy with potentially brewing commercially, including a pilsener and an APA which may also go on sale soon.

"It's just working out so good, we're all from different backgrounds and we've all got our areas of expertise," Solesbury says.

"When we started, it was our dream to get our product into the pub and now we're almost there. We're stoked."