Running between two streets of colonial buildings in Christchurch is a cobbled lane which parts the historic brick warehouses. At the centre is a small square, housing a Gaudi like plaster and bronze fountain. Facing the fountain, built into one of the original warehouses is the Twisted Hop, a contemporary brewpub and the site of one of New Zealand’s smallest breweries.
Martin Bennett and Stephen Hardman, the two founders of the Twisted Hop immigrated separately to Christchurch from England in 2003. They were soon exposed to the tasteless lager flowing from the local taps which left them pining for the cask conditioned ale of their homeland.
Before long Martin and Stephen meet at local brewing events and soon become friends. Sharing the same vision they decide to join forces to build a pub and micro-brewery and introduce kiwis to traditional English cask conditioned ale.
They found their location in a newly developed area of cobbled lanes running through one of the old trading centres. They rolled up their sleeves and set to work on the century old warehouse, gutting the interior back to the feature wooden beans and exposed brick. Modern materials like polished concrete and glass were then added to create a crisp character-filled bar and brasserie. The resulting space is truly unique, combining the best of the modern, whilst showcasing it’s colonial past.
Martin and Stephen also built a fully functional micro-brewery behind the requisite glass viewing windows. Since neither had any experience of brewing on any scale they headed down to Invercargill to have the brewery built. For the task they selected John Timpany a steel fabricator and brewer who had been designing and building plant for small breweries and vineyards since the mid nineties. The lads stuck around for a few weeks so John could teach them how to use their new kit, then headed back to do some serious on-the-job learning.
The barrels and hand pumps necessary for conditioning and delivering cask ale were imported, and they were ready for business. They created a range of year-round ales supplemented by seasonal specials with a focus on real cask conditioned ale. For the uninitiated, cask conditioned ale is fermented once like commercial beer, then rather than receiving a burst of artificial carbonation the beer is fermented again in a cask, creating bubbles the old fashioned way.
Thanks to their vision, their great venue and some truly unique beer the Twisted Hop thrived building a loyal local following. The next step was a predictable one, they hired a full time brewer and branched out into bottled beer. Fortunately that bottled beer is now finding its way into forward thinking liquor outlets around the country, so we can all get a taste of what they have been brewing.
I’ve found some of their range in several Liquorlands, so I’m happily stocking my fridge with their Sauvin Pilsner and IPA. Both brews are crisp hoppy numbers perfect for summer BBQs. Well worth a try, as is a visit to the Twisted Hop whenever you are in Christchurch.
Twisted Hop Bottle Range
Pine and Citrus bitterness mixed with malt make this a delicious syrupy IPA. One of the best in NZ for sure.
Click for Review
Russian Imperial Stout very black and very strong,
6 Poplar St, Poplar Lanes
Christchurch, New Zealand
P 03 962 3688
F 03 963 3689
Twisted Hop Photos