Cassels & Sons Brewery has commissioned a new $2 million bottling plant they say will open the way for supermarket sales and exports. Managing director Alasdair Cassels said the bottling plant, from the Czech Republic, was a major investment for the Christchurch-based company. It would expand into premises next door to the Maunsell Street brewery as exports to the UK, Australia and Asia came on stream over the next few years.
In two years’ time Cassels & Sons Brewery owner Alasdair Cassels plans to be selling a millon litres of beer annually.
“The Chinese beer market is twice as big as the American beer market, and we have a bottle specially designed for the Asian market”.
Cassels said the 888ml bottle was chosen because the number 888 is considered auspicious by Asian consumers. After opening in 2009, the brewery initially sold beer in flip-top returnable bottles, before shifting solely to draught beer and it is currently selling 300,000 litres annually.
Cassels & Sons new bottling plant has the capacity to fill 7000 bottles an hour.
The plant can fill 7000 bottles per hour and is capable of bottling more than 6 million litres a year, opening the way for sales through supermarkets and bottle stores. Sophisticated technology extracted as much oxygen as possible from bottles during the filling process which extended the shelf life of the product, Cassels said. Bottles of the company’s award-winning Milk Stout and Extra Pale Ale will hit the South Island retail market in June, with nation-wide distribution by October.
Christchurch-based Cassels expects to triple in size and the move to selling in bottles as well as kegs will put its beers on supermarket shelves.
An additional two bottled beers will be launched in spring. Cassels said the company would continue to sell draught beer, but access to off- the-shelf sales was vital in the competitive craft beer market. “There’s about 400 supermarkets in New Zealand and about 60 per cent of craft beer sold in bottles sells in those stores, so it’s very important to be in them”. Cassels said he was personally funding the expansion which could see staff go from nine to about 30. The brewery’s location at Cassel’s Tannery shopping and entertainment complex in Woolston was ideal for public tours, he said, and that was something he would like to develop down the track. The opening of a new cruise berth would see large cruise vessels due to return to Lyttelton in late 2019 and Cassels said the short bus ride from the port would make brewery visits an attractive option for passengers.