INVERCARGILL BREWERY – Beer from the bottom of the world

TEXT: Gingerbeardyman

Welcome back to another beer tasting adventure with the Thirsty Boys and our latest escapade sampling the brews of New Zealand’s southernmost brewery, The Invercargill Brewery.

It began for a few of the Thirsty Boys with what is fast becoming a tradition of sneaking in a wee snifter of the latest home brewing exploits of my good self. But alas, as one tradition was beginning another was about to come to an end as the Jesuit announced that for the very first time in three years of dedicated attendance he would not be joining us. Apparently he had a far greater pressing matter of going to see about a girl. Some traditions though continue on unabated as we had to endure our usual twenty minute wait for Malice to finally show up, thankfully we had a glass or two of my wee heavy to see us through.

The facts Jack, just the facts:

  • New Zealand’s Southernmost Brewery (which probably means it’s the Southernmost brewery in the big bad world)
  • Invercargill Brewery uses 20 different types of malt
  • It uses one tonne of lager malt in a week
  • Steve Nally or his offsider Gina Kearney brew for about 5.5 hours each day
  • It takes about 10 to 14 days to make a standard 4.5 per cent beer and longer for a stronger beer
  • In 1999 Steve and his farther Gerry leased a dis-used diary shed in Oteramika Road on the outskirts of the city and set up business.
  • He began brewing beer for a living in 1999, producing 5000 litres a year.
  • In 2005 the brewery outgrew the old blue dairy shed and moved to downtown Invercargill where the story continues.

“There is plenty of scope for originality. When you make something different or unusual, the market soaks it up now.”*

Steve Nally, Southland Times March 2012

A Statement of intent

“At Invercargill brewery first and foremost it’s about taste… but we really do believe in putting less in, and getting more out.”

“And if it tastes good, there’s a good chance it’ll make great beer.”*



Slightly listlessly, we Thirsty Boys found our way to one of our favourite places The Hop Garden to settle in for our session of Southland delights. I say listlessly as we were not only abandoned for the evening by our spiritual leader but to add to our ills our founding father, Mr Horse was also absent, seeing fit to bugger off on a beer drinking odyssey round my home land of bonnie Alba. May I add this was not the first session hosted by yours truly that Mr Horse has conveniently left the country to avoid; maybe I should take the hint. But if he provides us with detailed blog all will be forgiven.


First off the bat was the B.Man which is poured off the tap, our host Scotty explains why this is a good thing: “Bottling means there is more chance for something to contaminate the process.”  This also explains why many of our favourite craft beers are only available at a local bar as many independent brewers do not want to take on the costly and temperamental process of bottling.

The B.Man is brewed using Cascade and Riwaka hops, Gladfield lager and Caramalt malt with a lager yeast to produce a pilsner at 5.2%


Approached by the owner of the BombayPalace in Invercargill, Steve set about making a beer to suit – naming the final brew after the restaurant manager’s father – Biman (which is repeated in Sanskrit on the label.)

In 2009, in an attempt to clarify pronunciation, the beer was rebranded,

Thirsty Boys Tasting Notes:

“it’s a unique twist on a pilsner…its a pilsnery pilsner” GLB

“Its soft…” Braedon

“Orchard fruits, apricots and stone fruit” Scotty

“Tastes like the inside of a bread making machine” GLB

This is where the honey should B” GLB

“I’ve had this beer before, and I’m OMG this is the best beer ever..!” Braedon

“I sound like a girl” Braedon


AIBA Silver Medal 2012, AIBA Bronze Medal 2010; BrewNZ Gold Medal & Best in Class 2008

Next up and not without controversy is a fruit beer helpfully descriptive in its name, the Boysenbeery. Scotty did remind me before hand that fruit beers had not necessarily been well received by the Thirsty Boys but it I felt it was good to throw caution to the wind.

A brew described by Mr Nally as a Belgium-style kriek beer with a Kiwi twist. It is made from Riwaka and Pacific Gem hops and blend of four malts brewed with Belgium Wit yeast to produce a burgundy coloured beer of 6.5%. According to the brewery website the Boysenberry makes up 15% of the volume.

Thirsty Boys Tasting Notes:

“it’s a gender neutral initially respectful fruit beer” the Distinguished Visiting Fellow

“A manly fruit beer…” GBM

“Looks red and ribena-ish – but has more depth, body and balls” Scotty

“If anything there is a tartness there…it’s a seasonal beer” Scotty

I expected it to be syrupy and gross…but it is really nice” the Distinguished Visiting Fellow

If you drool on yerself it will show up” GBM


BrewNZ Bronze Medal 2006

This is a beer that has been produced with a distinctive story to tell and I feel it is better left to Steve himself to explain:

“When our first beer, inauspiciously named IBS, was re-engineered in 2006 the new recipe was named for brewer Steve Nally’s maternal grandfather Lance Corporal Stanley Green no 4342115, who was killed during WWII.

Originally from Manchester, England, Stanley Green met Edith Coles in Clevedon where they were later married. After the ceremony he returned to his regiment. Months later the 29-year old was dead.

A career soldier in the 2nd Battalion The East Yorkshire Regiment, Stanley had served in India and then in France in 1939.

Ironically he survived Dunkirk only to be killed on a training exercise in Inverness in May 1942, just seven weeks after the birth of his only child – his sole legacy the daughter he saw just once.”

Thirsty Boys Tasting Notes:

“Almost slightly sour” GLB

Green is the right word…it is slightly offy…” GBM

“A bit of toffee but no real bitterness” Scotty

“Lacks an assertive hops character” Scotty

“A session-able pale ale…It’s not going to build up on you” Scotty

“ This beer has a serious back story, it’s a little bit heavy…” the Distinguished Visiting Fellow


Then we arrived at one of two new seasonal brews that were new to all of the Thirsty Boys. Due to a lack of note taking on my part and a complete reliance on Malice to scribe all details I am unable to give any information about the brews in question apart from them being twists on very successful and favourite of ours the Pitch Black.

Thirsty Boys Tasting Notes:

“Wonderful nose” GBM

“Tastes like a summery version of stout” GLB

It’s the brightness of the fruit… a burnt dessert” GBM

“Fruit cake” Karori-fryup


This beer was tough to drink and I could not finish it, one other also failed to empty their glass but the rest of the boys fully indulged to offer us a full perspective of this unique drop. Personally I do not think I will be seeking to repeat the experience.

Thirsty Boys Tasting Notes:

“Kind of like punishment” the Distinguished Visiting Fellow

“This beer is purgatory” GBM

“This is quite approachable” Scotty

“Its burning my gills out” Malice


We moved swiftly on to the Autumnal release, the Sa!son, which I was particularly looking forward too as I had heartily enjoyed the previous year’s release. Famed for their barnyard qualities this particular incarnation is a blend of four malts and five hops including Falconers Flight and Sticklebract and pushing up to a gutsy 6.8%.

“The funk-level is James Brown on the stereo next door — when you were in the mood to listen to him anyway, but too lazy to get out of your chair.” June 3, 2011 , Beer Diary by Phil Cook

Thirsty Boys Tasting Notes:

“I love this beer! GBM

“Possibly a little colder than it had to be” Scotty

“It’s a beautiful style beer, a farmhouse ale, funky and farmyard” Scotty

“This is really nice, funky…a little bit not right. Really nicely warped…” GBM

“Traditionally a dirty style” GLB

“Earthy” Scotty

“Saison is about the outside of a fruit…a lime” GLB

“This tastes a bit like the sole of someone’s shoe, but I think I like it” the Distinguished Visiting Fellow


The last round of the evenings tasting was the curiously named honeyed ale – the Wasp. A classic New Zealand Pilsner recipe rounded off with some Kamahi honey at 4.8%.

Thirsty Boys Tasting Notes:

“Wasps sometimes make honey” Braedon

“Started as a honeyed wheat beer perhaps a reference to Steve the brewers working class roots” Scotty

“A sweetness above and beyond a pilsner” Scotty

“The honey is super pronounced” Evan

Food match “A tangy cheese” GLB

Food match: good with salty deep fried chips and cheese” GLB

A lot more to it than a lot of lagers” GLB

“I’d happily get hammered on it” GBM


“I still have the same passion for beer and building the business as I did when I started.

I love everything about brewing, from the ingredients to the process.”

Steve Nally, Southland Times March 2012

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2 thoughts on “INVERCARGILL BREWERY – Beer from the bottom of the world

  1. Forgot to say a big thank you to Mr Nally for being so incredible accommodating with his knowledge and for helping me demolish the better half of a bottle of malt.

    Commendations all round for the HopGardens hosting of the tasting, Scotty was an excellent compare and the food was superb.

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