Beer news

The Kiwi Brewery That's 150 Years Old

Started by gold prospectors on the West Coast, this year Monteith’s celebrates its 150th anniversary as one of New Zealand’s pioneering beer brands

Words: Jai Breitnauer

In the 1860s New Zealand was experiencing a gold rush, and the rugged West Coast was in its heyday. As gold seeped from the very land beneath, the population rose to a record high of more than 28,000 people, mostly men. And those men were thirsty. “There were more than 300 pubs in the area at the time,” says Simon Smith, Monteith’s Brand PR and Digital Manager, noting that the amber nectar was another type of gold rush in the region. “There were 84 in one Hokitika street alone. The William Monteith’s family started the humble Phoenix Brewery, which soon became the Coast’s most popular brewer for its strong, full-bodied ales.”

In 1927, Phoenix merged with a group of other small, family-owned breweries to become the Westland Brewing Co. In 1969 they became part of Dominion Breweries, or DB. “As the 1990s approached, beer consumption in New Zealand had begun to fall,” says Smith. By 1990, Westland Brewing Co decided a new approach was needed, so they took things back to 1927 by referencing the brewery’s early roots – renaming the company Monteith’s Brewing Company and reintroducing its traditional brews. 

Monteith’s emerged stronger and prouder, fighting off closure and showing that pioneering spirit was still flowing through the West Coast, even though the pioneers themselves were long gone. “It’s a brewery on the West Coast of New Zealand that has stood the test of time. Our motto is ‘follow no one’ and that’s what we’ve done, to huge success.” 

Celebrate Monteith's 150th anniversary by sampling our pick of Monteith's beers below, available at Liquorland stores nationwide...

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