This year’s Top Energy Business Development Fund was scooped up by the PhatHouse Brewing Company – a family owned, and operated boutique craft beer brewery based in Haruru, Bay of Islands.

Missing the taste of beers from the UK, Co-founders Caroline and Rob Harrell started batch brewing beer for personal consumption at their Kerikeri studio in 2015. Two years later, when demand from friends and family outstripped supply, the enterprising couple opened their first commercial brewery and have never looked back.

PhatHouse now distribute a range of over 12 beers locally to cafes, bars, restaurants and retailers, have an online shop, and are an approved supplier to Foodstuffs NZ.

Not ones to rest on their keg, the couple, seeing growth in residential development locally and a lack of places for people to gather and enjoy a beer, decided to remedy the situation. They extended the brewery, put in a pizza oven and opened the Brewery Bar & Taproom in January of this year.

As the only brewery in Northland where the brewery and bar are on the same premises and you can view the brewery from the bar, the PhatHouse Brewery Bar & Taproom has become a destination for locals and visitors alike. And word continues to spread of the brewery’s passion for creating delicious flavourful beers.

Always a glass half-full, Caroline and Rob plan to build on their success and introduce the PhatHouse Brewery Tour. A sensory experience of tasting grains, smelling hops and being shown the beer making process combined with story-telling and product sampling.

Unique to the region, local tourism operators say there is definite demand for such a tour, and it will entice more visitors to the area. A great opportunity to boost the local economy.

Caroline and Rob will use the grant from Top Energy to increase product supply in the market in anticipation of a rise in visitors to the region and to craft their tour experience.

The $30k will be used for building modifications, to purchase multi-media equipment, and to cover filmmaking and graphic design expertise.

The judges admit they always find it difficult selecting a winner from the high-quality applications they receive, but the PhatHouse Brewing Company submission stood out.

It demonstrated initiative, market knowledge, a clear understanding of business, as well as offering the biggest economic impact and opportunity.

Top Energy Chief Executive Russell Shaw says the company is focused on supporting business initiatives that economically benefit the local communities the businesses are in.

Top Energy launched its Business Development Fund in 2014. The scheme is designed to encourage and promote economic growth in the Far North. Grants of up to $30,000 are awarded twice a year for local business ideas or initiatives that have the potential to grow or diversify the Far North economy.

The money is either awarded in full to a single stand-out idea or in smaller amounts to several initiatives, depending on the number, quality and merit of the applications received.

For more information contact Philippa White, 021 2418740

Missing the taste of beers from the UK, Phathouse co-founders Caroline and Rob Harrell started batch brewing beer for personal consumption at their Kerikeri studio in 2015.

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Find out more about how we work within the Far North community to help create a healthy and prosperous region

Business development fund

Business development fund

Our Business Development Fund is a grant for business initiatives aimed at growing the Far North

Business development fund