Monday, June 9, 2014

Where's The Townshend's At?

So Townshend's Brewery from Nelson, NZ is looking for a distributor into Australia.

"Suh-weet!" is what you'll hear those in the know say. "Can't wait to get my hands on it when it gets over the ditch!" you might also hear.

But it's not quite as easy as that, so let me slightly amend that first statement.

Townshend's are still looking for a distributor into Australia.

Martin Townshend has been looking for a distributor for little while now and for those that have tried his beers, it's something of a cranium scratcher that he hasn't been snapped up with vigour.

It's clear as day that in Australia we have a love affair with Kiwi beers, and it's with good reason. They're a strong group that do well at making beers that we want to drink.

We tend to gravitate toward brews from over the Tasman, and 

Have you tried Martin's beers before?

During Good Beer Week they were featured as part of the Kiwi pop up bar at The Catfish, or maybe you've been across to New Zealand and tried them locally. If you have done either of these you know what I'm talking about.

You might not have tried them at all, and there's a couple of reasons for that.

"There's no distribution here Dave, you zilch. Isn't that the whole point of this post?"

Jesus, give me a break here, I'm getting to it.

The times you might have seen Townshend's around (particularly us Melbourne folk) would have been at the GABS (Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular) festivals from 2012 - 2014.

Martin understands what GABS is all about, but that doesn't mean that he's going to conjure something outrageously out of style and ostentatious.

In 2012 he made the Janszoon Summer Ale which was a gentle English IPA that had mildly prominent late hops that made this pop.

2013 saw the Riwaka ale was a 3.7% Ordinary Bitter that was hopped with Riwaka hops.

This year we saw Union Square, a 5.5% UK style ESB.

Now you all know how GABS works. The directive is that each brewery must present a beer that has not been previously released on tap or in bottles.

When we get killer python kolschs, rocky road ales, pepper steak porters and the like we tend to overlook the "regular" sounding beers in favour of the weird and wonderful sounding ales that make our tongues tingle and our brains struggle to even comprehend what we just tasted.

Even if you don't ignore beers like Martin's in this kind of environment, when you have tiny tasters in a paddle the delicately crafted stylistic ales get dwarfed by imperial IPAs, dry chiptole'd ales and creme caramel eisbocks.

How are you supposed to appreciate the subtle characteristics of a mild ale when you tongue is covered in a thick layer of pure lupulin?

Each year now I've had a full glass of the Townshend's beer and this is really the best way to fully appreciate any beer.

This interest influenced me when I ventured over to Wellington in 2013. What I'd tasted at GABS led me to do a little research on what Townshend's have to offer. It was clear from this preliminary research that I had to seek out his Flemish Stout. The description of this beer was smack bang in my wheelhouse.

Dave Wood at Hashigo Zake pulled out a bottle for me and I tasted one of the most extraordinary beers I'd ever had. 

This moment, in conjunction with my GABS experiences, was enough for me to add Townshend's to my favourite breweries and those that I want to seek out wherever I can.

Anyway, this is a rambly way of explaining that even if you have had the opportunity to, you may have not properly tried anything from Townhend's.

Martin is a brewer's brewer. Ask the Kiwi brewers what they think and you'll get similar answers across the board. 

I emailed Martin to get his thoughts on Australian distribution, and it seems that his align with mine pretty closely. 

"...with our new bottling plant from Italy we are now ready and wanting to find Australian distribution.  With our new branding and website, we are in a better position than ever to export.  Our beers were well received through Phoenix (one off deal) last month to coincide with GABS, but on approaching them we were informed they were down scaling their portfolio."

You can understand the position of Phoenix here, because they already have an extensive portfolio of brands and they also want to maintain a high level of service to all stakeholders, so something's gotta give. 

There's plenty of others distributors however, so why do we have a brewery that is producing outstanding beer in New Zealand and want to expand into the west island struggling to find an avenue in to the country?

So why hasn't someone picked up this brand? This is a genuine question. Is there a reason why? It doesn't really make sense to me.

Excellent quality beer, a strong interest in exporting here, a growing market. Where am I going wrong here?

I'm happy to look ignorant, I do it frequently!

Comment here or shoot me an email at if you've got some information that might shed some light on it for me. 

Better still, if you're a distributor let's get you on to Martin and we'll work something out!

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