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Funk Estate rescued

Popular brewery Funk Estate will live on after distributor Brandhouse rescued the brand as part of the liquidation process.

The brewery went into liquidation in March.

Brandhouse rescued Blenheim brewery Renaissance from voluntary administration in 2018 and owner Jason Dellaca said the addition of Funk Estate was a perfect fit for the liquor distributor.

Brandhouse acquired all the Funk Estate intellectual property, including recipes and branding and will brew the beers at Renaissance.

Funk Estate, run by Jordan Evison, Dylan Shearer and Shigeo Takagi, started life in Wellington in 2012. They had a cult following in their early days, growing out of the Wellington home brew scene.

They moved to Auckland in late-2015 and then to Mt Maunganui, where they contract brewed and shared facilities at Mount Brewing’s Rising Tide brewpub.

Dellaca said the fact Funk Estate was a contract brewery made the buying decision easier.

“The difference for us compared with Renaissance is that these guys were contract brewing so there wasn’t a brewery to buy – it was a brand with an existing customer base.

“For us it was the perfect fit. We’d been looking at creating a second brand ourselves – targeted at that younger craft beer drinker.

“When this came up, it was exactly the brief we’d written for the one we were trying to create. It ticked the right boxes and we have capacity to brew it at Renaissance with the team we have there.”

Funk Estate’s strong reputation built on fruited, kettle sour beers meant Brandhouse didn’t have to do the “hard yards” of building a new brand from the ground up.

Dellaca said due diligence before the sale gave an insight into Funk Estate’s problems, which were applicable to other breweries in New Zealand.

“Their sales weren’t bad – in fact they were quite good. And they weren’t in decline either, they were still growing. The hardest thing for them – and this applies across the industry – is when someone is contract brewing and also paying someone to distribute the beer it squeezes that margin in the middle and you have to sell a whole lot more beer to cover costs.

“Their margin was significantly reduced in the middle.”

Dellaca hoped to replicate the success achieved with Renaissance, which has tripled production volume since being bought.

Funk Estate went into liquidation on March 19 owing around $140,000 to unsecured creditors and $150,000 to ANZ Bank. They are still technically in liquidation and the brand sale is just part of the process.

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