They started brewing excellent beer under the Cassels & Sons label a few years ago; we bought from them at the Lyttelton Farmers Market. Pre-quake, they started work converting an old brick tannery and industrial buildings in Woolston into a brewpub. The September and February quakes set things back a bit:
They opened a couple of weeks after the June earthquake with some of the best beer in town and the best fries I've had since moving to New Zealand... honestly, the only fries that come close are the ones the women in the kitchen at the Hutterite Colony near our old family farm would hand us kids when we'd come round to buy milk.The tannery complex itself took a bashing during the earthquake. Alasdair has been restoring the buildings since he bought the 7000sqm site 17 years ago, but, since the earthquake, the cost of the project has skyrocketed."All the bricks have to be taken down and put back up again. It's a big job, a huge job" - one that comes with a $10-million bill, which Alasdair is prepared to pay. He has big plans for the area, including a brew pub - The Brewery.The brew pub's construction was in full swing before the quake, in the 1870s building that was once the tannery's drying room. Well-known chefs were to create magic using wood-fired stoves, in full view of restaurant patrons, with a pint of Cassels & Sons beer in hand. The old English pub was to open on to a large beer garden, a replica of the one shown on the site's original plans. However, the building did not fare well in the February earthquake and the project was shifted. The Brewery has been rebuilt inside a 1970s building at the Garlands Rd end of the development, which luckily had not yet been cleared for the garden.
And now they're developing the rest of the site for retail - an Arts Centre for the east side of town.
And they've now secured more tenants. I love seeing things like this coming up; it's a wonderful contrast to the flattening of downtown."We were always going to take this next step, but having this hospitality business here underwrites that the area can attract people," he said."I think retail will go well, there's very little around here and we've already had interest from tenants."At over a third of a hectare, the shopping centre will be the size of Merivale Mall, minus the supermarket and Quinns store. Cassels hopes the first shops will be open by June.He believed the increased need for suburban venues after the earthquakes helped the project get council consentThe September and February quakes damaged an 1870s tannery building Cassels had just restored for a new English pub on the site, destroyed the brewing plant and closed all the outlets stocking its beer.The family picked up half a million bricks, got the brewery back in business, and built a restaurant and bar in a newer building to sell their product.The project earned them a heritage award from the Christchurch Civic Trust in November.To create the shopping centre Cassels will strengthen more of the old tannery buildings, renovating them in a Victorian style to make the most of original industrial features. Insurance proceeds will help fund the development.The complex, to be known as The Tannery, will include an artists-in-residence studio for arts students, paid for by an anonymous North Island benefactor.Cassels said the right mix of tenants would help attract patrons from across the city.
Cassels' milk stout is excellent but only available at the pub - it apparently doesn't hold up in bottles. Other favourites are Medicinal and The Alchemist.