most of this actually happened
Emerson’s was first brewed in August of 1985, producing a meagre four and a half litres on a stove in a kitchen by a young, excitable Richard Emerson.
Since then, Emerson's has grown to one of New Zealand's biggest craft breweries, producing millions of litres of beer every year and shipping it to every corner of the country.
1991 - BEFORE THE BEGINNING
The Emerson's story begins in ancient times, also known as the eighties. A young, impressionable Richard spent some time living in Edinburgh (sometimes referred to as the Dunedin of the north). He was fascinated by the culture – the pub culture that is – and soon took to it like a fish to water.
1992 - beg, borrow and stainless steel
The first stage of Richard's great masterplan was a labour of love. He spent three months fitting out the brewery before it could open for business. He did most of the design, construction and decorating himself. Every dollar was precious. So, he borrowed, restored and repurposed, wherever he could. Even modifying dairy vats for the brewhouse. There was one thing he didn't do that year – pay himself.
Richard spent a lot of time in his mother's kitchen. His favourite thing to cook was beer.
1993 - THE MOMENT OF TRUTH
After what seemed like an eternity to Richard, his first brew was ready to drink in January 1993. The London Porter was based on a recipe he picked up from a brewer buddy, while living in London. It was tested on the biochemistry department at Otago University, where Richard’s father George worked, and they gave it the thumbs up. To this day, it's still Emerson's flagship dark beer, although it's evolved a little over the years.
Despite being neither food or wine, Emerson's were invited to be a part of the Dunedin Food & Wine Festival
Monthly sales surpass 3,000 litres
1996 - A WATCHFUL EYE
George Emerson kept dropping by the brewery. Most people thought he was just popping in to taste the beer, a few times a day. But he later admitted he was actually trying to keep Richard brewing, instead of consuming.
1997 - meeting a legend
At the New Zealand Brewers Festival in 97, Richard was lucky enough to meet Michael Jackson (the esteemed beer writer, not the moonwalker). Jackson is credited with playing a big part in the emergence of craft brewing as we know it today, with his book 'The World Guide To Beer', and TV series 'The Beer Hunter'. He later wrote some kind words about Emerson's in the 1999 edition of 'Ultimate Beer'.
2000 - emerson's brewery 2.0
By the turn of the century, the brewery was overflowing (not literally). It was proving hard to keep up with demand for existing beers, not to mention the new ideas fermenting in Richard's mind. It was time for a big move. So, in May, the lease was signed on the building across the road - 9 Grange Street. In true emerson style, Richard spent his days brewing at number 4 and his evenings renovating at number 9. The new brewery was officially opened by Peter Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Dunedin North in November 2000.
monthly sales surpass 14,000 litres
In March of 2002, Richard's father George passed away. One year later, in memory of his father, Richard brewed Taieri George (a recipe his Dad liked). The beer is still released every year on George's birthday, so we can all raise a glass in his honour.
2003 - on the move again
By the end of 2003, it was clear that yet another move was required. After scouring Dunedin for almost a year, Richard found his new site at 14 Wickliffe Street. A whole 700m away.
2008 - Brewer's reserve
Richard wanted more opportunities to experiment with different beers, without distracting from the core range. So, in 2008, Brewer's Reserve was introduced. Since then, not only have we had a lot of fun trying a wide variety of flavours and styles, a number of brews have become firm favourite.
opening party by the numbers
1 mayor officiating
2 days partying
7 bands playing
700L beer consumed
Monthly sales surpass 28,500 litres
in late 2006,
Chris O'Leary made the move south from Limburg Brewing Co. to dunedin to become official piss-taker of Richard. He also started looking after production.
2012 - A new era
Lion purchased Emerson's in 2012. They kept Richard as Head Brewer, and vowed to keep the brewery in its hometown of Dunedin.
2014 - THE DREAM COMES TRUE
In October 2014, land was purchased on Anzac Avenue to build a brewery and taproom. It's something Richard had been dreaming of for almost thirty years. And now, thanks to Lion's investment, it was coming to life right here in Dunedin. Construction began in July 2015.
Brewnz Awards: Champion Brewery
Brewnz Awards Trophy Winner:
Regonal Best Bitter (colab with Regional Wines & Spirits)
Brewnz Awards Trophy Winner: Dinner Bell
2016 - Mini Bar
In the early days of the brewery, Richard used his old Mini to deliver beer. In February 2016 he decided it was time he had another one. So he went on a mission to Wellington, bought one, and drove it all the way back to Dunedin. Of course, he made a few modifications, and now calls it the "Mini Bar".