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Bringing beer to the people

Brewer Ross McWhirter (right), with wife Lucy and their 20-month old son, Rufus. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

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Remember the good old days when milk came in glass bottles and was delivered to your doorstep?

Well, Ross McWhirter is planning to be Wairarapa’s newest milkman, but with a twist.

Instead of milk, Mr McWhirter will be delivering his Beg, Borrow & Brew range to the craft beer lovers in the region.

But with his third child on the way, he is a little way off from bringing this dream to fruition.

So today, he and his wife Lucy are opening the gate to their Norfolk Rd property so the public can purchase a taste.

From 4pm to 7pm, people can stop in for a chat and takeaway pre-filled 1.25Litre bottles, or have glass flagons and byo vessels filled with their beer of choice.

The couple moved to New Zealand from North Yorkshire, England, a decade ago.

Five years later, they settled in Wairarapa.

They have two children, Moon, 4, and Rufus, 20 months, and another due at Christmas.

Mr McWhirter’s longing for an English-style beer kickstarted his home-brewing journey seven years ago.

His sporadic hobby “became more of an obsessive thing” when he and his family moved into their rural Masterton home.

The previous owner was a furniture maker who moved a large workshop onto the property.

This workshop has since been converted into Mr McWhirter’s brewery.

He has been selling his beer for the past year to licenced premises, mainly in Wellington, but now that he has an off-licence he is able to distribute it to the average joe.

The name Beg, Borrow & Brew was inspired by his experience — begging time away from his family and borrowing and buying “bits and pieces” from other local winemakers and brewers to bring his vision to life.

Mr McWhirter recently began selling his range at the Wairarapa Farmers’ Market, outside the Farriers on Saturday mornings, and will be at Te Kairanga markets in Martinborough on the first Sunday of every month

during summer.

“What I’m planning on doing is what the old milkman would do,” he said.

“People will put their address on the bottle and I’ll pick them up, fill them up, and deliver them back again.”

His plan “in the pipeline” would make craft beer easily accessible to Wairarapa folk, especially those juggling young families, he said.

Masterton and Carterton would first be treated to the service, which would eventually expand into the region’s other main towns.

Rather than having a staple variety of beer, Mr McWhirter, a musician, prefers to keep things exciting.

“I just keep brewing new beers and experiment with them.

“I try keep it interesting for me and keep it interesting for the people drinking it as well.”

At the moment he is brewing a German-style wheat beer “but with a Kiwi twist” — he only uses New Zealand-grown hops and grain.

A French oak-aged barley wine was also in the mix, as was an organic pilsner, a red ale, a dark ale, and an organic low-alcohol beer.

He also has a “smash series”, which features a single grain and a single hop, with a Nelson Sauvin hop brew being debuted today.

Mrs McWhirter, who works part-time in Martinborough at Thunderpants, is in charge of the marketing and social media for Beg, Borrow & Brew, which can be found on Facebook (@begborrowbrew).

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