Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. This week he talks to Andrew Childs, founder of Behemoth Brewing.
You’ll know the beer that’s made by our guest this week. Andrew Childs, founder of Behemoth Brewing, was a lawyer in Wellington, changed his career, navigated a bunch of setbacks, and grew his brand to where it is today.
Behemoth Brewing is now preparing to launch an equity crowdfunding campaign to build their new brewery. Currently being built on the corner of Dominion Road and Charles Street, the brewery will also have a restaurant and butchery run by Andrew’s wife and co-force in the business, Hannah Miller.
To chat the journey, equity crowdfunding and of course, beer, Andrew joins us now.
You weren’t always a brewer in Auckland. Tell me how you got into law in Wellington and what got you out of it?
What got me into law is I probably read too many John Grisham books and I liked to argue! But I grew up in Miramar in Wellington and went to Vic Uni… and when I got about 80% of the way through law school, [I realised] I liked some parts of it and some parts I didn’t. But I’m stubborn so I finished up, became a barrister and solicitor at the High Court of New Zealand, and did legal policy for IRD and ACC – everyone’s favourite government departments.
I got into beer… well, I started collecting beer mugs when I was around 11. I didn’t drink then obviously, but there was something about the culture around beer in New Zealand that I really liked. I was fascinated. I wrote papers on alcohol at secondary school that got really good marks. So much so that my teacher wanted to keep it as a reference for his own booze collection. I don’t know, there was always something about it.
[But the real inspiration dates back] to when I was drinking jugs of Tui at Vic Uni for five bucks a pint and the East Side Pool Club at the time. I still didn’t think it was good beer, but it was cheap and I was 18, 19-years-old… but then I got into it by drinking trays of Tuatara. They were incredibly cheap [and] we were able to try five or six different beers that we’d never tried before. That was one of my ‘wow, this is what beer can be like’ kind of moments.
In terms of how I got into brewing and out of law, I was working at either the ACC or the IRD and I saw someone who was doing the same job as me. They’d been doing it for ten years longer and maybe they were earning a little bit more than me. I kind of froze and thought: ‘If I stay here, this is what I’m going to be doing in ten years time’. That kind of scared the bejeebus out of me.
Before that, I’d just started homebrewing.. and I started spending all my spare time researching and learning more about beer and brewing. I got really into it and at some point, I decided I wanted to quit my law job and get some brewing experience. So I quit my job and started working at Fork & Brewer which had just opened in Wellington. They hadn’t actually started brewing at the time but I took a really a big pay cut and just focused on that.
So that’s where it started out and a lot of things have happened since then. But it was one of those things where I thought: ‘If I don’t do it now, I’m never going to do it’.
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