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Lee Fern Sprig & Fern Hardy St – Nelson Mail 04.10.16

th 2011, “once the lawyers got involved it took a few months to negotiate the sale even though we had agreed a deal in principle but it was important we had the paper work right and it turned out to be a great time to buy the business.” Today the Sprig & Fern brewery and master franchise is owned by Tracey & Ken Banner, Tracey was former brewer for Macs before Lion bought it and probably knows as much about beer and brewing as anyone in New Zealand. All of the Sprig & Fern bars are independently owned and Fern says “the key with the Sprigs is we are community focussed and last year our venue alone put over $30,000 back in to the community by running quiz nights, we run the quizzes every Wednesday for ten months of the year and each month we choose a different cause or group and they get to run raffles as well as getting the quiz entry fee, we run the quiz and they can do other fundraising around the quiz night.” These very popular quiz nights started almost eight years ago. “A local lady came in looking for a venue for an after party for her fundraiser. I figured we could help her with the fundraising too and since then we try to identify people in real need who are otherwise struggling to get help as opposed to only helping groups and registered charities”. “I am a big believer that if people come in to listen to the live music we have but don’t want to buy a meal or a drink it is reasonable for us to ask for a voluntary donation to support another cause I like, Big Brothers Big Sisters. “We welcome everyone here, they don’t need to drink every time they come in but if they are taking advantage of live music I feel they should make a donation of some sort and most people are very happy to do so.” Another thing that contributes to the success of the Sprig & Fern group is they have a good range of session beers that are packed with flavour but not big monsters that can be too heavy on the palate or stomach. The way people are drinking has changed too, “I think there is more money being spent in hospitality venues but there is a lot more choice than 20 years ago so the money is being spread around more, people are more discerning. “In the old days if you weren’t in the pub by 6pm there was something wrong, today the kids don’t come out until midnight, we don’t sell RTD’s, tequila or similar drinks and some people don’t like it but that is our point of difference, there will always be someone who doesn’t like what we offer.” “People are more informed and make better choices these days and that is a good thing, suppliers are reacting to it as well with lower alcohol options and drinks like cider and our alcoholic lemonade that tend to be closer to beer strength at around 4-5% alcohol rather than wine or spirit strength and then there are plenty of mid-strength, low and non-alcohol options.” “I also think young people are becoming more responsible, I see less pre-loading than I did three or four years ago and it is far better to have people drinking where there are sober people looking after them.” You can help celebrate the success of the Sprig & Fern in Hardy St on its 8th birthday, Fern is planning a party on the 28th October so put that date in your diary now.]]>

I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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