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image_1-editI’ve met a lot of incred­ibly nice brew­ers — brew­ers who have offered me their houses to stay in, giv­en me free beer, helped me home-brew. But for me the nicest brew­er is Stu McKin­lay of Yeast­ie Boys.

I tell this to Stu as we sit on Par­lia­ment lawn shar­ing a few beers. He smiles warmly, match­ing the Decem­ber sun­shine, and thanks me. Earli­er in the day Stu had donated a keg of Gun­na­matta (Yeastie’s top-selling beer) to the 2015 New Zea­l­and Beer Cal­en­dar fun­draiser for the Sexu­al Abuse Pre­ven­tion Net­work. This isn’t the first time he’s giv­en away his product to help oth­ers, even when he’s been in the middle of his own fin­an­cial crisis.

Do unto oth­ers. I was giv­en a Cath­ol­ic edu­ca­tion and, while I didn’t take any of the reli­gious stuff on board, that really stuck with me. It feeds into that karma thing too. Pay­ing it forward.”

2014 was a big year for Stu and his busi­ness part­ner Sam Posseniskie.

It kicked off with their beer being served in more than 900 UK pubs as part of the Wetherspoon’s Inter­na­tion­al Real Ale Fest­iv­al. Yeast­ie Boys’ Pot Kettle Black beat more than 400 beers from around the world to be crowned Cham­pi­on Beer at the Hong Kong Inter­na­tion­al Beer Awards. They launched a new logo, new bottle labels and a bunch of new beers, includ­ing the amaz­ing Spoon­bend­er series, made with botryt­ised Viog­ni­er candi sug­ar, and some new addi­tions to the reg­u­lar line-up. Stu also left his day job and began work­ing full time for the brew­ery in August.

But the biggest event of 2014 was the Yeast­ie Boys fun­drais­ing efforts. Once again, the arrow of time and the tyranny of dead­lines means this is writ­ten before the event and we don’t know the out­come of the invest­ment drive.

The idea is to grow the busi­ness in the UK, with oth­er New Zea­l­and brew­er­ies doing the same. While in Eng­land for the Real Ale Fest­iv­al, Stu and Sam scoped out a num­ber of places that could brew their beer. More beer sales will also mean that Stu hope­fully has more of a chance to brew at home again. While talk­ing about the excit­ing pro­spect of brew­ing in the UK, Stu can’t help but say how excited he is to be poten­tially work­ing with Ral­ph Bungard of Three Boys Brew­ery (one of the oth­er brew­er­ies hop­ing to break into the UK market).

He makes my favour­ite beer! Coconut Milk Stout. We were up for a Brew­ers Guild Award against it and all I could think was, ‘That’s my favour­ite beer, I kinda want it to win.’” Ser­i­ously, what a nice guy!