The story behind Hop Federation is one that’s easy to relate to: moving from the stress of the city to the idyllic countryside; turning a passion into a livelihood; producing something that’s an expression of traditional craft and creative innovation; and spending more time as a family.
In 2013, Simon and Nicki Nicholas left their high-pressure Auckland life behind and, with daughter Lily, moved to rural Riwaka, in the heart of the Tasman District’s hop-growing region. In September that year, Hop Federation opened its doors, a small craft brewery with an initial offering of four stylish ales.
Simon is chief brewer, with a wealth of experience gained as head brewer at Hallertau in Auckland after a long background in the liquor industry, mostly with Glengarry Wines. As you’d expect in a brewer, he has a great sense of smell, finely tuned taste buds and a passion for experimenting, all of which he combines with a commitment to consistency and an appreciation of the traditions of craft brewing.
Nicki is in charge of marketing and sales, and she and Simon run the business jointly. Her background in HR and recruitment make Hop Federation very customer focused. Nicki wants to encourage people to try and learn more about craft beers, and she’s often found behind the counter in the tasting room chatting with customers.
In the three years since opening the doors, Simon and Nicki Nicholas have been joined by three beer enthusiasts to make up the rest of the Hop Federation Team. Joining in November 2014 Gareth – a self-confessed home brewer with an IT background – added a new dimension to the team. His knowledge and enthusiasm of all beer varieties makes him an interesting chap to chat to in the tasting room.
In addition to Gareth, Dean joined the team in July 2015. He is a passionate home brewer with interesting thoughts about English ales and has only recently been converted to drinking Hop Forward beers. Setting his sights on becoming a commercial craft brewer you will often see him working in the brewery alongside Simon.
Finally, we have Jonas, who joined us in October 2015. You will most likely meet him in the tasting room, where he is happiest talking with tourists and locals alike about our beers. He too is an enthusiastic home brewer that has a passion for brewing German style beers.