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.