Cheers ... Scotts Brewing Co owners Phil and Tyla Scott were thrilled to win overall business of the year and best hospitality business of the year at the Oamaru Business Collective Awards. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Scotts Brewing Co has come a long way since 2013.

For owners Phil and Tyla Scott, it has finally become the place they always knew it could be.

When Mr and Mrs Scott moved their brewery from Auckland to Oamaru in 2013, they had big plans.

But every new development came at a cost, and they just had to take it one step at a time.

The first step was getting the 2500-litre production brewery up and running, and the second was opening a small taproom to the public. Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength – with the introduction of an outdoor decking area and beer garden, the development of a comprehensive food menu, and an expansion of the indoor area.

Luckily, the Oamaru community had been behind them the whole way, Mrs Scott said.

At the inaugural Oamaru Business Collective Awards on Saturday night, Scotts Brewing Co won overall business of the year, best hospitality business of the year, and staff member Emiliana Seltzer was runner-up customer service personality of the year.

“It was really huge honour to be recognised,” Mrs Scott said.

“I think more than anything it was really nice to have a night out with some of the crew.”

The Scotts Brewing Co story started in Auckland in 2005, when Mr Scott was diagnosed with coeliacs disease. Not able to face a future without beer, he converted his garage to a mini brewery, and taught himself to brew a gluten-free beer, without the traditional grains.

From there, they opened a brewery in a factory in Auckland and lived in an apartment upstairs.

Scotts Brewing Co very nearly never made it to Oamaru. When Mr and Mrs Scott were first looking at moving out of Auckland to expand, they also looked at Tauranga and the North Shore.

“I was pretty set on Tauranga,” Mrs Scott said.

But they could not find anywhere in the North Island that offered the same sort of space that Oamaru did – and the North Otago town was special, as their hometown.

First, they looked at the Presence on Harbour building in Harbour St. When it turned out to be unavailable, they had a look around the old railway goods shed in Wansbeck St.

“We were like, ‘Oh no, that’s way too big – we couldn’t possibly fill it up’,” she said.

But standing outside the building on a sunny Sunday and watching tourists wandering around the Oamaru harbour and Victorian precinct area, they could see the potential, Mr Scott said.

So they took it on and eight years later it is bursting at the seams and they are looking at ways to expand.

Moving to Speight’s country, Mr and Mrs Scott knew they had their work cut out for them to get locals into craft beer. Their ethos had always been about brewing approachable beer, and that had been key to their success in Oamaru.

“People like to try different beers, but sometimes beers can be intimidating,” Mrs Scott said.

“So our main jam is making beers you are so welcome to try and they won’t freak you out.”

The first four beers they brewed in Oamaru were Nineteen 05, Vienna, B10, and Boulder – and that was their core range for the first couple of years.

Now, Scotts has about 18 different beers but Nineteen 05 remained the most popular.

“It’s about two for one, I reckon. It’s more popular by just about double than any other beer that we do,” Mrs Scott said.

It would always be a special beer for the brewery – it was their first to be brewed in Oamaru, and the first beer to be brewed commercially in the North Otago town since prohibition in 1905.

Covid-19 had presented more than a few challenges for Mr and Mrs Scott, but the brewery was busier than ever and they counted their blessings they made the move to Oamaru, they said.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do everything we’ve been able to do anywhere else in the country,” Mrs Scott said.

“Oamaru is really special to us.”

Mr and Mrs Scott were proud of what they had created in Oamaru over the past eight years- the business, the social aspect of bringing the community together in a great location and their team of staff.

At present, about 35 people – across the office, brewery floor, kitchen and front-of-house – are employed at the brewery. Over summer, there would be about 50 people on the pay-roll, as several casual staff are brought on to meet the demand.