Kelly, 34, studied microbiology and food chemistry for years at Otago University, and has a post-grad degree in fermentation science. Inspired there by the late Professor Jean-Pierre Dufour from Belgium whose passion was “brewing, brewing and more brewing”, and who was an important part of the burgeoning microbrewery industry in New Zealand, Kelly believes JP’s legacy lives on in brewers like himself now experimenting with craft beer. It’s a creative process like wine or cheese-making, he insists, the brewer limited only by imagination. And there are 90 to 100 different beer styles with “infinite” flavour possibilities. Think outside of hops and malt, he adds, to truffles, grapes and cherries for natural acidity. Think chocolate, dark raspberry, chestnuts and different herbs like sage, caraway seed and crystallised ginger. “You can completely go crazy with your imagination.” And unlike vintners whose preoccupation is grapes, he adds, brewers can use any ingredient in the world. Kelly’s also an international beer judge who gets to go around the world sampling ale and bestowing awards on deserving brews. He’s been judging professionally for six years now and, yes, it’s “pretty cool”, although “you’ve got to trust the ol’ palate a bit”. He judged at the New Zealand Brewing Awards in Wellington back in August, and before that was in San Diego as part of an “elite panel” of judges in the 2012 Brewers Association World Beer Cup. Kelly, whose first job in the industry was at the Maingatainoka brewery made famous by the Tui adverts, has had stints seemingly everywhere — from the highlands of Scotland where he had his first foray into craft brewing , to England’s small Thornbridge Brewery in the heart of the Peak District National Park close to Bakewell. Kelly had worked the previous year at Auckland’s Epic Brewery Company — one of the top craft breweries in the country, with a reputation for smaller produce but flavour-filled beer.