Kiwi Brewer Takes Tea to Blighty
Wellington contract brewer Yeastie Boys is taking tea to England. Yeastie’s Gunnamatta, an IPA made with Earl Grey tea, will be brewed at Adnams Brewery in East Anglia with UK Brewer of the Year Fergus Fitzgerald. The special batch will be sold as part of the JD Wetherspoon pub chain’s real ale festival. Easily the biggest batch Yeasties has ever produced, it will be available in 850 JD Wetherspoon pubs around England during April. Yeastie’s Stu McKinlay says working with Adnams and brewing on an industrial scale are dreams come true. So all up top effort for the Empire – conceived in New Zealand, named after a town in Australia, made in England, and using tea from India. Maybe.
Kiwi Brewers Take Beer to Blighty
In another southern invasion, Renaissance Brewing launched in the UK at the Craft Beer Rising Festival in London in February. The New Zealand Champion Brewery is concentrating on increasing its exports to the UK this year, in an excellent example of a successful exporting Marlborough brewery.
Zinzan Makes Beer in Blighty
And even former All Black Zinzan Brooke is targeting the UK beer market, with Zinzan’s Drop, a 4% black bitter produced by Windsor & Eaton Brewery in England. The beer is being produced to coincide with the Six Nations rugby union championship.
Craft Brewing Pioneer Changes Hands
Twenty five years ago Sunshine Brewery launched in Gisborne with the slogan, ‘brew a better beer and the world will beat a path to your door’. Geoff Logan and Gerry Maude took a big chance – they had few craft beer competitors, and very few retail outlets with the ability to sell products from independent brewers. In the 1990s Sunshine Brewery teamed up with Wellington’s fellow independents Regional Wines and Spirits and Bar Bodega and started the Craft Beer Capital boom. The result was that more than half of Sunshine’s production was consumed in Wellington. Flagship lager Gisborne Gold was joined by Gisborne Green pilsner and Black Magic Stout, which won international praise from beer writer Michael Jackson. Sunshine Brewery has been bought by a consortium of Gisborne wine and liquor businesspeople, and brewer Richard Mulligan stays on board.
From The Malthouse to The North End
On the 4th of August 2006 I was one of a group of passionate beer lovers who met to form a beer consumer group loosely based on Britain’s CAMRA. We drafted a loose plan and started what has grown into an organization I’m proud of – SOBA. Now on the eve of the construction of my new brewery I think back to that meeting and ponder how far we have come.
Present at the meeting were people who have gone on to take large roles in the craft beer industry. Stu McKinlay was homebrewing and was yet to launch Yeastie Boys on the world; Grieg McGill would form Brewaucracy Brewing Co after years of service to SOBA; Luke Nicholas was already on to the top of New Zealand craft brewing. Also present was beer raconteur Neil Miller, Fraser McInnes of Bodega and Tuatara, Nick Yeoman from the Hamilton Wine Co, Ari and Colin Mallon from The Malthouse and Brendon McKenzie of Revolution Brewing.
I was a homebrewer, cheesemonger, drinker and beer fanatic who went on to take up New Zealand’s first dedicated craft beer retail position at Regional Wines and Spirits. I would never have believed I would one day be a partner in a brewing company, but I did dream it.
North End Brewing Co is my fledgling baby. If everything goes to plan by next summer we will be an operating 1200L brewery at Waikanae Village on the Kapiti Coast, to be followed by a brewpub, cellar door and BBQ restaurant operation in the New Year. The project has been 3 years in the making, with the last year being spent operating as a contract brewer developing our recipes and brand by using other peoples breweries. We have earned a medal at the BGNZ Awards, and developed a following on the Kapiti Coast and in Wellington.
We have a long way to go before we can sit down to a feed of short rib and ESB in the barrel room but we will get there and when we do I will think back to that night at The Malthouse,
Invercargill Brewery Move
Invercargill Brewery has completed its move to new premises. Head Brewer Steve Nally said council sign-off on the refurbished engineering workshop came just before Christmas, with the retail Cellar Door opening on December 17 the first in a three month transition. “It’s certainly not the ideal time to move – but then, when is?”
Invercargill Brewery reached capacity in its former Wood Street site, capping production in February 2013. “We’re excited that we’ll have the space now to experiment with new brews.” Just as the building itself is a refurbished engineering workshop with 100-years of history; the new 2500l brew kit is made of recycled and reused materials, and is scalable to 3,000,000 litres.
The planned mid-year move was delayed by an interesting interpretation of the new fire regulations. “Our architect Roger Beattie went back to the drawing board three times before everyone was satisfied, and it’s a real tribute to him and the guys at Arrow International who managed the project that when we did finally get the green light it came in on budget and just one week late. We’re really rapt with the whole thing. Now all we have to do is make beer!”
The first beers from Invercargill Brewery’s new 72 Leet Street premises will be out in March. The off-license has 20 taps (17 for beer, three for wine), with no plans yet for an on-license.
Beer Patriarch Offers Challenge to Craft Brewers
Geoff Griggs, New Zealand’s oldest beer writer, challenged the craft brewing industry to lift its game in his last column for 2013. Writing for the Marlborough Express and reproduced at Stuff.co.nz, Griggs warned that inconsistent quality risked giving craft brewing a bad name and called on brewers to improve. “There’s far too much faulted, inconsistent and aged beer being sold. While our best craft brewers have robust quality control systems and can be relied upon to supply high quality fresh beer, others are guilty of releasing products that are just not up to scratch. A few produce consistently faulted beer and shouldn’t be in business. The bottom line is there’s too much dodgy beer finding its way onto the market. Beer that’s either oxidised (aged), varies enormously from batch to batch, or exhibits other technical faults. That’s not good enough; such beer brings the entire industry into disrepute.”
Griggs also said bars and restaurants needed to work on clean beer lines and train staff in presentation and basic beer knowledge. Geoff Griggs was recognised by SOBA for his services to craft beer and beer writing in the 2013 SOBA Awards – see inside for details.
Hashigo Zake Staff Graduation
Wellington Cult Beer Bar Hashigo Zake is developing a role as a craft beer academy. Two long-serving bar staff left the bar last January to move into other roles in hospitality. Shigeo ‘Shiggy’ Takagi effectively came with the building – he had worked for the site’s previous tenant where he was a sake specialist, cocktail maker and flare bartender. Who knew? Shiggy’s growing beer passions drove him to become a cofounder of Funk Estate Brewing, and he is now to become a co-owner in the new San Fran venue in Wellington. Sam Whitney was a chef before he joined Hashigo where he developed an interest in beer and food matching. His homebrewing is pretty good too and has earned him the assistant brewer role at Upper Hutt’s Panhead Brewery.
Brewery With No Beer
Garage Project has been going through some big changes over summer, with upgrades to many parts of its business. A new brewhouse will be arriving ready for installation by mid-March, which will mean Garage Project can double its brew length. The supplier of the original brewery, Premier Stainless, is also responsible for the upgrade, with this version to be in a three vessel configuration with a dedicated whirlpool.
Garage Project’s popularity has grown to a point that during early February, it ran out of beer at its cellar door. It’s hoped the new brewery can mean the Wellington brewery can not only keep up with the growing demand, but be able to continue producing new and different beers, while maintaining a steady supply of the most popular brews. As part of the upgrade, a new cellar and packaging area will also be built.
Logan Brown Spinoff Offers Beer and Food Matching
Grill Meats Beer is a new grill restaurant on Wellington’s Cuba Street, and is being launched by Logan Brown restaurant’s Steve Logan and Kristan Mulcahy. The grill will specialise in matching meat, seafood and vegetables with craft beers.
Black Box of Black IPA
The Enforcer, Baylands Black IPA is being brewed as 20ltr wort packs, complete with dry hopping schedule and yeast, ready to take away and brew. The concept of wort packs is a great idea, especially for a beer that home brewers already like.
To extend on this further, Aidan passed on a 20ltr cube of Enforcer Black IPA for me to ferment. Now these cubes are popping up all over the place, and are a great way to get some great beer into the hands of the home brewer. I first saw these cubes being used by Australian home brewers a couple of years ago, as it provides a way to cool wort in areas where strict water restrictions are in place. The wort is good for up to a year, so it is an ideal way to stock up wort to ferment later.
Aidan provided clear instructions, along with the yeast and hops for dry hopping. So simple in fact that this brew was fermented at work, filling the temperature controlled server room with the unmistakeable aroma of an imminent beer tasting session!
Anybody who has enjoyed an Enforcer Black IPA on tap can easily pick up one of these kits and in no time have the same beer pouring from the comfort of their cave. This can only be a good thing, home brewers share the beers they have made and this introduction of a new beer, that can also be found on tap at the bars, spreads the word about the beer, and bridges the gap between trying a craft beer or sticking to your regular.