Editorial: Winter 2010

NickKia Ora, and welcome to another bumper edition.

The past weeks have featured several high profile beer and food matching events and no, I am not referring to the Monteith’s Wild Food Challenge in this category.
Two of the most notable have been the ‘Great Emerson’s Degustation Charity Dinner’ at Logan Brown in Wellington and Bruce Holloway’s ‘Grain versus Grape’ face-off at House Bar in Hamilton. The annual upcoming Wellington on a Plate festival features a similar take to the latter in ‘Beer Takes it to Wine – The Tussle for the Table’, where American brewer Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery, over from the USA for Beervana, will MC the evening. Sadly, for anyone wishing to attend this event on 24th August, it is already sold out, proving just how intense the interest has become in tasting quality beer with good food.

As consumers we should be especially grateful to those entrepreneurs in the hospitality business that have recognised a growth market in the form of craft beer and those that prepare a quality meal to accompany it. In the Wellington market, which I am most familiar with, special mention should be made of the likes of Colin Mallon of the Malthouse, Dominic Kelly of Hashigo Zake and James Henderson of Bar Edward who have been forward thinking, not to mention risk taking, in their commitment to promoting an exciting range craft beer styles from New Zealand and further afield.

The domino effect created by these guys now means that restaurant market has also begun embracing the opportunity to offer fine beer alongside wines on their menus. Two great examples, both on Marjoribanks Street, are Ambeli, where the domestic range includes Invercargill, Epic, Croucher and Three Boys, and Ortega Fish Shack which offers a choice of Founders, Tuatara, Emerson’s, Three Boys, Galbraith’s, 8-Wired, Epic, Harrington’s and Renaissance.

Another outlet which appears to have taken a leap of faith, although quite possibly in the wrong direction, is Foxglove on the waterfront. Pack, the Aucklandbased pubco company, said it had spent ‘well in excess of a million dollars’ refitting the former Loaded Hog, resulting in a kitsch new ‘Narnia-style’ lounge bar and restaurant. Sadly, the group have totally failed to recognise the discerning nature of the local Wellington beer consumer, with no independent Kiwi craft beer on sale from tap or bottle whatsoever, meaning that the opportunity to match food from an enticing menu with an interesting, flavoursome beer, is almost non-existent.

National Homebrew Competition 2010

This year’s National Homebrew Competition will be held in October – entries will be accepted from 1st22nd October, with judging taking place over the weekend of 30th October at the Ruakura Campus Club in Hamilton. The judging lineup is the best the NHC has ever seen:

  • Graeme Mahy – World Beer Cup judge, one of New Zealand’s most experienced brewers, and a former NHC champion himself!
  • Geoff Griggs – Another World Beer Cup Judge, SOBA president, beer writer, tasting guru, and all round legend.
  • Steve Plowman – Brewing’s ‘Nature Boy’, creator of Maximus Humulus Lupulus, and the man behind Hallertau
  • Ben Middlemiss – A piece of New Zealand brewing history. What Ben doesn’t know about beer isn’t worth knowing. Brewer of THREE beers in Michael Jackson’s top 500. Not a bad effort that! Currently brewing for the New Zealand Natural Brewing Company.
  • Albrecht von Walmoden – Home and commercial brewing legend, brewing consultant, and possessor of a palate tuned with German precision.
  • Kieran Haslett-Moore – Home, and now commercial brewer, epicure, Regional Wines and Spirits’ ‘beer guy’, and previous BeerNZ and Nelson Beer Awards judge.

The website for the competition should be online by the time this newsletter goes to press, and will explain the rules and how to enter. At the time of going to press, prizes are still being finalised but once again the overall Champion Beer will be brewed commercially at Hallertau (subject to some small conditions). Last year’s beer was the Coconut Porter which was voted Best Beer at the
SOBA Matariki Beer Festival. Flyers advertising the event will be available in local homebrew shops soon.

Nick Page, Editor

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