September 2018

This month was a huge month! We got our mojo back, flew down to Nelson for the Annual Brewers Guild awards, took a few home. Bottled our new Dubbel, launched 802 #11, and put down a solid collab ‘brew-t.’

Lets get into it…

…but first I must apologise, I missed posting this at the beginning of the month. I kinda forgot…ah well…


This beloved beer of ours is a tricky one to make. To get the aromatics, flavour and the bitterness just right is a huge challenge. This years hops are a bit different then last seasons. We have noticed a slight shift from ripe tropical fruits, to more intense citrus, clementine and papaya. The hops are a hint more grassy too. All around still an outstanding beer as far as we are concerned, but you might notice a slight change.

Some breweries have extensive tasting panels and do multiple trials with different hop combinations, they do this to pick a flavour profile that suits their beers. We don’t have that. Then irregardless of the hops they use, they just find the flavour and aroma combinations that they want and make the ratios that work. Likely you can find some cost effective ones as substitutes. A worthy exercise if you have the ability to do that much trial work.

So we had a bit of a window last month of no stock till we were able to get the profile corrected. I alluded to that in last months blog. We are pretty happy with it now. Then we just did double batch after double batch after double batch trying to get some stock. Your thirst for this beer is making that rather tricky as our new supplies run out as fast as we can make them. All our beers are back in stock and we have a heap of new stuff coming out. Lots of exciting beers.



The Annual General Meeting of the NZ Brewers Guild was held the day before the NZ Brewers Guild Awards.

I believe this years was the shortest meeting on record. Surprisingly no one had anything to say. It was just a run through last years minutes, then accept the nominations to the board. Not a peep from anyone. I kinda figured someone would jump up and want to have a go…but nothing…

With a room of silence I was accepted to be a member of the brewers guild board. A huge honour to be able to be part of it. I hope I can contribute in positive meaningful ways.

This year they wanted to have an even split between representation of small, medium and large. Coincidentally that is exactly how it’s transpired. Three men, from each size brewery, small-medium-large, nine total, with an Executive Director and an Administrator.

The idea of balance was an attempt at being democratic. The odd thing is that doesn’t really make it balanced in brewery representation. If we take a look, the largest segment of NZ breweries as members, is in the Medium size, followed by small and then just a dozen breweries make up the large. So if were to be totally PC, it would be 2 members from small breweries, 6 from medium and 1 from large.

As I understand, quite a few brewers read these ramblings. Please know that you can contact me any time about issues or concerns. After all its about all of us brewers and our breweries, and everyone should have a voice that’s heard. I am excited to get involved and see where we can take this.


Brewers Guild Awards

Well once again a year has gone by and it was time again to go to the awards ceremony. Last year the event was held at Wigram air field in Christchurch, this year it was held in sunny Nelson.

Last year I was in California sitting around a camp fire watching the Twitter feed. This year we had a table of the whole team. We flew down Thursday afternoon, grabbed dinner and some beers at the Freehouse, then called it an early night. The next day was spent the day at the Brewers Trade conference and seminars in Stoke. Silly me missed the memo about the bus, and had to take a cab back and forth a couple times. I didn’t find out till the end of the show there was a bus. Anyway a good showing of speakers.

Pete Slosberg of Pete’s wicked ales came as the guest of honour. An interesting pick. No offence to Pete, but he had a successful contract brand in the US in the 90’s, but he’s not necessarily that relevant now. He had a cool chart and told his story. He sold out for shit tons of cash. Good on him, he came across more of a business men then a signifnanct contributor to the over all industry. He had some decent beers, but it was his clever advertising campaign that helped him sell shit tons of beer. Nice guy, I believe he was one of the judges too. The more I think about it, he was the perfect guest. A contract brewer that sold out, as that would be a very popular dream for most, don’t you think?

The big night. Well, we fucking tied in points with Parrot Dog to win the champion medium sized brewery. They had one more gold then us, but one more bronze. Crazy eh? Exact same number of beers entered and medalled, just a different split in colours. Pretty much the same result last year. Happy, but bummed. Three golds. Turadh Saison, Black Rye Sour and Paradise. Six silvers and four bronze. We entered seventeen beers and got thirteen medals. Pretty proud of that. Oddly the beers that did very well last year didn’t do that well this year. Longboarder, Traders, Unknown Pleasures and Billycan got no medals. The beers were/are to our standard, but judging is hard and as I have said, it can be a bit of a crap shoot.

I have had a few people contact me about the Longboarder, how can a beer that trophied last year not even get a medal. Well after getting our notes back I found out why. That beer is a German Pilsner at heart, but it is late hopped with NZ hops. A true German Pilsner has noble hop character. So the brewers notes allow us to mention the different hops used so that it can be judged properly. For some reason the notes we included with our entry never made it the the judges run sheet so it was not medalled because of the lack of Noble hops. Having had a specific conversation about it when submitting our entries I was fucking gutted to find that out. Not sure what happened. Unfortunately there is no use crying over spilled milk. Hopefully next year the brewers notes will make their way to the judges sheets. I am sure we weren’t the only ones scratching our heads.

One other thing I am going to push for next year, is better balance of the numbers, with shifting the brewery size to better reflect the breweries. My suggestion for better balance below:

1-249,000 litres/year Small. (Currently 1-100,000L)

250,000-1 Million litres/year Medium. (Currently 100,001-2 Million/L)

1Million litres/yr  Large(currently 2mil+).

The way it sits, 70+% of breweries are in the Medium range. Its all semantics I guess, but if we want to show an accurate reflection of our industry that would be a good place to start.



Ok so some might say I like to ‘take the piss,’ a bit here, well I do. Sorry but I have a bit of fun with it. It makes for entertaining banter and is fuel for conversations, whether you agree or not.

So the latest craze that is sweeping the floors of breweries is the ‘Brut’ IPA. Originating just a handful of months ago from the Bay Area of San Fransisco, this new ‘style’ of IPA is becoming the beer of the moment. Created as a reaction to the sweet and cloudy beers on the rise, this brewery decided to make a bright and dry beer, nearly the antithesis of the haze craze. The beer is essentially a standard unfiltered IPA, without all the haze forming proteinous matter, but instead has an enzyme of amyloglucosidase added. If you feel like chopping up complex sugars like a little childs’ steak, that is the stuff. The enzyme breaks down the dextrins into small chains so the yeast tear through every last fermentable sugar leaving a beer that could be nearly carb-free. Yep, we’ll save that for another day. So when you add this to an IPA, you would get a bitter as fuck beer on its own. However if you use it with insanely late additions and a hearty dry hop, and pretty much no bitterness, then carb the fuck out of it, you have “brut.” IPA.

The beer sounds great…but the name…what the fuck!? That is a piss take. An actual piss take. Here is the story of Brut from the wine world, as that’s where is was taken from. The word brut being on the label of some pretty average sparkling wine.

Brut was the word that the French put on the labels of the cheap shit wine they were hocking to the brits back in the day, well I guess they still do, to all of us.

Well they thought it was shitty at the time. The French wine makers were getting refermentation in their bottles and they became fizzy. The French hated that, at the time. So they pawned it off on their channel sharing mates. Funny enough the French realised it was actually pretty cool, eventually. We know those two have a long standing tradition of love and affection for one another as countries. The French have this amazing skill of being able to insult people with the flick of the tongue and sometimes it takes you a few minutes to realise what just happened. Anyway the piss is that Brut means gross. Yep like gross, disgusting. But if you call it brut, like large and burly. It sounds cool right? Yet the real meaning is, its shit.

The real meaning of dry in French is Sec, or Au sec. Dry and almost Dry. Honestly a Sec IPA sounds cool, like a half baked friend after a surf just complemented your IPA. Sec bro. Au sec bro, well, even better.


A New Hope

So now that I had a fun poke at Brut IPA’s we ended up making one. Smiths Bar in Queenstown is hosting an event called Bar Wars. A battle of two bars and eight breweries/brands. Then the host bar gets to do the event. Four brewers team up to create a beer (IPA) for the challenge, may the best beer win. Chris from Smiths is our bar, so we teamed up with Behemoth, Altitude and Wilderness. Andrew and I will be brothers for life, Altitude is one of Queenstown’s own and Wilderness is one of the most exciting new brewers in the country.

I set it up so we could all have a good piece of the beer. We drew names out of a hat for,

Water/Style/Abv/Adjunct (Altitude)

Hops (Wilderness)

Yeast (McLeod’s)

Malt Bill (Behemoth)

Everyone submitted their choices and we brewed it this week. It is a hoppy Brut IPA with Kaffir Lime.



We added another bottle conditioned Belgian style ale to our Smugglers Bay series. After doing a Belgian Tripel, I wanted to do a Belgian Dubbel with the same yeast. It came out great, 1600 bottles. Rich bready maltiness on the nose and palette, with a smooth and drinkable body, hint of tartness on the finish. The 7.6% abv is well hidden in flavours of dried fruits and spice. Kegs are available now and cases will be out by the end of October.


West Coast IPA redux

I didn’t go into much detail on this but we pulled our West Coast IPA from the competition. The kegs we had here all tasted fine, and the beer had passed our in house post ferment tests.  I was fucking gutted to say the least, but we do our very best to only serve delicious beer. You deserve it.

Well when I get knocked down, I like to get right back up again. So we brewed it again. Lochaber, which is the name of a huge axe that is used to chop peoples heads off in old time Scotland. This beer has so many hops it could very well happen to you.

Just a 10Hl batch but it is super friggin’ hoppy and delicious. We would have been a contender for sure. (Rocky reference)

Grab it if you see it on tap as the kegs won’t last long. A classic West Coast IPA, hoppy bright and bitter, with a nice sweet malt cushion, I am sure Geoff Griggs would approve.


802 #11

The latest in the first NZ series of Fresh Unfiltered IPAs. This one is a match of Mosaic and Denali. Denali is the hop that currently holds the record for total oil content. It is resinous with huge pineapple on the nose, then we added Mosaic, which is one of the most friendly hops out there, it loves to play with others. Big round and soft pallet with bright white peach and tropical aromas, balanced bitterness. 6.4% abv Keg only, pre-sold. Get it while you can…#12 is already in the cue…


Love Bucket

We did a three day event at Lovebucket the last week of September. They paired up the beers with some crazy Asian inspired street food. We pulled out some gems to have on tap. Barrel Aged Red Sour, Oyster Gose, Turadh Saison, and Black Rye Sour. A very cool line up. They were all tasting great. Sadly we found out that the bar manger who has been there from day one is moving on. If you have ever seen Brandon in action, its pretty impressive. He is a true artist of the cocktail. He built an apothecary of tinctures, essences’ syrups, and crazy garnishes. Watching him work is impressive. An artist for sure. I am sure he will be missed. Good luck Brandon and thank for your support!

To be clear Love Bucket is still there and has a few little changes up their sleeve, watch that space 🙂

802 #11 Launch

Then we launched our 802 #11 at the Lumsden. You wouldn’t have known, as there wasn’t anything posted about it on the night. I don’t think the staff was even alert to it, but it was the first keg to be tapped in NZ. A busy Friday crowd as usual. That place heaves on a Friday afternoon. We are very happy to be able to work with the Freehouse group and all of their establishments.

In my opinion, I could have let it condition a few more days, I prefer to let the yeast flock out more and let it settle, but it tastes great. Look for it on taps now.

Please do not hold onto these kegs. We have seen a few of these beers show up on tap months later. These beers are meant to be consumed within a month from launch. They may taste good for six months, but they are super fresh. The hop flavour compounds do not stay in suspension for ever, that classic hazy appearance is an emulsion of hop flavours. Drink it now, don’t wait, we’ll make more…


Next Month

We launch 802 #12,  Bonnie 2018, Lochaber hits the taps, shit we might even start selling from our back bar off licence at the Pizza Barn (McLeods Restaurant), finally. We are back down in Wellies for a tap takeover at the Malthouse (finally!!!) then we are attending a charity event at Rouge and Vagabond with the Dominators, quite a few other juicy bits and then we close out the month with the launch of 802#12 at Galbriaths then some judging at the NHBC, and we brew lots more beers, even a Belgian Wit and more!



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