Auckland beer Urbanaut has roots in New Zealand ‘malt country’

Every time you drink a New Zealand brewed beer, there’s a high chance the malt came from Marton.

The Rangitikei town is not only home to New Zealand’s largest malting factory, but also three entrepreneurs starting a brewing company in Auckland.

The Urbanaut team – Simon Watson, Thomas Rowe and Bruce Turner – are long-time friends from their years at Rangitikei College.

Last week, their craft beer made its Palmerston North debut at Brew Union.

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Kiwi pies and beers becoming popular in China

Kiwis are converting the Chinese to two of our own traditions – pies and craft beer.

Down a bustling side street in Jingan, Shanghai, former Christchurch brewer Fraser Kennedy is concocting craft beer recipes for the newly opened Goose Island Brew Pub, where he works as chief brewer.

Kennedy has been chief brewer since Belgium-owned AB Inv, the world’s largest brewing company, opened its first craft beer bar in Shanghai three months ago. Home to an estimated 24 million, Shanghai has about five craft beer bars, and Kennedy says the frothy brew is starting to take off.

Kennedy, who used to have his own beer label, Ad Lib, in Christchurch, says that Indian Pale Ales (IPAs) have been popular in China since last year, when the China’s president, Xi Jinping, sealed his “golden” friendship with UK Prime Minister David Cameron in an English pub, over a pint of Greene King IPA.

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Hops production in NZ slumps by 10 percent

The New Zealand Hops co-operative says its 18 growers, which are in the Nelson region, produced about 750 tonnes of hops, which was 33 tonnes less than the year before.

Chief executive Doug Donelan said the weather had not been right since spring.

“The growing season wasn’t very good. We had a cold summer and prior to that during the early stages it was a very wet spring. The two things you really don’t want when you’re growing hops.”

Mr Donelan said some varieties were hit harder than others.

“We were down 30 percent on some varieties, but overall it was probably down about 10 percent on the previous year… that came off increasing acreage so we actually had more plants in the ground and produced less hops.”

The co-operative is working to increase the production of hops and wants to grow total volume by 30 percent to about 1100 tonnes.

New Rangiora fillery an oasis in a craft beer desert


Dave Wilmott is bringing an oasis to the craft beer and cider desert of Rangiora.

Rangiora’s first craft beer and cider fillery, The Good Drop at 7 Durham St, will open on Wednesday after the store’s off-licence came through on Tuesday.

Customers can fill their own bottles – or use those provided – with their choice of a range of 20 craft beer and ciders.

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Brother’s Day beer

My plans for a Mother’s Day beer column went out the window when I realised today, May 6, was my brother’s birthday.

If you want a Mother’s Day column you can find one here:–beer but this year I’m going to do Brother’s Day.

Back in the early 1990s Tim and I were regular consumers of the Mac’s range, particular Black Mac, which was probably the most sophisticated set of beers you could regularly lay your hands in those days. But in 2004 Tim played a role in starting my craft beer journey. On a trip home from Australia, I visited him in Christchurch and he offered me a Monteith’s Summer Ale. It was the beer that woke me up to the wider flavour possibilities on offer in New Zealand and it seemed light years ahead of anything I was drinking in Australia.

Tim and his family now live in Perth, and I’m back here, so in the spirit of that Summer Ale awakening, I figured it was time to return the favour and give him a taste of what he’s missing in New Zealand.

Call it the birthday six-pack. I might even send him one, if he’s lucky.

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Cathay Pacific’s Betsy Beer is coming to New Zealand flights


Cathay Pacific’s unique craft beer – brewed to taste better at 35,000 feet – is coming to a flight near you.

The Hong Kong airline announced today that it plans to introduce its craft brew to flights between Hong Kong and New Zealand, as wells on services to Europe, Canada, the United States, Japan, and Tel Aviv.

Betsy Beer – named in honour of the airline’s first plane – was rolled out in March and April for business and first class passengers travelling between Hong Kong and Britain.
Created in a partnership with Hong Kong Beer Co, the ingredients include a lychee-like fruit and Hong Kong honey. (full article)

Hawke’s Bay winery turning its hand to craft beer


For the last few months the winery has had two new beverages for customers to sample, but instead of grapes this variety is flavoured with hops and malt.

The brewers of the Trinity Hill IPA and session ale beers are better known as the winery’s cellar master Sebastian Hanse and logistics and inventory manager Roy Kamphuis. (full story)

Amber liquid turns gold for Waipu brewery


Milton Mewett, Geoff Gwynne, Jason Bathgate and Clayton Gwynne, from Waipu’s McLeod’s Brewery, with their gold-medal-winning Tropical Cyclone Double IPA. Photo / Michael Cunningham

There’s a beer revolution going on at Waipu, with the owners of McLeod’s Brewery determined to change the drinking habits of the country into appreciating fine craft beer.

And the plan is already paying dividends, with McLeod’s Brewery coming away with three medals – including a gold – for its brews at the weekend’s prestigious New World Beer and Cider Awards.

The brewery won gold for its Tropical Cyclone Double India Pale Ale, which certainly tickled the tastebuds of the competition judges.

“Head brewer Jason Bathgate has worked wonders with the brews in the past year, and the Tropical Cyclone is right up there alongside New Zealand’s best double IPAs. [It has] huge tropical fruit aromas with the slightly musky, dank smell you get from ripe papaya. Great length, well balanced, clean and juicy,” were some of the comments from this year’s panel of independent judges. (full story)

Craft beer expert Michael Donaldson’s surprise as Epic Armageddon clinches coveted IPA trophy again


Craft beer expert Michael Donaldson chaired the judging of this year’s New World Beer & Cider Awards. The author of two books on New Zealand beer was surprised when Epic Armageddon won the coveted IPA trophy for the second year in a row.

Were you surprised when Epic Armageddon won Best IPA for the second year in a row?

I couldn’t believe it because the IPA class is so competitive. It’s a blind tasting so we don’t know who has won until afterwards. It’s also won the Brewers Guild awards twice in a row. It’s won in Sweden and Australia. It just keeps coming out on top.

Epic owner Luke Nicholas gets his hops from America. Is that unusual for a New Zealand brewer?

Yes. The majority of our brewers use local hops. There’s enough for everybody despite high demand. Luke uses US hops because he started out brewing American-style beers. They just have the flavour profile he’s after. Parrot Dog Pandemonium won Best Pilsner with Australian hops even though New Zealand pilsners are the thing at the moment for their tropical passionfruit aromas. (full story)

Auckland brewers rule at Beer and Cider Awards


The hoppy notes of India Pale Ale were one of the big winners at the Beer and Cider Awards this year. The other was Auckland.

The city is proving itself a beer powerhouse, with Auckland breweries taking out 10 of the 12 Champion awards for beers and ciders.

Judges blind-tested more than 500 beers and ciders to pick the winners of the awards, which are run by New World. Criteria for the winning tipples include drinkability, mouthfeel, balance and technical excellence.

Indian Pale Ale (IPA) is a favourite of craft brewers and the class was hotly contested this year. Judges sipped their way through more than 70 entries from 45 breweries from around the country, with Onehunga-based brewery Epic’s Armageddon IPA winning for the second year in a row. (full story)