“I am really excited to win this title and the chance to go on and represent New Zealand in such a prestigious competition” says Avril, “I will be practicing a lot in the next three months to ensure I give it my absolute best against the bartenders from countries around the world.”
The Stella Artois Draught Masters competition has been running for 12 years and attracts around 36 different countries.
The judging panel this year included Kirsty McLean, New Zealand Stella Artois Draught Master of 2008, Nigel King, Stella Artois Marketing Manager, Geoff Griggs, Beer Critic, and Beverly Ward, Lion Nathan National Microbiologist. Judging from behind the bar were Laura Smith and Peter Krafft from Lion Nathan’s Quality Assurance team.
It’s not your average message in a bottle, but its contents got the noses and palates of Blenheim’s beer boffins mildly aroused.
But somebody, for whatever reason, discarded a bottle of the amber fluid on the Wairau Hospital grounds presumably decades ago. During excavations for the hospital redevelopment the bottle was found one and a half metres underground by excavator Owen Kennedy of Simcox Construction.
The Marlborough Express asked our beer expert Geoff Griggs for his opinion on the bottle’s age and viability.
“It might taste OK,” he said. “After all beer, like wine, should be cellared at a cool, even temperature, away from light.” The bottle was embossed with the ABC logo, the Auckland Bottle Company which had bottled beer since the early 1920s. Mr Griggs suggested a tasting might be in order so enlisted the help of the brewers from Renaissance Brewery.
But exposure to the air may have been too much for the old bottle, as the fizz was now gone. Peeling the corroded cap off, Mr Griggs noted the carbonation had already evaporated through a rusty hole. “I’ve got an idea this isn’t going to be pleasant.”
First impressions of the brew drew comments from Mr Griggs like, “some sherry quality”, “like chewing on cardboard”. Brewer Andy Dewchars’ verdict? “Not particularly pleasant but not terrible.”
It’s a sad fact that one of this country’s most highly awarded beers of recent times, Epic Pale Ale, is available from just 250 outlets. Soon, however, that number is set to quadruple to around 1000; but it won’t be Kiwis benefiting.