Saturday, August 9, 2008

Townshend’s Brewery Rosedale, Upper Moutere

In May I was in the Nelson region judging at the New Zealand International Beer Awards. While I was down there Sarah, Craig Bowen and myself visited the Townshend real ale Brewery and Cider Press, undoubtedly the most farmhouse brewery I have ever visited, and promised to write a piece on it on my return. Stupidly I left my camera at the hotel and as a result took photos on Sarah’s cell phone; Luddite that I am it has taken me until now to work out how to download them.

Townshend Brewery is situated in Rosedale, a rural area outside of Nelson. The brewery is the work of English ex-pat Martin Townshend and is situated next to his family home tucked away in a wooded valley. The brewery fits into an eclectic mix of businesses the Townshends run which stretches from running the village chippie to raising seedlings. In addition to the fantastic spontaneously fermented cider that Martin ferments each year the brewery produces a range of English style real ales and a continental style wheat beer. The brewery is housed in a shed to the side of the house, with fermentation occurring in an old commercial chiller unit. Bottling and cellaring occur in a shipping container down the bank.

Martin's beers are all session beers designed for draught consumption, however with the change in ownership of the Prince Albert there is no outlet at present that will take his beers in cask conditioned form. Accordingly all the beers are presented bottle conditioned and in large part thanks to Craig Bowen's distribution are available in certain outlets. The tasting notes below are for the beers I was given for review and from those that are on sale at Island Bay New World (good old Maurice). The most notable omission is for the No 9 Stout which took out the Stouts and Porters Class at the NZIBA this year. I tasted it at judging and it was superb, however I don’t remember enough to rehash a tasting note.

Its an interesting and I think positive development in the NZ beer scene that truly small breweries like Townshends are opening up and finding a place in the market.

Cheers Martin!

Cathcarts NTA 3.8%avb

Pours a hazy burnished gold with a thick creamy head. Aroma features berryfruit, red apple, and a sweet rich crystal malt note. On the palate the over all impression is of a fruity, malty character. Red apple, and berries are joined by plum, and caramel leading to a balanced dry finish. Good stuff.

Dinner Ale 3.8%abv

Pours a deep copper with a slight haze. Aroma features crystal malt, restrained earthy hops, a touch of wood and a hint of apple fruit. On the palate there is sweet nutty malt, berry fruit, citrusy hops and a medium bitter finish. Perhaps a little more subdued than the description suggests, decent session beer that could probably use the dial being turned up a touch.

Weston’s Best 5%abv

Pours a clear deep amber with a creamy ’soft’ head. Aroma features earthy zesty hops, a hint of red apple and a nutty bready note. On the palate there is rich nutty malt, a little like whole grain, a powdery chocolate note, a slight stewed malt character, a touch of astringency leading to a firm bitter finish. Smart ESB, with only perhaps a little bit of malt astringency letting it down.

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