Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CT Column 15/09/2010 :Tiger Balm and oysters

LIKE any cultural movement or scene the craft beer industry has gone through a number of phases over the years.
Much like music historians can trace the lineage of modern rock back through punk, garage rock and 60s Brit pop to delta blues, blue grass and traditional British folk music, people like me can look back across the considerably shorter history of New Zealand craft beer and identify the ancestry.
The first wave of craft brewing started in 1981 when Terry McCashin set up MacCashin’s Brewery in Stoke. Through the 1980s other pioneers followed with Gisborne’s Sunshine Brewery and Taranaki’s White Cliff Brewery being among the few from that period that are still around.
The second wave of craft breweries took off from the mid 90s to the early 2000s and the list of names includes some of the biggest in the industry. Emerson’s, Tuatara, Invercargill Brewing Co and Founders all date from this period.
In fact Tuatara, Invercargill and Founders all celebrate their 10th birthday this year: a considerable achievement for any small business. Since then we have had Americans bring big beers to Blenheim (Renaissance), Brits bring real ale to Christchurch (The Twisted Hop), contract brewers bring art house concept brewing to everyone (Yeastie Boys) and a “mad” academic who decided oysters could be brewed (Three Boys Oyster Stout).
Founders have been brewing since 1999 although the Duncan family who own the brewery have been brewing in New Zealand since 1854. To mark the 10 year milestone they have brewed their first barrel aged beer.
Anniversary Stout is a 6%abv sweet stout that’s been partially aged in whiskey seasoned pinot barrels. The resulting beer has a big rich soft mocha backbone, Juicy Fruit (chewing gum) fruitiness and a hint of spice that reminded me of Tiger Balm.
The beer has a level of balance seldom seen in barrel aged beers and is perfect for an anniversary toast. It’s available from Regional Wines and Spirits.
Fans of Three Boys, Harrington’s and The Twisted Hop will be relieved to hear that the Christchurch brewers sustained minimal damage in the big earthquake.
Luck or divine intervention? Either way I think we can all drink to that.

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