Tuesday, January 4, 2011

CT Column 5/01/11 : The Crystal Ball

At the end of each year beer writers like to reflect on the year that has been and wax lyrical about the beers that have excited them through the months: I did that back in December. Now that it’s January and the New Year headaches have eased I thought perhaps it would be worth writing a little about the year to come. In the interests of transparency I should add that I actually asked NZ craft brewers what they would be doing over the next year and I don’t in fact own a crystal ball!

Many of the brewers I talked to were incredibly loose lipped, far more so than I expected them to be. So in many ways you can view this first column of the year as a gossip column for Kiwi Craft Brewing!

First up Wellington based Yeastie Boys have some big things on the agenda this year. The most exciting is the establishment of a second permanent bottled beer to sit on the shelves next to Pot Kettle Black. Last year I was privileged to taste a test batch of what will be called Rex Attitude and it absolutely blew me away. Brewed against all brewing advice with 100% peated Islay distilling malt of the sort used to make single malt whiskey, most brewers will tell you that 15% should be an absolute maximum, fruity New Zealand hops and an American yeast strain ,its one of the most beguilingly complex yet approachable smoked beers I have ever had. There will definitely be a column devoted to this beer when it gets released.

Across the Cook Strait to Blenheim and 8 Wired’s Søren Erikson has some big plans for the coming year. He has inherited the oak barrels that Epic’s Luke Nicholas used to produce the Barrel Aged Armageddon and Thornbridge Stout. He currently has some Big Smoke Porter and a 13% Russian Imperial Stout aging in them which will be released this year. He also has plans for a 2%abv flavor packed session beer.

Also in Blenheim Renaissance have plans for a barleywine which will be a welcome addition to the New Zealand beer scene as it’s a style we have precious few examples of.

In Auckland Epic has provided a home to one of our most skilled and highly respected young brewers. When Kelly Ryan succumbed to the siren call of a Kiwi summer while brewing at the Thornbridge brewery in the north of England he didn’t have a job to come home to. There were concerns that perhaps he would end up brewing at one of the large breweries and his skills would be lost to craft brewing. Luckily Luke has found room for him at Epic and I’m sure there will be some awesome beers that will come from the partnership.

The Emerson’s crew have a whole host of exciting beers lined up which will be released as Brewers Reserves through the year however Richard Emerson just turned his hearing aid off when I asked for details! However one bit of news is that Emerson’s Pilsner, one of the nation’s biggest selling craft beers, will no longer be organic from mid January on. The supply of Organic Riwaka hops became finite while the beers growth seems to be most definitely infinite!

Things are looking good for an exciting year of beer, I can’t wait!


1 comment:

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