It all started in the early 2000’s sometime just after the Y2K bug destroyed nothing apart from my wrist watch. No it actually started in 1999 , or was it 2000? I was on the last family holiday before I moved out of home and we were on the Taieri Gorge Railway in Otago, we lived in Emerson St Berhampore and a bottle of Emerson’s London Porter was on the menu, my mother and I had to share a bottle. The flavour was astonishing.
But after Y2K I was living in the legendary Mt Cook 1920’s homestead that had fallen on hard times and went by the name of Hankey Manor and was serving as a student flat. A family friend gifted us a sack of apples and our student brains decided we would make cider, by the time we had procured the correct equipment for fermentation (we had not even considered milling and pressing the apples!) the apples had rotted and we embarked on a beer brewing adventure, one which I am still on! The first beer was a Blackrock Bock kit, I remember sitting on a rainy day looking out over Wellington reading my newly purchased second hand copy of Michael Jackson’s New World Guide to Beer. It quickly became clear that while the beer in my glass was nice, it was no bock!
From there started over a decade of homebrewing , flats were changed, equipment was built, equipment was bought. A house was bought and a bar was set up, I learnt and I learnt some more. I’m still learning. I helped set up a consumer organisation, I became a beer judge and writer, I organised homebrew festivals with others who have gone on to greatness. In 2010 I was lucky enough to be the first person to bring a recipe into the iconic Emerson’s Brewery. As a collaboration between my employer Regional Wines and Emerson’s Brewing Co I flew to Dunedin and in collaboration with Richard Emerson brewed an ESB, we refined it the next year and it achieved a Silver Medal at the BrewNZ Beer Awards. This year we brewed a Best Bitter and it achieved a Gold Medal and Best In Class Trophy. I was stoked.
From there I have created the Southstar brand. It’s a name to sum up my collaboration and cuckoo brewing adventures. Who knows were all this will end. Cheers!