These days my home brewery is mainly used for trial brewing beers that at one time or another will be brewed commercially. Recently I have been trialling a best bitter recipe in the form of NOVA, it’s had some very positive feedback from those who have tasted it, its a style I am very experienced with and have had some success with in the past. I am also working on my Belgian brewing skills, an area I have very little experience in and have a Strong Belgian Golden Ale that I am preparing to brew as I type. Named Temple of the Morning Star I am brewing it very much to style by using two different yeast strains, splitting the batch and fermenting each portion with a different strain and then blending them back together. The classic of the style Duvel does it this way , I’m not sure I will be able to do this commercially when the time comes but perhaps I will, or perhaps I will just have to pitch both strains. The beer will unconventionally be hopped exclusively with my favourite New Zealand hop variety Super Alpha.
There is a convention that Belgian Strong Golden Ales have dark, evil or roguish names after the pioneer Duvel which means Devil in Flemish. Those with a knowledge of 90’s Noisecore, the direct English definition of the Latin word Lucifer and perhaps most niche of all my tattoos will get the name and how it fits the convention. Fingers crossed for a trouble free brewday.
Southstar on Desert Island Beers
I took part in the Desert Island Beer blog recently , follow the link to see what I would choose.
So Sceptred Warrior is a champ. Sceptred was entered into the Malthouse Old World IPA challenge on a whim. Serendipitously the Malthouse announced that they were going to run an Old World counterpart to their hugely successful West Coast IPA Challenge just after Sceptred was going to be ready to hit the taps. After some string pulling and favour asking, I ended up managing to borrow a firkin from Townshend Brewing Co main man Martin Townshend and a cask tap from the Garage Project allowing Sceptred to be cask conditioned and poured straight from the barrel. The beer was judged by the panel of judges the morning of the event. The competition was stiff with entries from local brewer The Garage Project, Marlborough’s Moa, Hamilton’s Good George, cask beer specialist Townshend Brewing Co, Auckland’s Epic Brewing Co and Christchurch real ale brewer The Twisted Hop . My partner Sarah and myself arrived early and enjoyed a few pints of the assorted entries. It was my first chance to taste Sceptred since I left it on day 2 of fermentation a month earlier. The beer was made for cask, lush rich malt, marmalade esters, spicy citrus hop character and a hint of mushroomy earthy English hop all combined perfectly, if I do say so myself it was a cracking pint. One point of interest was that the beer out of Liberty was much darker and more malt accented than the beer from my brewery. A lot of kettle caramelisation. After a few pints suddenly we found ourselves present at the moment of truth. Unlike the West Coast Challenge where there is an announcement and a trophy in the form of a pair of gumboots painted gold the Old World Challenge was a tad more low key. The brewers present got a tap on the shoulder, the final placing had Sceptred first, Garage Project Caledonia Uber Alles second and Moa Five Hop Special in third. The judges described Sceptred as being
“a big British IPA” with a nose reminiscent of“tangerines on steroids.” Notes of “proper English marmalade” were enjoyed, as was the “bitter, astringent, cleansing finish.” While the Sceptred Warrior was “clearly strong”, it was also “hugely drinkable.”
So a pretty good night for Southstar. We had a pint or so to celebrate and then it was home for a cup of tea, we know how to party.
Since then a keg of Sceptred has graced the taps at Regional alongside its challenger Pacific Warrior. In keg the earthy hop character is much more prominent with notes of camembert cheese and mushroom making the beer striking to say the least. One punter tasting it compared it to Yeastie Boy’s Rex Attitude in terms of intensity. The other keg for Regional has been put aside to age. There is still another firkin waiting to go on at Galbraith’s Ale House, it will be interesting to hear how it tastes.
As for the challenge with Pacific Warrior well the public vote was probably always going to go for the fruity new world hopped (and more conventional) version, Jo’s contender was of course a cracking beer. There were however a pleasing number of punters who leaned the other way. I loved it from the cask, it will be interesting to see how the keg ages.
Finally a huge thanks to Ryan McArthur who designed the gloriously Dr Who tinged tap badge above and to Dave Batt who did the initial brand design, who could resist the three Winstons? Cheers.
Me brewing Sceptred Warrior at Liberty Brewing Co in New Plymouth.
In a little over a week I will be travelling up to the Liberty Brewery in New Plymouth to brew my next cuckoo brew. Sceptred Warrior is going to be a New World IPA , that is brewed to be strong, hop forward and aromatic with loads of dry and late hopping, but brewed with all English ingredients. Liberty head brewer Joseph Wood will be brewing a New World hopped IPA with the same grist and yeast but with New World hops to challenge my’ New Anglo’ IPA. The beers will be released in keg to a select few outlets around the country. Some of the Sceptred will also be cask conditioned and will appear at the upcoming Malthouse Old World IPA Challenge and possibly at another notable NZ Real Ale pub.
The name Sceptred Warrior comes from Shakespeare’s King Richard II :
This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,–
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
Sceptred Warrior will be released in November and will hopefully offer something a little different in the current sea of New World hopped IPA’s.
The first Southstar beers occurred as part of a consultation relationship between me and Silverstream based nano brewer Chris Mills. We decided we would brew a Rye Brown Ale for the SOBA Winter Ales Festival. The Festival had formally been known as The Matariki Winter Ales Festival until it became clear that a wine company owned the rights to the name Matariki when used in reference to alcohol. We named our Rye Brown Ale Seven Sisters after a European myth about the stars that Maori call Matariki. The beer was a real winter warmer combining a rich sugar note from golden syrup, and nutty viscous rye malt alongside a range of dark malts including the seldom used brown malt, NZ hops and a fruity English Ale yeast.
Name: Kereru / Southstar Seven Sisters
Style: Rye Brown Ale / Old Ale cross over
Ratebeer : http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/southstar–kereru-seven-sisters/183519/
Untappd : http://untappd.com/beer/199763
The second Kereru collaboration was a twist on the same concept this time in the form of a festive brew for the Beervana festival. The theme for Festives was fruit and vegetable beers. We brewed a brown ale this time with chestnuts in the mash tun and currants and cranberrys in the boil. Chris being American feels the need to call them Zante currants, I have no such urge!
Chestnuts proved to be an expensive and difficult ingredient to brew with so don’t expect this one to reappear any time soon! The name Fruits of Jupiter came from the fact that chestnuts are sometimes referred to as Jupiter Nuts because of how they look in the shell.
Name: Kereru / Southstar Fruits of Jupiter
Style: Fruit and Nut Brown Ale / Old Ale cross over
Ratebeer : http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/southstar–kereru-fruits-of-jupiter/183521/
Untappd : http://untappd.com/beer/215921
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!