This week we take you down to Wanaka Beerworks in, you’ve guessed it, Wanaka. So grab a bottle of what you have lurking in your fridge, read this, then get one of the beers and never look back.
Wanaka Beerworks is very young for a micro brewery. The company was started on 1998 by the current owner/brewer Dave Gillies. This is a typical New Zealand micro brewery, characterised by its small operation yet big on quality. To keep up with the demand of this ever expanding enterprise, they have installed a bottling system that can fill 2000 bottles an hour and have increased their initial cold storage space to more than double. The labeller is the same piece of equipment with its many quirks, it’s from Italy, with all the knobs and buttons – although the instructions are in Italian. They have recently added a recycling machine used to recycle half their bottles. They say recycling is economically viable and environmentally friendly.
The three main beers – Brewski, Tall Black and Cardrona Gold – are all hand-crafted using traditional brewing methods. They respect the Reinheitsegebot German Beer Purity Law of 1516. This law states that the beer contain only 4 ingredients: malted barley, hops, yeast and water and is free from additives and preservatives (you never know, this may come up in a law exam). This basically means you’ll drink a completely natural hand-crafted beer with delicious depth of flavour.
Labelled as ‘a beer of bohemian tendencies’, Brewski has a very light lemon lime almost chardonnay colour, but don’t let this fool you. The aroma is really fruity and also contains floral notes, the taste is hoppy, typical of a pilsner, although surprisingly sweet to balance this spicy hop bitterness. Brewski has performed best of all their beers so far; it reached its greatest fame in 2000 winning a gold medal and the supreme award at the New Zealand International Beer Awards. It’s a great beer to have as a thirst quencher after a bit of exercise in the sun and would go well with bar snacks and like most pilsners always a winner with a ruby.
Cardrona Gold (4.0%)
Labelled as ‘a golden lager of quaffable contingencies’, which pretty much sums it up. It is a golden brown colour similar to that of Tui, and this isn’t a pale ale either, although this is where the similarities end. It has a wonderful nectar honey smell which you get immediately on taste. It feels thick in the mouth but is dangerously easy to drink, and gives a wonderful caramel malt after taste. It’s one of the best beers we have sampled, an absolute cracker.
The recipe is based on a Vienna style lager which the Germans call Oktoberfest. It is named after the Cardrona town, just outside Wanaka, famous for its colourful gold mining history that celebrates the pioneering spirit of the folk from the days of Cardrona’s Gold.
This would go well with a light chicken salad or maybe some simple pork chops but a bit of apple on the side.
Tall Black (5.2%)
Labelled as ‘a dark ale of peak proportions’. This is lighter than most dark beers, almost a deep rouge, but it still packs a punch with its Christmas pudding drenched in sherry aroma (like your Gran use to do). Again it has this honey taste to it but big on the malty fruity caramel flavours and a lovely sort of burnt, smokey finish with a sweet lift at the very end. This smokiness is maybe a bi-product of the heavily kilned and roasted malts and you get this full flavour at a slightly warmer temperature of 10 – 12 degrees centigrade. Unlike most dark beers you could session this one and Keith rates it as the best he’s had.
It’s great with those black ball sausages (maybe the pork ones with the herbs in) that you get at Moore Wilson’s.
You can find these beers at Regional Wines and Spirits, and Moore Wilson’s.
We couldn’t find them in any bars in town, but you can email Wanaka Beerworks direct (wanaka.beerworks [at] xtra.co.nz) where you can order in half dozen packs (two of each beer and no freight costs).