Beer – Ode to a brew

Introducing our new series of columns on local brews and produce. This month, Ian Marriott, from Warkworth’s Tahi Bar, delves into the growing brewing industry in Mahurangi.

Pull up a stool and grab a beer, I wanna tell you a little story.  Actually,  I just want to talk about beer. The Kiwi beer scene has gone through some tremendous changes in recent times and none greater than the rise of small independently owned and operated breweries. The latest and most common term for the most recent incarnation of beer is Craft Beer, but over the years it has been referred to as boutique beer, microbrews, small, artisan and one of the newest monikers being bandied about is Indie brews (short for independent breweries).

The problem with giving something a label or pigeon holing it, is that there is an expectation that everything in that category is of the same virtue. That is simply not the case when we discuss beer…there are those who will tell you there is no such thing as a bad beer and again simply not the case. Brewing is a science and as such requires a level of expertise, knowledge and high levels of sanitation. When these extremely important aspects are not followed, then hello bad beer, regardless of who makes it. Fortunately, most brewers understand the importance of a quality product and we as the consumer rarely taste bad beer…well there was this one big brewery…oh, ok that’s another story for a later date! My point here is that you should try and decide for yourself whether a beer is good…for you! Good local beer bars will generally allow you to have a taste of a beer on tap before you buy to help you decide, some serve tasting trays comprised of several tasters of around 100mls each to help you find a flavour you enjoy. Enjoy it for flavour, taste, aroma, texture and not just for effect and a new appreciation of an every day beverage will develop, regardless of how it is labelled.

And speaking of developing, what an amazing amount of growth the beer industry has seen in our region in the last three years.

Multi award-winning 8 Wired Brewing  just celebrated its first anniversary of brewing in Warkworth with the release of another of their barrel aged beers, Le Fut Flanders Red Ale which has been in oak barrels since 2013. The next release will be another from their barrel ageing programme, Wild Feijoa Sour Ale. Made using locally grown feijoa, this sour ale is an absolute taste sensation.. well at least the previous two releases of it were and it is a science after all.

Sawmill Brewing are about to unveil their brand spanking new brewing facility on  Leigh Road. After brewing for over ten years on site at Leigh Sawmill Cafe they have developed a purpose built “brewery experience” to showcase their products to better effect and to meet the increased demand for their award-winning beers. Co-owner/brewer Mike Sutherland explains: “It is about providing a full brewery experience, there are loads of wineries that do it but no breweries, so we wanted to fill that void”. They are hoping to open next month.
We will keep you updated on all the ‘hoppiest’ information via the Mahurangi Matters website.