Choice Beer Week and Beervana – very beery Wellington! Part 1

NZ Amateur Brewer: Battle Black IPA

To start off the week I was one of the judges of the NZ Amateur Brewer: Battle Black IPA. A competition that Mangrove Jacks Sponsored. There were 30 beers to judge at the Fork and Brewer, with fellow judges Lester Dunn (head brewer – Fork and Brewer), Dion Paige (ex Tuatara Brewing, currently at Fork and Brewer and Black Dog Brewery), Neil Miller (beer writer for many publications including Beer and Brewer Magazine and lover of hops and bacon) and Denise Garland (beer blogger, reporter and has one of the best palates of anyone I know).

On average the beers were very good, not too many faulty beers, but most had a bit too much roast to be a Black IPA and lots needed a bit more late hopped flavour. The winner was announced and it was Brayden Rawlinson (his home brewery goes by ninebarnyardowls). It was good clean IPA, with great hop flavours and aromas, and a subtle toasty flavour which made it incredibly balanced and lovely to drink. It will be made in a 1,000L batch at the Fork and Brewer. I look forward to trying that one!

No beer visit to Wellington is complete without a trip to Upper Hutt!

Ok I have never said this before in my life about Upper Hutt (or at least one square kilometre of it). But Upper Hutt is on the up and up. Panhead Custom Ales Brewery has been opened by Mike Neilson (ex-head brewer at Tuatara Brewing) it has opened up in a large industrial complex in Upper Hutt. He has an extra pale ale, a pale ale, a pilsner, an IPA (pretty much double IPA) and an oatmeal stout. Mike is a great brewer and a hell of a nice guy and all his beers have tasted great so far! His plan is not to do crazy experimental beers but ones that are everyday beers. Mike’s every day beers are what I wish more people’s were, full of big hop flavours but well balanced with great malt body.

Pretty much right next door (ok I got a little lost so it’s a few hundred metres away) is Kereru Brewing Company. This is run by Chris Mills and his partner. This brewery started out as a 100L Farra Brew Kit founded in 2010. This nano brewery was the first in Upper Hutt and Chris used to sell his bottles at markets around the greater Wellington/Hutt region. Now Chris has moved into larger digs and is just about to start brewing on 2,000L Premier Stainless Brew Kit. It is a very sexy set up indeed. Soon he will be able to brew his Silverstream Pale Ale, Velvet Boot Belgian Pale Ale and Moonless stout (one of my personal favourites) and others on a much larger scale for more people around the country to enjoy.


Hutt Valley Home Brew Stores


Then I went down to Lower Hutt to catch up with the people at Brewers’ World - Great Expectations homebrew store, they have a pretty good selection of lots of brewing products from brew pouches and boxes to grains, hops and yeasts. This store has been around for a long time and is part of the Hutt Valley home brew scene, for a long time they were the only store in the greater Wellington region.

All Grain Homebrew (very new) has a lot of grains, hops, yeasts and a few kits to complement their large array of very cool all grain brewing equipment… Lots and lots of equipment. Mmmmm shiny... that is me playing with the Mash Paddle Below. 

Finally to Petone to check out Brew Zealand, with the very awesome Jackson St location. Its a decent sized store that has only been open a few weeks, stocking more and more products as they go and have people coming in doing all types of brewing demonstrations. Awesome people in there and they even have a bunch of cool brewing t-shirts. Petone is also about to have a couple of very cool new craft beer bars opening soon. I have always loved Petone, now even more reason to spend a bit of time there.


Safe to say that homebrewing and craft beer is getting much more popular in the Hutt Valley. Cheers to that!


Brewery Birthdays

Wellington has been the craft beer capital of New Zealand for a few years, but it always missed one thing… breweries! The new Upper Hutt breweries join the ones that have opened up in the last couple of years. Two of them celebrated milestones last week. Firstly the Garage Project 2nd Birthday was at Hashigo Zake (officially before choice beer week). In celebration they had their first canned beer and a tap takeover of tasty garage project creations, including kegs, hand pumps and a gravity poured keller beer. The brewers were out for a couple of drinks but had to rush back to the brewery with lots of last minute Beervana preparations (canning by hand is a lot of work!). More about the boys and girls and garage project when I get to Beervana.

How a year flies when you have so many people barking for your beer as it flies out of the brewery! Parrot Dog had its 1st birthday party at the brewery and it was a cracker! If anyone can organise a proverbial celebration in a brewery it is these boys. Tickets were limited and in hot demand. The lovely staff of Little Beer Quarter helped out behind the taps of EVERY beer Parrot Dog has ever made at the brewery. Some beers nearing a year old where still tasting great (some even better with the age on it). The finger food was great, beer-jelly and cheese that had been made out of Parrot Dog beers were great. The brewery is special to me, the boys Matt, Matt and Matt started out as homebrewers when I did and now all have mortgages (but don’t own homes) but an awesome brewery. I was even there to help empty the mash tun a little (in a three piece suit… long story!) on the very first day they brewed at the brewery, it was a long first day for the boys. At the party great night was had by all. Try their award winning Bitter Bitch IPA, Bloodhound Red IPA along with the very sessionable dark mild ale: Dogg.

Cheers and more on Choice Beer Week next time!

Andrew Childs

The Beer Man

Mangrove Jack's