Building on the baking competitions we have had in the past, and a growing passion for brewing amongst our fellow cohorts, it was decided that we would step things up a little and host a brewing competition. Sam Possenniskie of Yeastie Boys fame and Nick Jones, a passionate home-brewer with links to Mike’s Organic Brewery, kindly posed as our judges, wowing us with their knowledge and refined palettes. We were blown away by the obvious time and effort that had been put into both the brewing itself as well as the packaging of the finish product and thus picking a winner wasn’t an easy task. The team that took out the title however couldn’t have been more deserving. Over to the winners Alun and Owen to introduce their winning brew:
Owen and I work in the IT department at Fisher & Paykel. For years he’s been my manager and friend, gently suggesting that I should take an interest in something other than IT. Two and a half year’s ago I mentioned in passing that I had an interest in brewing. I’d always enjoyed cooking and as a previous title holder of the IT bake-off competition brewing seemed a natural progression. Owen had never mentioned that he brewed before – perhaps because I hadn’t asked – but said that when he worked at Boeing he had learnt to brew there. After that I took him a bit more seriously and we start creating brewing recipes in earnest.
Brewing is more-or-less a simple process which uses a few standard ingredients – water, malted barley, hops and yeast. The malted barley is heated in water, converting the starches in the barely to sugar (mashing). The spent grains are then removed and the remaining solution (wort) is then boiled with hops. Hops add the bulk of the aroma and, dependent on the style of beer, the flavour. Once the wort has cooled, a friendly yeast is added to convert the sugars to alcohol.
The art of brewing comes through subtle changes to the ingredients and the basic process. Salts can be added to the water to enhance flavours and yeast propagation. There are numerous variations of malted barley and other cereals like wheat and sorghum can also be used to provide the sugars. Hop varieties offer citrus, pine, spice or floral flavours as well as bitterness. And you can always enhance your beer with fruits, nuts, herbs or spices. The options are infinite, but remember to record your process, you may have just created the next great beer.
Brewing is contagious and differently complex and has allowed my passion for local and New Zealand ingredients to shine. It is just so exciting to experiment using your own hops or by harvesting Kawakawa leaves to add to your beer, investigating what it does to alter the taste of the finished product. I really need to stress that not every experiment is going to be great but our experience has shown us that you need to try it a couple of times to find out.
The Katipo brew is the culmination of multiple brewing efforts which saw us experiment with different lager and ale yeasts and subtlety different grain bills to, funnily-enough, return to our original recipe. Dark roasted malts come through the almost pale ale-like body adding coffee chocolate notes perhaps more in the style of the early NZ dark ales.