We believe that by far the best way to understand what something tastes like - is to taste it. We also know that as soon as a suggestion is made as to the flavour of a product, your perception of how it tastes will be influenced by that. For this reason, we prefer not to tell you what the product tastes like and trust that you can decide that for yourselves. Besides - everybody tastes things differently. Bitterness is particularly so. There are bittering compounds that some people can’t detect at all while others will detect them strongly. Stating IBU’s - might give you a theoretical bittering level - but in reality - and is often - quite misleading.
Hops - We use a lot of Wakatu - especially in the Golden Goose. An older variety based on the Hallertau strain, which makes for a nicely balanced beer. Pacific Gem is used for up front bittering in several beers. Riwaka , Motueka Nelson Sauvin for a bit of ‘fruit’. The new wonder baby on the block - Nectaron - is also finding it’s place in the play pen. We also grow our own hops which we call ‘Onekaka’ - these are used in most of our beers to provide a filter bed to help clarify the wort as it drains from the kettle
Manuka - is picked fresh on the day of brewing from a special place nearby. It has been rumoured that we pick it naked - by the light of a full moon, while chanting a gentle oommm to the gods of all good things - but this is not true - not even a little bit and besides, it would never comply with health and safety rules as there is much gorse and spikey hakea in the area and the gentle oommm would more likely be an anguished scream.
Malts - 100% Gladfield, grown and malted by Doug and Gabbi and their great team down at Dunsandal - mid Canturbury. Pilsner makes up the bulk, colour and body from various special malts roasted in ‘Gabriella’
Yeasts - Ale - US-05 and US-05 (T-58 in the strong ones) Lagers - W-35/70
Water - the most important ingredient - comes from a small bush filtered stream in the hill behind the Mussel Inn. Very low in dissolved minerals - high in all the good stuff that water should have in it. No chemicals added.
Apples for our ciders. Predominantly Granny Smith, with as many Sturmers as we can find - are mostly grown in Tasman. Manchurian crab apples from Riuwaka and also Wrights Scarlet crab apples from our own orchard to add a bit of acid. Sometime other random varieties depending of what the season provides us with. The feijoas for the Freckled frog are mainly grown in Tasman - topped up by some from our own orchard.
Lemons for the Lemming Aid are all grown on site
Yes - we have won the occasional award (back when we entered as a way to support the NZ Brewers Guild). But like tasting notes - awards are largely meaningless - and the general public don't really understand how they work anyway. The simple fact that a gold medal award winning beer from one year (especially coming from a ‘big’ brewery) fails to win a gold the next year goes to show that there is something amiss with the system. Unlike wine - which has God’s influence - it’s not that hard to make a consistent beer. When a group of people sit around a table, taste a beer and then discuss it - like tasting notes, the end result is bound to be slanted by that discussion - and the fashion of the day. Also - the huge range of styles that are being produced these days has turned awards into a sport whereby the competition is to try and enter your beer into the right class. We often hear the comment - ‘Great beer - wrong class sorry’. What can be stunning in one class can be a terrible fault in another. Also, the champion brewery is that which hauls in the most medals. Want to be a champion brewery? - just enter a heap of decent beers (and hope you’ve got them in the right classes).
The awards are, however, a great chance for brewers to get together, have a few beers and tell a few lies. I miss that - especially now when there are so many more brewers on the block.