In 1991, John Har­ring­ton said “enough” to the sti­fling beer du­op­oly. To com­pete, he founded Har­ring­ton’s Brew­eries and be­gan mak­ing beer with all nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents. In the early days, most beers were sold lo­cally in kegs but Har­ring­ton’s now boasts a range of at­trac­tive bot­tles and dis­trib­utes na­tion­wide.

Like so many Christchurch busi­nesses, Har­ring­ton’s was hit hard by the earth­quakes; one build­ing was com­pletely de­stroyed. How­ever, some good came out of the rub­ble as the com­pany sub­se­quently brought to­gether the far-flung parts of its busi­ness un­der one roof in a new build­ing. De­spite a few tough years af­ter the quakes, Har­ring­ton’s Brew­eries was crowned the Brewer’s Guild Grand Cham­pion New Zealand Brew­ery for 2012 – the coun­try’s high­est brew­ing ac­co­lade.

With more than 25 of­fer­ings, Har­ring­ton’s brews the largest range of beers in the coun­try. One of its flag­ship beers is Har­ring­ton’s Big John, a 6.5 per cent Scotch ale in­fused with bour­bon. It pours a dusky brown in the glass with a mocha head, and de­liv­ers firm notes of cof­fee, choco­late, vanilla, oak and, er, bour­bon.

Big John pairs equally well with savoury and sweet dishes, but it’s hard to go past match­ing it with this is­sue’s dou­ble choco­late brownie cook­ies (page 68). The dark, rich beer com­ple­ments the equally dark and rich choco­late in the cook­ies, and high­lights the back­ground vanilla notes. The oak in the beer from the bour­bon contrasts won­der­fully with the roasted peanuts, while the sprin­kling of salt on the cook­ies serves to high­light the sweet­ness of both the bis­cuits and the beer.


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