An Antipodean brew FOR THEPOMS
Women brewers? Yes, and a good thing, too, according to CARL HADLER. Brewing is still a male dominated industry, even though there are no physical challenges to prevent women from becoming brewers. Craft brewing is about the brewer making beer he or she l
Belinda Gould, from Brew Moon brewery, in Amberley, is making interesting beer and adding to the craft beer scene in New Zealand. She trained as a winemaker and worked at Muddy Water Winery in Waipara a few years ago before switching over to brewing. She has strong views on craft beer and in the last few years has brewed some unique, tasty, and challenging beer.
Belinda recently travelled to England to brew a beer for Wetherspoon, the country’s big pub chain. For a few years now Wetherspoon pubs have been inviting brewers from around the world to brew beer for specific festivals with the beer being served in the company’s pubs. They have around 900 pubs! This year Wetherspoon wanted to showcase female brewers and Belinda was selected for an allexpenses-paid trip to England to brew huge amounts of beer.
She brewedin a small familyowned brewery in Oxfordshire, Hook Norton Brewery. Hook Norton only produces cask conditioned real ale and bottle conditioned beer. The brewery was started in the 1850s and is set out on many levels so gravity can help with the transfers. There is a working steam engine that used to run the brewery and a lot of pulleys and old mechanisms are still in use. It sounds like a working museum.
In all around 40,000 litres of Belinda’s beer was made. It was called Real Antipodean Ale. It was done in three consecutive brew days, fermented in open fermenters for a week and then put into casks to be shipped out to the pubs. In those three days she brewed the same amount of beer she would brew in 10 months at Brew Moon.
What a great experience! I am extremely envious. Unlike David Cunliffe I amnot going to apologise for being a man but for the first time in my life I wished I was a woman. Not that I agreed with her being chosen to go to the UK because she was a woman – she deserved to go on her merits as a brewer!
Ironically, Belinda never got to taste the finished beer. She had to return to New Zealand and as it all went into firkins none has been shipped here.
However, she has now brewed the same recipe here and Real Antipodean Ale is available in select outlets on tap and also on handpump. The best place to try it is at the Brew Moon Cafe just south of Amberley on the main highway. While you are there I recommend you try the other beers on tap. They are well made, distinct and interesting. The Ole Mole is a particular favourite, very challenging with plenty of spice and chilli heat. The newer Farmhouse Ale, brewed with a Saison yeast, is clean and refreshing with a stunning citric grapefruit edge that is particularly beguiling.
Belinda Gould is a real craft brewer. She has a local community focus, she brews from the heart and she brews good beer.
Ara Select Blocks Sauvignon Blanc 2012. RRP $25.95
There’s a poshness about this sauvignon blanc. It’s fleshy and intense but all in a very satisfying way. Welcome asparagus flavours are creeping in, thanks possibly to the wine’s age, and a little grapefruit note keeps it clean. This is classy.
A BIT OF A HOOT Wise Owl Swooping Sauvignon Blanc 2013. RRP $12.95 TOP DROP Rapaura Springs Sauvignon Blanc 2013. RRP $16
Great name and a fun label. ‘‘Talisman of the vineyards’’, this promises an affordable quaffing wine rather than a high class example of the winemaker’s art, and so it proves. It’s sweetish, fruity, with good length. Altogether a medium wine, quite tolerable and fine as a party wine, however, there are better sauvignon blancs at reasonable prices out there. With bright, clear, zingy flavours and a limey finish, this is the type of wine that perfectly illustrates what a top Marlborough sauvignon blanc delivers. A tarty fruit salad with lots of seamless structure. There’s nothing shy or subtle about it – but that’s not what you want when you unscrew the top of a recent sauvignon. All wines are published with the recommended retail price (RRP) by the winery or distributor, but with so many good wines being discounted, it is likely that they can be bought for less than the RRP.
Cheers: Belinda Gould pours a beer at a Wetherspoon pub in London, at the prelaunch party of her Real Antipodean Ale.