After taking the scenic route along a narrow single-lane dirt road cut into crumbling clay cliffs directly over the ocean, we arrived in the quiet community of Matarangi.
The address of the brewery led us to a cul-de-sac in a very residential neighbourhood. We weren't sure if we were in the right place until we saw a minivan printed with the Croucher name parked in the driveway of what was obviously someone's private home. No one appeared to be around except for a friendly dog greeter. So we erred on the side of caution and did not disturb the premises.
Driving out, we circled to the other side of the house and noticed a small shed attached to the home - perhaps a former carport. I couldn't resist a peek in the window, and sure enough it contained some lovely copper-clad brewing equipment.
|Where the magic happens|
Later that day I found a phone and called up Coromandel, who confirmed my suspicions that they are not set up for visitors or tours. However, within the next year they plan to install a small tasting/growler filling room, and one should be able to drop by then. But give them a call to confirm first.
So for now, the only way to sample their beer is to buy it in a local restaurant or grocery store (their batch size is only 350 litres). Which is what I did. And it's what you should do, too.
Their beer is, in a word, fantastic. "Just Buzzin'" is a seasonal rye ale finished with New Zealand's famous manuka tree honey - not only can you taste the manuka honey, it dovetails nicely with the rest of the beer. "Good As Gold" is a solid Kiwi-style pilsener - think Bohemian pilsener but with fruity Kiwi hops. "Dizzy Blonde" is a seasonal, straight up Belgian pale ale, and my favourite of the lot. And "The Dark Side" is a Kiwi twist on a bock, also lovely.
That's four very different styles of beer, all of them top-notch, and all from a brewery that is essentially just starting out. Kiwi beer fans keep an eye on this little operation, they're going places - and they've given you another great reason to visit the Coromandel area.