Monday, February 25, 2013

Coromandel Brewing Company, NZ

While at a cute cafe near Cooks Beach on New Zealand's Coromandel Peninsula, Mrs. Hoplog and I noticed they carried local beer from Coromandel Brewing Company.  A quick web search revealed the brewery was only about 20 minutes away, and having time on our hands we decided to swing by.  We were itching to try some local beer, especially since Croucher Brewing's Brew in Rotorua had been closed when we visited a few days earlier.  (Like many venues in Rotorua, they inexplicably don't open until dinner time.)

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.

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