Of course Mrs. Hoplog and I stopped by a couple of small, well-known craft breweries in the region.
Dodson Street Bistro/Renaissance Brewing/8Wired
Across the street from our campervan park in Blenheim, NZ was the Dodson Street Bistro and Beer Garden. It's also the home to Renaissance Brewing, whose beers may be found throughout NZ. And 8Wired Brewing (available in Vancouver, BC) has the same address as well.
German specialties, cakes, craft beer AND a beer garden? Sold.
The Renaissance brewery wasn't open for tours at the hour we visited, but you could see it through a window in the pub area.
And a charming little sunken pub it was, with a bit of German flavour. The servers were eager to please, if not entirely knowledgeable about the beer they were pouring.
We were able to sit in the beer garden for about 5 minutes before the rain started up and forced us inside, but on a sunny day with a bunch of other beer drinkers it would be gangbusters.
Brewery roof visible over the garden entrance to the pub.
The Bistro side also peeks onto the beer garden.
A sampler of mostly "usual" Renaissance beers.
For those still sober enough, you can even engage in chess in the beer garden, regardless of weather.
Renaissance/Dodson is worth a visit if you're in the region. And they're clearly proud of what they have to offer.
|The view from Moa's beer garden. Grapes.|
In the middle of the Marlborough vineyards is the Allan Scott winery, as lovely a place to sample some wine and have a bite to eat as any in the region. (Recommended.) The Moa Brewery was started up and run by the Scott's son, and is located across the street from the Allan Scott tasting room.
They're clearly not afraid to be cheeky about their position, infiltrating a prime winemaking region.
|Often a sign of good things...|
The Moa is a recently-extinct native New Zealand bird - a large, flightless grazer that was quickly knocked off after the Maori first arrived from other parts of Polynesia. A Kiwi icon.
This is one of the reasons why so many breweries have a hard time gaining the reputation of wineries - they are usually located (because of cost) in the light industrial sectors of cities, and not in bucolic wine country like most wineries. Moa does not suffer from this problem, having their brewery and beer garden in the middle of vast vineyards.
The tasting room was being refurbished, but Moa was still pouring samples & answering questions.
Tours weren't available, but you could look at the operation through a window in the tasting room. Or just walk around back to where the brewery is located - about half of it spills out of the main building, with no roof or walls, just tanks and pipes. Cool.
The highlight on the day we visited was Moa's limited-run double IPA. An excellent beer, one of the best of the style I've tasted. Ah, hop heaven.
Allan Scott Winery supplies wine to New Zealand's permanent Antarctic base, "Scott Base." Moa had planned to send their "Dark" beer to Scott Base too, packaged in plastic PET bottles (no glass containers are allowed on the base). Something didn't work out with the shipment - it might have been delayed or rejected or who knows what. At any rate, Moa had a wall of cases of Antarctic-destined beer that they were blowing out at fire-sale prices. (To be fair, it tasted like something had gone a bit off in the bottling and/or subsequent storage process, losing hop character and gaining some sourness and slight oxidative characteristics compared with the retail glass-bottled version.) Being poor long-term world travellers in high-alcohol-tax New Zealand, Mrs. Hoplog and I jumped at the chance to grab some "backup beer" at around $1/bottle.
|Mmm, cheap Antarctic craft beer|
Moa was a lovely place to visit, and has the added advantage of being surrounded by wineries which can give your palette a rest from all the barley and hops.