Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Motueka and Mapua, NZ

Just down the road from Nelson, NZ is Motueka - yes, another town that shares a name with a type of Kiwi hops.  Just like the adjacent town Riwaka.  I was clearly in proper beer country.

Golden Bear Brewing - Mapua, NZ

In the seaside hamlet of Mapua is the highly-recommended Golden Bear Brewery.  (Or as Kiwis seem to pronounce it, the "Golden Beer Brewery".  Either way works for me!)  There is nothing to Mapua other than a tiny stretch of wharfside shops anchored by Golden Bear.  But it's absolutely worth a visit.

We arrived around 7pm to a surprisingly large crowd and a Radiohead-like hipster band playing in front of the brewery.  Sweet.

A bar graces the front of the shiny clean brewing space.  It was packed, and the beer was great.

A pallet of fresh wort packs was prominently displayed near the entrance - Kiwi home brewers take note!  You too can brew Golden Bear beers.

A view from the tables.  What's that grey building across the parking lot?

Oh yeah, The Smokehouse.  Incredible fish'n'chips, served Kiwi style - the whole order rolled up in a giant piece of blank newsprint.  Very highly recommended.

You can also pick up some smoked Kingfish to go...

People were hanging out, conversing, dancing, and having great social fun in this, the focal point of the tiny berg.  We even met a lovely couple from the Riwaka area who invited us to stay at their place and have dinner with them, etc. etc.  Rural New Zealand really is full of wonderful people.  After the band packed up at around 9pm, everyone disappeared instantly and the bar began closing up - so if you visit, come early.

Moutere Inn

This is apparently the oldest operating pub in New Zealand - though I believe there's some kind of dispute about this with a place near Wellington.  But these guys have a fancy sign, so it must be true.

Unfortunately, we arrived before the place opened, so had to content ourselves with exterior photos.

Oh God - we're at the junction of two different types of hops!  (Nelson Sauvin and Motueka).

Monkey Wizard Brewing - Riwaka, NZ

In tiny Riwaka (a little farming village), in the former premises of a butchery, is Monkey Wizard Brewery.  It's a small husband-and-wife operation, but is well-patronized by locals.  You can get samples at the growler-/flagon-filling storefront.  The Riwaka couple we were staying with graciously bought a couple of flagons to go with dinner.

I tried a few samples, including their super-exclusive Steampunk Strong Ale, which is brewed using ambergris.  Yes, you read that correctly, ambergris.  Definitely a first for me.

While this is a cool way to make your beer sound special, but I'm not sure it did much for me.  First of all, there's no way they could add very much ambergris to each batch, because it's so expensive the price of the beer would quickly become astronomical.  (Ambergris is on the order of $20/gram.)  Second, I'm not sure what ambergris tastes like, so I don't know what to look for - I might have detected something vaguely salty in the beer, but that's about it.  And third, Monkey Wizard served all of its tasters in frozen glasses, so I couldn't taste much in the samples anyway.  But still, a cool idea.

Monkey Wizard is apparently for sale.  If you're looking for a comfortable rural NZ brewing existence, give them a ring.

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