Our fantastic Christchurch run almost over, we popped in to see David Gaughan from Golden Eagle at his house in Rolleston. He showed us his incredibly impressive homebrew setup and the beginnings of his commercial brewery, which included a couple of fermenters and some lovely looking wood-clad vessels. For some strange reason I recognised the two vessels at the front of his garage and it dawned on me that they used to be mine! They were originally from the Victoria brewpub which ran in 1986-87 in Hamilton and myself and a friend had bought the setup a few years back when I was on the UK. They’d been in storage for a couple of years and we had decided to sell them. David was the proud new owner and I’m really looking forward to seeing what flavours he can tease from them.
We tasted a couple of his beers and were blown away! Old England, weighing in at 8.8% was a complex and smooth Old Ale and was tasting brilliant after a year or so in the bottle. The beer had been brewed in honour of his friend’s father, who had been a keen homebrewer back in the UK and loved the Feast and Firkin Dogbolter. He has definitely done the man proud!
We then tried a twist on the Old England recipe, this time with the addition of Peated Malt. This was perfect, the hint of ocean and iodine that peat gives, blending perfectly with the rich body and soft, warming alcohol. Definitely a brew for lovers of the peated character in Islay whiskeys.
We headed southwards and stopped off at Cuisine Magazine Restaurant of the Year 2010. Riverstone Kitchen is worth a visit just to check out the gorounds alone. The gardens are a greenfinger’s wet dream and perfectly cared for by Riverstone owners Bevan and Monique Smith’s mother Dot. Most of the vegetables and herbs are seasonally picked from their gardens and carefully crafted into world class food by the hard-working team. Even the chickens play their role and the Scrambled Eggs and Havoc Bacon I had are easily the best I’ve tried. The liberal dosing of fragrant Truffle Oil, it’s meaty, garlic-like ‘impossible-to-describe’ perfume lifting the rich creaminess of the eggs to the heavens, was out of this world good.
I quick drive-by of Oamaru, the Steampunk Capital of NZ, was awesome and we ogled the mad industrial inventions and the Jules Verne meets William Gibson and Bruce Sterling creations. Chopped up metal and macabre motorbikes and steam trains and insane imaginations abound.
My old university town, Dunedin was next and it was amazing to come back to the place that was my home for 5 years. We stopped off at the awesome craft beer bar, Eureka and were met by Tom “The Pom” Jone and his partner Vicki Purple. Tom did his time at Emerson’s and was a founder of Green Man Brewery in Dunedin back in the day before starting his company, Crafty Beers. Tom spends his life surrounded by everything beer with representation, sales and distribution for a bunch of NZ craft breweries as well as a load of beer education and beer and food matching.
Vicki is also heavily involved in this and as well as finishing her PhD in Nursing and being heavily involved in the development of unit training standards in beer for the NZ hospitality industry, she also has her own beer brand which is brewed for by Harrington’s in Christchurch. Her first beer, Beltane Maiden is a great Belgian Wit style and scooped a Silver Medal last year at BrewNZ. Vicki is also heavily involved in the Beer in the City initiative which is aiming to involve more women in craft beer. I don’t know where she finds the time, but powered by her passion alone, she is making an incredible contribution to our craft.
The bar where we chatted, Eureka is a craft beer lovers paradise and something I wished was there as a student. Dave Smith, owner, chef, beer connoisseur and craft-brewer-to-be is a wealth of beer knowledge and a great guy to have a chat to about beer and brewing. In fact, we spent a long time chin-wagging about both beer, rugby and mutual friends. A top man and a place definitely worth a visit.
The day was over, it was time to sleep.