Craftwork Brewery has scooped two medals at the 2019 New Zealand Brewers Guild Awards.
The Oamaru brewery was awarded a silver medal for its 2017 Terroir Blend, a collaboration with Wairarapa’s Ninebarnyardowls, and bronze for its barrel-aged sour ale Bruxelles Ma Belle.
Co-owners Lee-Ann Scotti and Michael O’Brien were pleased with the recognition, but said the opportunity to highlight spontaneous fermentation in New Zealand was much more of a thrill.
Their Terroir Blend is a coolship beer, brewed using the spontaneous fermentation process – using wild yeasts in the air, rather than cultivated ones, and putting Mother Nature at the helm of brewing.
“It’s a little known style in New Zealand . . . It’s becoming way more popular, not adding the yeast,” Ms Scotti said.
“It’s a lengthy process, but really exciting.”
Ninebarnyardowls brewer Brayden Rawlinson sent 100-litres of his one-year-old spontaneously fermented ale to Oamaru – and Craftwork Brewery blended it with its own.
Next year, Ms Scotti and Mr O’Brien are hoping to do a “mega blend” with up to four other breweries.
Ms Scotti described the Terroir Blend as “sour and cider-like”, and not dissimilar to bronze medal-winning Bruxelles Ma Belle.
One of Craftwork’s most popular beers, Bruxelles Ma Belle was inspired by a trip to Brussels in 2015.
“There’s an apricot lambic called Fou’ Foune and it is extremely gorgeous and we drank heaps of it, but it’s really hard to buy and bring back [to New Zealand],” he said.
At present, Craftwork has a waiting list for the mixed fermentation sour ale, aged on Waitaki Valley apricots.
“We only do it once a year – it’s seasonal,” she said.
“Every year we make twice as much as the previous year. It just flies out the door.”
After nearly five years of brewing Belgian-style favourites in the basement of Ms Scotti’s Tyne St house, Craftwork opened a barrel room and tasting facility in Oamaru’s Victorian Harbour St in January.
It has given it a public presence in Oamaru and provided much needed storage and brewing space for the business.
“We have regular Oamaruvians, tourists who sweep in by chance and we have our beer nerds, Craftwork people, who visit Oamaru especially for us,” she said.
Ms Scotti and Mr O’Brien have a busy few months ahead.
At present, they are expanding their tasting room, next month they will be at the Dunedin Craft Beer & Food Festival and in December they are travelling to Auckland to present a sour beer masterclass.