There’s a great little ale about to emerge from a corner of the Wakatipu, and it harks back to the rich Central Otago history of gold, steam and the sheer relief of a good beer at the end of a hard day’s work.
‘Steam Brew’ is the first ale launched by new Queenstown beer company Queenstown Brewers. Owner and home-brewer John Wallace described his Steam Brew as “a Californian-style beer – a brown ale with the smooth richness of a lager and the fruity bitterness of an ale.”
Beer connoisseurs can get their first mouth-watering taste of Steam Brew at Queenstown bar Brazz next week.
A Queenstown local, Mr Wallace shot to fame on the back of the controversy surrounding the men-only division of the most recent Lake Hayes A&P show. When the exclusive male domain (including men-only baking) was contested by a woman it made national news. Despite the clamour, however, the home brew section remained men only, and it was one of Mr Wallace’s brews that won best in show.
A winemaker for most of his life, Mr Wallace spent several years in his back shed developing his home brews, and testing them on his seemingly very thirsty mates.
“After some exhausting R&D and a small win on the horses, we had the seed money to take it one step further,” he explained.
Mr Wallace then engaged some friends in a nearby brewery to bottle his prized beers.
“Suddenly we had a business venture on our hands, but fortunately one that I and my mates have a deep affection for,” said Mr Wallace.
The inspiration for this particular beer came from the Otago gold rush.
According to Mr Wallace, the gold miners brought with them a thirst for a beer that originated in the Californian goldfields. It was called ‘Steam’ – a highly charged brew that let off a good head of steam when the barrels were tapped. Mr Wallace has dedicated Steam Brew to “those hardy pioneers who arrived here thirsty and probably left here broke.”
150 years later Mr Wallace is finally serving up the ale the miners pined for, with a launch at Queenstown’s Brazz bar today (Thursday November 22).
In keeping with the ways of yesteryear, Mr Wallace suggested that sustainability was not only a factor in starting out in home-brewing, but in continuing with the brewery today.
“We use only locally grown malt and hops in the beer production and the beer is not filtered or refined in order to retain maximum flavour.”
Steam Brew is just the beginning. In the New Year Queenstown Brewers will be releasing the ‘award winning’ Pilsner (2012 A&P Show Home Brew Award), a pale ale, and a seasonal brew with a touch of thyme.
From today (Thursday November 22) Steam Brew will be available from Queenstown bar Brazz. For trade enquiries please see: www.queenstownbrewers.co.nz.