[Beer] Discoveries in Kiwiland: Monkey Wizard Wheat Ale
April 15, 2012
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One of the greatest joys of traveling for me is stumbling upon random food-related discoveries that turn out to be awesome. Ryan, Jobe, and I were on our way to kayaking in the Abel Tasman national park for a day when I saw this micro-brewery by the roadside. It was 7am in the morning, so naturally it was closed (I guess kiwis aren’t the chronic alcoholics that Brits are). However, never the one to pass up an opportunity to check out hidden discoveries, I made sure we stopped there on our way back.
Monkey Wizard Brewery is located in the village of Riwaka, about 40-50 min. drive from the town of Nelson where we were staying. The area is apparently well known for having excellent water and is ideal for growing both apples and hops. Indeed, we drove by several apple orchards on our way to Abel Tasman. The micro-brewery was a butcher’s shop in the past that has been converted to a brewery. Apparently, the brewery hand-crafts beer in the time-honoured “single step infusion mashing technique” that was popular in turn-of-the-century UK. I don’t know what the fuck that means, but it sure sounds cool and micro-brewerish.
Anyways, on to the wheat beer. I suppose the closest equivalent to it would be BigRock Brewery’s Grasshopper. Wizard’s wheat ale though was very different from Grasshopper. It was more tangy than the ‘hopper and had a reddish tinge instead of the traditional golden hue that I have come to associate with wheat ales. I personally didn’t find it as tasty or refreshing as Grasshopper but Ryan seemed to really enjoy it and thought it was better than the latter. It also seemed to lack any defining finish and seemed quite flat.
The “flatness” likely comes from the bottle conditioning the beer goes through, but in this case, it doesn’t really do anything for me. The beer overall lacked any strong characteristics or defining flavours…
So my first foray into the Kiwi microbrewery scene wasn’t that exciting. That’s fine as we got to tour a few of the great wineries in the Marlborough region of South Island. Stay tuned for more updates on that front!
Till then, sit tight mofos!