WHAT IS ENVIROSPECIFIC BREWING?
Inviting the unpredictable, welcoming uncertainty, embracing inconsistency...
All beer, well made, is good beer. To aim for a beer where the only expectation is good quality, other than that, expect nothing.
Our land is diverse; in its geography, its people, its climate, its cultures, its natural bounty and bounty of knowledge and backyard inventors. It is this diversity that will be our secret ingredient.
The Germans, in their infinite wisdom, revolutionized (or stunted) the brewing industry with their purity law – water, yeast, barley, hops. Well, their rule has been around too long and its gotten a little boring. Its time for a new ingredient – water, yeast, barley, hops …and local diversity (the first four are probably negotiable if we can find a way).
And so… to the road! We pack our brewery onto our backs and hit the state highway, bound for where ever we are unbound. In search for brew inspiration, blindly committing to whimsical ideas plucked from impulsive creativity and chasing them with the enthusiasm of yeast in a fresh wort.
With our mobile brewery we will scour the country side, pasture and town, mountain and lake in search of a beer not yet made. Upon finding we will flocculate, unpack and set about converting that place, essence and character into a beer.
The whimsy, impulse, the path less trodden, the pint less pulled, the elusive mystery. For to make a ground breaking beer, we must find ground that is not yet broken. In real terms, this means long side roads without sign posts, knocking on hermits' doors, throwing this plan and the map out the window.
HOW IT WORKS
Plan it, 'spec' it, refine it, brew it...
First we run out some test brews to develop a loose recipe, then we pack our portable brewery onto our backs and head to the hills or plains, car parks or skate parks. The aim with the recipe is to leave enough unplanned, enough flexibility to absorb the impact of the environment.
This adventure is filmed and edited by our master of cinematography Cam and presented here and on Youtube for you lot to soak up.
While Cam masters the footage, we master the recipe, contemplating what the environment has thrown at us. The herbs we foraged, the techniques we improvised, the nuances forced upon us... maybe even cultivate a strain of yeast. From here we can take it to the big clean kettles and brew something for the shelves.... and you get to taste from the bottle what you’ve seen from the screen.
Every 2 or three months we’ll be on the road again doing another spec. It takes this long to research the area and design the prefect beer to go with it.
PLACE AN ORDER
The Whanganui Harvest Ale has been brewed...
Orders are being taken for the first commercial run of 100 Envirospecific beers. They are currently undergoing bottle conditioning and will be available after approximately three weeks.
The Whanganui Harvest Ale is a classic pale ale... with a twist obviously. Firstly it is brewed with nothing but the wild hops found around Whanganui. Secondly the grain bill is made up of about 10% acorn meal. And lastly the brewing liquor has a hefty addition of gypsum to simulate the high lime concentration of the Whanganui river.
Bottles are $20 plus postage and handling ($10 for one bottle or $15 for three)
Mail us now to secure your order.
A Wellington Harbour paua porter
In October we hit Wellington Harbour with our portable brewery and a plan to construct a paua porter out of the environment. We departed Eastbourne on the Sea Nymph and tracked our way around the harbour gleaning all the crucial ingredients.
Our first mooring was for a local over-grown garden that Mike had heard whisper of Jerusalem artichoke... It turned out to be globe artichoke, Prize ones at that, so those were off our list. We did however find some beetroot still hanging on under the wild mat of freestyling weeds. This would certainly provide us with the earthy starch to add to our mash.
We then headed to Karamu Coffee and met Brandon in his small roastery crammed with character. We got a little roasting lesson and some green Ethiopian beans to muck around with on the island later... rookie roasters with a cast iron pan and a campfire.
Now we needed fresh water. Well as fresh as we could do. There was nothing flowing on the island so we took the nymph up the hut river, Unfortunately we were on the back of some very heavy rain, so the river was a little opaque. We loaded some liters on to the boat anyway, buoyed by the assumption that what of the muddiness had not boiled out, broken with the trub or flocculated with the yeast would be disguised by the blackness of the porter style.
We beached up on Ward Island and got a boil on. The mash seemed to go in really well, we left it to do its thing and headed off for some island forage. We summited it, found a good healthy flax that could loan us its leaves for sparging; perfect to break the force of the hot water on the delicate filter bed of grain. We found a good bloom of wood ear fungus for our dinner and then headed to the water.
Tangaroa was kind enough to offer us one yellow foot paua. Very lucky as there was nothing but kina and giant mussels otherwise. Though a lean haul, it was none-the-less enough and we had everything we needed for our paua porter. We brewed into the night and everything went reasonable smoothly, hopefully the beer is also smooth.
Paua porter recipe
2 row pale
fresh seaweed for clarity
This is what we used on the island, the final paua porter recipe will be refined out of this after some considerate tasting sessions.
The fermentation was a little slow but eventually got there. The separate 7 liters of wild fermentation is something altogether different though! An abominable yeast was captured on the island. It has been very slow to work and is only really hitting its straps now more than a month later. It is furiously top fermenting, and when the top of the fermenter is pressed the gas escaping is directly from the sea, I was sure early on that we had caught some octopus eggs or something and were going to get some tentically legs forcing their way out eventually. I am honestly concerned about drinking this one! Although the small sneak preview from the siphoning has not been poisonous.
The bigger main brew, safely fermented with Burton Ale yeast, has been bottled and the first one sampled with pleasant results. The major thing noticed is the mild smokiness lent by the boil over the open fire–it was a roaring driftwood fire and the kettle was buried deep in it. It may have also been the beach-roasted grains but less likely, we are doing some test brews now to sort out exactly where it came from and how to control it. The paua is not strong, but if you look hard enough for it I’m sure there’s something there... probably the amount of presence we had hoped for, though we might tweak it up a little.
We will keep refining this brew, the subtle smokyness goes so well with the even more subtle saltyness, Before 2014 is out we intend to have some limited edition bottles of the paua porter on the shelves, keep an eye out.
Massive thanks to Brandon at Karamu Coffee
Garth Cheyne and the mighty Sea Nymph
and of course Cameron James Brown for his increadible camera work.