You. Drink. This - Brewpubs #4
Ah, the humble brewpub. Going right to the source of fresh beer, it’ll never fail you, providing a cosy corner to escape from an ever anxiety-inducing world on cold, wintery days or a windless little sunspot in the summer in which to sup on said fresh beer. You. Drink. This. pays tribute by chatting with three peeps, who spend their days brewing, pouring and overseeing - what else? - fresh beer!!
Jane Dixon, Owner, Founder & Manager of Mussel Inn, Golden Bay
Kia ora from The Mussel Inn! I pretty much run the show here, together with my partner Andrew, our sons, grandchildren and wonderful staff. We’ve been doing it for nigh on 30 years now, so things roll along pretty nicely most of the time.
As well as having our brewery right here, one of the main attributes of The Mussel Inn is the music that we host. It takes quite some organising, so that is one of the balls I have to keep in the air, whilst not dropping any of the day to day ones.
When I’m not at the pub, I’m likely to be out for a walk somewhere in this beautiful neck of the woods.
Captain Cooker Manuka Beer is my ‘go to’ and my all-time favourite. I don’t deviate much from that when I’m at home, though right now I’m enjoying our strong dark Black Rhino too. It’s good to get away and try other beers too, though I tend to steer away from the super hoppy ones and choose something from the hand pull tap if there is one.
That said, there’s nothing like a G&T to make me feel like I’m on holiday!
My underlying ethos is to try and do things in a way that is as gentle as possible on the earth. It’s always a tricky balance to be a ‘doer’ and to get things right in this modern world. To this end, last year I went through the process of calculating our Carbon Footprint and we became the first Carbon Positive brewery in Aotearoa.
Braeydhen Owlinson, Head Brewer at Fork & Brewer, Wellington
I’m the brewer at Fork & Brewer in Wellington. I’m also the Brewer/Blender at NINEBARNYARDOWLS – my personal brewing project, 100% dedicated to spontaneously fermented ales, based in Gladstone, Wairarapa. The two are vastly different – both conventional and unconventional (as far as brewing in New Zealand is concerned).
As far as personal interests go, I like to ferment things – not just grain, grapes, fruit, honey and other sugars, but also vegetables (i.e., sauerkraut) and meat (i.e. salami). I love exploring new parts of the country and travelling with my partner, Hannah. I’m really into gaming – online, board gaming, tabletop games such as Dungeons & Dragons, and more recently, trading card games such as Flesh & Blood. I like food and wine, but then again, who doesn’t? In a previous life, I was a Turf Manager so naturally, I have an affinity towards a well-manicured lawn. Horticulture is also an ongoing interest of mine after studying it intensively at both secondary and tertiary levels – recently, I was interviewed by a botanist in Italy about the use of native New Zealand flora in brewing. I’m also studying Italian, Latin and, more recently, picking up where I left off with.
Currently, I’m drinking a can of the collaboration I did with the boys at Double Vision Brewing for this year’s Hopstock – Hopunzel, the fresh Rakau-hopped Belgian IPA. We went a bit out on a limb and decided to take a New Zealand-Belgique approach to the otherwise monotonous sea of fresh hopped pale ales, IPAs and pilsners that frequent the event every year. We brewed what we as brewers wanted to drink, and it turned out great. The hops played more of a support role to the pronounced and often-polarising stone fruit esters that the infamous Ardennes yeast does seem to produce, but we were all happy with it, nonetheless.
Currently, an obsession I have is with a trading card game that I mentioned earlier –Flesh & Blood. Flesh & Blood came into my life at a time just before the world descended into turmoil during the 2020 Covid19 Pandemic. Although we couldn’t play it physically i.e., in person – it didn’t stop the growth of the game and the fantastic community from also growing online. It helped to keep me sane during lockdown. When the world opened up again (well, at least in New Zealand) and I finally got to play it in person is when I really became hooked. I’ve met some great humans and made some good friends already in the short time that I’ve been playing, and I very much look forward to seeing what the future holds for it.
Jessie James Foley, Head Brewer at Sunshine Brewery, Gisbourne
My name is Jesse James Foley. I’m the proud head brewer at Sunshine Brewery in Gisborne on the beautiful East Coast of New Zealand. I can’t say I’m a total outlaw, but I like to think I tip-toe on the edge of conformity. I'm a Yank from sunny San Diego, California, and ended up in New Zealand about eight years ago.
I have always been a student of alcohol and I love the way a good wine, cocktail or beer are a landmark for memories and good times. Coming from a half-life of hospitality, I have always been fascinated with flavour and how sensory our everyday experiences are. It’s not a total surprise that I ended up on the production side of things that have influenced my life and travel around the world. Like many in the hospitality sector, I had to renounce my time and position in the forefront, and was going to trade it all in for a hammer and saw, going back to my building roots. That’s when my amazing friend and mentor, Eliott Menzies of Altitude Brewing in Queenstown, talked me into one last hurrah, asking me to open their taproom in exchange for some schooling and on-site experience to become a commercial brewer. Under his study and my own thirst for learning, I dove straight in and have let brewing take over the majority of my time and energy (which I am sure my partner Gwen can attest to). I have now taken the reins at Sunshine Brewery and couldn’t be happier. Warm, sunny, North Island vibes, freedom to express myself as a brewer and a great team of people backing my (sometimes) ludicrous ideas all make for a perfect home. brewing. I’m also studying Italian, Latin and, more recently, picking up where I left off with.
What am I drinking at the moment? First up, has to be a Sunshine brew, and my newest creation, Stockies, a 4.2% Session Hazy that gives the impression you’re drinking another creamy tropical New England IPA, but allows you to spend a little extra time, and enjoy another pint with the people that make life grand. Now, if this question was literal, I would say 8 Wired 2015 Grand Cru, as I am drinking this barrel aged quad whilst I write up some witty answers to a slew of questions. I love barrel aged beers, sours, pastry stouts and everything that pushes against the status quo of beer making. I also love the nuance and perfection of classic styles. I just really love experiencing something I haven’t tried. Being able to take in the moment and imagining that I'm a fly on the wall when someone was conjuring up a new recipe or style. For good or bad, each one is quite meaningful. I am, by no means, a snob when it comes to drink - I am only inquisitive. Constantly looking to reverse engineer a recipe, or recreate a solid food into a liquid. What I really want is to recreate my favourite classic cocktail, the Negroni, into a beer. Is it reinventing the wheel? Maybe, but the heart wants what the heart wants.
This… What am I obsessed with? All kinds of things, like every other person, I would think. I have a short attention span and become obsessed with most things I get into (as my partner would happily attest to). You’ll have to forgive me for getting philosophical in the sense that I am just obsessed with life, today. By that, I mean the present. The world today, and how it relates to beer, wine, spirits, pop culture, social media, music, science, sport, politics, identity, revolution, change, progression. I really feel that it has never been any better for our species than Today. We are living in the best times humans have ever experienced. Yes, there are shortfalls, and we should all strive to be better and progress. But I like to think that every day is a good day, today will be great, and tomorrow will be better.