Stakes high at home brew fest

Local brewers are offering the public a taste of their tipple and a go at haggling for some well-kept recipes for the third consecutive year this weekend.

Around 30 dedicated home brewers from as far afield as Wellington and Auckland will converge at Huinga, offering beers, lagers, stouts, ciders, honey mead, limoncello, wine and home made chutneys and sauces.

This year the stakes are high, as for the first time the brewers will compete for the chance to brew a batch for Mike's Brewery.

Vaughan Wood, chief brewer of the Eastern Taranaki Home Brewers Association, which organises the event, says each brewer has his or her own touch, and this is what makes home brews so exciting.

He and mate Peter Ardell set up a brewing station at his home at the old Huinga School. They grow hops on the property, and harvest Manuka leaves and other local vegetation, as well as "anything from the garden" to add to the kit beer base to flavour their brew. It is a bit trial and error. If we find something that works, we will replicate it.

"But a brewer's recipe is his secret."

Vaughan grew up on the adjacent farm and attended Huinga School. He started brewing 20 years ago, but gave it up. Three years ago Pete convinced him to try again.

Pete, aka Pete the Plummer, lives on a couple of acres at Douglas growing apples, plums, feijoas, peaches, pears and collecting anything retro. He has been brewing for around 30 years. He likes his beer "natural and wholesome" and says the hard times of the 70s got him interested in brewing his own tipple 60c for a 750ml bottle of beer (current cost).

The first fermentation takes around a week, and it is then bottled for the second fermentation and for the beer to develop its head, which takes a few more days. The alcohol content is around 4-5 per cent. We keep it at a comfortable level because we want to enjoy it for the evening. We love brewing; just the whole process, the sharing, the trying new things. We would recommend it to anyone to have a go."

The festival is on from February 1-3, with tickets for the whole weekend $30 (children under 18 accompanied by an adult are free), or $10 for sampling at the hall. Every $30-ticket will go into the draw for a Woodzy Rocker.

There is free camping, good tucker, a horseshoe pitching competition and music.

- Stratford Press

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