Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Bar/fly: Home brew

Winston Aldworth learns a few tricks from a top brewer

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson

I'm a home brewer. Not a particularly good one, mind you, but a happy one.

I brew with my friend, Jubt. Typically, we'll drink a couple while we cook the brew and - a few weeks later - we'll drink a couple more while we transfer the beer from fermenters to bottles. Then the whole cycle begins again.

Sometimes the end result is pretty good. Sometimes, when you pop the cap, the beer erupts out of the bottle, painting the ceiling like a malt-scented scene out of Ghostbusters.

But I'm pretty confident about my next batch.

This weekend, at Wellington's Beervana festival of ale-lovers and hop-heads, Harrington's Savvy Sauvin will be unleashed upon an unsuspecting, beer-swilling public.

On a cold morning in July, I joined Harrington's head brewer Mark White to whip up an entry for Beervana's Media Brew Competition.

Without giving away too many secrets, I can tell you Savvy Sauvin is a a pilsner with a bit of a grape thing going on.

Beyond that, I can't reveal the the full list of secret herbs and spices.

Harrington's has been a stalwart of Christchurch brewing for a couple of decades now. If you've enjoyed an ale from one of the younger breweries in town, the odds are good it was contract brewed by Harrington's.

I have to ask the inevitable question about that gets put to all Christchurch businesses. "We were lucky," says boss Carl Harrington. "Turns out there's solid ground underneath our building."

The brewery is right opposite what was once Lancaster Park, which became Jade, then AMI and is now a disused waste ground.

"That'll come down sometime," says brewer Matt Thomson. "We got to watch it getting built - and we'll get to watch it coming down."

John Harrington comes in each day at lunchtime and makes cheese toasted sandwiches for everyone at smoko. I'm also having a "brewer's lunch". Yes, a beer. Tough job, this.

It is a tough job, actually. Well, parts of it. Someone has to shovel the used wort out of the massive kettle. As I'm of less use when deciding delicate matters such as the amount of hops or the alkaline levels, the boys hand me the shovel.

I'm not sure what all the other entries will bring to the Media Brew competition. Fairfax's contender has let slip that she's merged those two natural taste bud bedfellows: Steinlager and jet-plane lollies.

Anyway, I'm sure Savvy Sauvin will give them all a good run for their money. And brewing is always its own reward.

May the best beer win.

- NZ Herald

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