Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Croucher ANZUS IPA - be fair to low-alcohol beer

The opening of our pub in Rotorua, BREW, highlighted an opportunity for the brewery. Being a pub dedicated to NZ craft beer, it became obvious that there is a lack of low alcohol yet tasty craft beers - every brewery and it's dog is cranking out 6-10% hop bombs like they are going out fashion, but there are virtually no craft beers below 4%.

This, and meeting a brewer from the UK whose brewery produced about 10 or 14 beers below 4%, was the genesis of the idea for Croucher LOWRIDER our first low-alcohol IPA at 2.7%.

Making a low alcohol tasty beer is tricky - it is a battle between balancing flavour without tasting too thin. We were exceptionally pleased with our first effort, you could smell the hops in a glass of Lowrider from across the bar.

We were then asked to contribute a beer for the GABS (Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular) in Melbourne. They approached a whole bunch of Australian and New Zealand craft breweries asking us all to create a new beer especially for GABS. We knew that the vast majority of brewers would go for something BIG and BIGGER... so we thought we go for something BIG and SMALL (BIG hops, SMALL alcohol). So taking what we had been learning about lower alcohol hoppy beers, we decided to create ANZUS IPA.

For those born after 1984, ANZUS was a military alliance between Australia (A), New Zealand (NZ and the United States of America (US). The alliance hit a slight snag when in 1984 New Zealand decided it wouldn't let American nuclear (powered or weaponed) navy vessels in to our ports.

What we hoped with ANZUS IPA was to give these three nations another shot at working together in harmony - however rather than it being on a military basis, this time it would be on the craft beer frontier... specifically HOPS! Representing New Zealand was the newly released Kohatu, the Australian representative was our new favourite hop Galaxy, and the new US release Zythos.

We were pretty pleased with the result - in all honesty it probably could have had a bit more aroma (we blamed the Aussies!), but the malt character was superb for a 2.7% beer. Paul kegged his heart out, we shipped the beer, and despite a few frustrating delays the beer made it to Melbourne in time for GABS.

Needless to say, we were a little nervous... how had the beer travelled? Would a low alcohol beer stand up to the rigors of trip across the Tasman? And on tender hooks we waited for the first news. Fortunately one of the great things about the world we live in is that mobile phones, websites and apps make feedback easy and immediate. GABS kicked off, and before we knew it there were Tweets and Untappd reviews ticking in.

The making, selling and response to this beer has been a fun ride for us. Thanks to EVERYONE who tried ANZUS IPA at GABS, even if it wasn't to your taste. We appreciate that you were open enough to try a lower alcohol beer (believe us, there are plenty of people who turn there nose up at the thought of a lower alcohol craft beer).

We'll leave you with some of the fantastic (as well as the less fantastic) comments about ANZUS IPA from GABS attendees. It is hard to please everyone, so we don't even try!
Nige & Paul

> "This proves we've been conned into thinking that light beers have to taste like nothing. A really wonderful beer." WHMY, via Untappd

> "Best light alcohol IPA out there.",  VicbeerOclock, Untappd.

> "That was a great brew. You got my vote ANZUS IPA", noizurgy, Twitter.

> "Lovely example of low alcohol, high hopped and bitter pale ale. Awesome." Matt, via Untappd

> "A great hop kick & low ABV. THIS is what should get served at the football." Matt Goddard, via Untappd.

> "I could drink this all day; thin and watered down but all the lovely hop notes I love", LaitueGonflable, Twitter.

> "Excellent light beer" Dean, via Untappd.

> "Amazing for 2.7%", Allan S, via Untappd

> "Yeah that's ridiculous for 2.7... it does have that low alcohol taste to it, but it's amazingly well balanced", Ale_of_a_time, Twitter


>  "Too light in flavour", Ross, via Untappd

> "A little too watery", Jenn Davidson, Untappd

> "Yikes. In need of some aroma hops me thinks", Nathan Costello, Untappd.

> "Hops and not much else, thin", John G, untappd

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Croucher Brewing: A long time between drinks

Firstly, apologies for the lack of blog updates in 2011. It would be fair to say it has been a crazy busy year so far. So we thought it was time to give you a brief run down on what you've missed...
  • Summer was busy with the summer beer festivals. We only did a handfull this year, but they were all great days. Thank you Tairua, Mt Maunganui, Rotorua and Auckland. (Jan-Mar)
  • Paul participated in the NZCraftBeerTV collaborative brew in Auckland - the resulting MASH UP ale is on tap right now at BREW - I'll explain what BREW is shortly (Feb)
  • We closed a deal to open a craft beer pub in Rotorua... scary times! (April)
  • Launched Croucher PATRIOT in bottles - this is our extremely hoppy American Black Ale. Co-incided with our first major keg shipment to Australia (April)
  • DISASTER... while dancing (yes, dancing) in the brewery, Paul danced the sole off one of his boots! they don't make steel-capped workboots like they used too! (April)
  • Some guy tried to sell one of our kegs on Trade Me... thanks to the Hamilton Craft Beer Mafia the culprite was apprehended. (April)
  • Our brewery posted a comment on our Facebook page "Dear Nigel and Paul, where are you? Love, The Brewery." It was a lonely time - we barely saw the brewery for 2 months!
  • BREW | Craft Beer Pub ( opened it's doors after 6 weeks of renovation, council compliance, cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning. It was all consuming... we even had a facebook message from t he brewery  (May)
  • We won medals at the prestegious Australian International Beer Awards - Croucher Pilsner (Silver) and Pale Ale (Bronze). Chuffed!
  • Paul Mecurio came to town and shot a food show, including Paul and the brewery. He cooked Pheasant using Mrs Claus' Famous Christmas Cake Ale. Yumbo. Paul (Mecurio) is a great guy too, LOVES his craft beer!
  • Croucher PATRIOT was the inaugural WINNER of the NZ Beer Cup!! Beating a host of other top craft beers to the title! Super Chuffed! (June)
So there you have it - it's been quite leisurely really!

Please come visit us at BREW next time you are in Rotorua. And thanks for your support.

Nigel & Paul
Croucher Brewing

Friday, December 31, 2010

Croucher Brewing: Highlights 2010

Season's Greetings!

As 2011 approaches, it is a perfect time to reflect on the highs and lows of 2010. Overall, it has been a really good year for us. We have made some huge decisions on the direction of our business, our beers have had some great kudos, and we have been able to grow strongly against a backdrop of recession and increased competition.

  1. We are still talking to each other!
    • That might not sound like such a big deal, but crikey, we (Paul and Nigel) have been working together for like 6 years. The seven-year-itch is just around the corner! Watch this space - next year things could be a very different kettle of fish.
  2. Recognition
    • It has been a great year on the awards front. Firstly Croucher Pilsner won Gold and Trophy for Champion International Lager at BrewNZ 2010... unfortunately we weren't even there to accept the awards (you can read our absentia acceptance speech here).
    • Secondly, Croucher Pale Ale was named Champion Beer in the Capital Times Beer necessities Survey 2010. Our Pilsner, as well as the Pale Ale, were named in the countries Top 12 Beers.
    • This blog was named in the world's 50 Best Beer Blogs
  3. Seasonal Beers
    • One of the most satisfying achievements this year has been the addition of regular seasonal beers to our line-up. The year kicked off with the Vicar's Vice and Cherry Bock, followed by Vicar's II, Patriot (American Black Ale), October Ale, and the most recent Mrs Claus' Famous Christmas Cake Ale. Patriot is up again next, just in time for the summer festivals. We have a few ideas lined up for 2011, so will let you know as they unravel. Making these beers is pure fun and excitement, a chance for us to experiment and learn more.
  4. Steaming pistons! [obscure Thomas reference]
    • After a long period of struggling to keep up with production, we made the decision to investigate contract brewing some of our bottled beers in a facility geared up for larger volumes. Our search led us straight to Steam Brewing in Auckland, they are responsible for handling the brewing of some of this countries better craft beers. It has been a HUGE change for us and our business - but we are very pleased with the beers coming out of Steam, sales are going well, and we hope we are well placed for continued growth in 2011.
  5. New Business
    • A couple of months ago we were invited by Galbraith's Alehouse (the iconic Auckland BrewPub) to have a permanent tap of Croucher beer in their bar. Keith and Ian have long been friends and mentors, so this is a great honour for us.
    • Early this year Hamiltonian's got their own craft beer pub - House On Hood. On the recommendation of Greig McGill (renowned Hamiltonian Raconteur), House contacted us about supplying beer to them. Well it has been a great relationship. We LOVE what they are doing there (please check it out next time you are in Hamilton), and they seem to love our beer too.
    • Exporting - Croucher beer is now available in Australia. We started working with a distributor a few months back, and are now sending regular shipments into and then around Australia. What a cool addition to our business - streuth, we think its grouse that our cobbers over the ditch are keen to head down to the bottle-o to grab a Croucher coldie.
  6. The Release Of Croucher Pilsner In Cans
    • Rotorua hosted the 'Kiwibikes Single Speed World Championships' as few months ago. One of the local bike shops, Bike Vegas, put a team in dressed as cans of Croucher Pilsner. It was a scorching hot day and these guys suffered! The highlight was Dave checking whether the cans would float or sink - check out this AWESOME video (be patient - wait for the 3rd can to come through).

Alas, you can't have it all you own way, and there have been a few road blocks, disappointments, and drama's. Some details, however, are best kept in-house.
  1. The Underground Got Buried
    • At the beginning of the year we were running our own tiny craft beer pub (The Underground Bar) in Rotorua, having opened the doors in May 2009. But by the end of January it had closed down - the restaurant whose liquor licence and kitchen we utilised had decided to go out of business. It was a shame in many ways, as it had been a great way of introducing Rotorua people to craft beer, but the flip side was that we were able to put more effort back in to the brewery.
  2. D Rated Food Outlets
    • For some reason Paul found and then dragged me along to a restaurant in Otahuhu with a D Grade food certificate. They have to display the rating, and alongside it was a sign saying no credit cards. When Paul went to pay by credit card, they allerted him to the signs on the wall - you would think a restaurant with a D food rating on display would be doing everything in its power to NOT alert your attention to signs on the wall!
The biggest thanks goes to all of you who have gone out and purchased our beer this year. We do appreciate your support and enthusiasm, and we consider you a vital part of the Croucher Brewing Team. Thanks, and our very best wishes to you for 2011.

Nigel & Paul
Croucher Brewing

Thursday, November 18, 2010

CROUCHER BREWING: Delightful aroma's made famous in Rotorua are now emanating permanently from within Galbraith's Alehouse, Mt Eden

Here is a press release going out today outlining the fantastic news that as of tomorrow (Friday) Croucher Brewing has a permanent tap at the Mecca of New Zealand pubs, Galbraith's Alehouse in Mt Eden, Auckland. And the good news doesn't stop there for Auckland beer drinkers as we are joined by Yeastie Boys as permanent new additions at Galbraith's.

Delightful aroma's made famous in Rotorua are now emanating permanently from within Galbraith's Alehouse, Mt Eden
Galbraith's Alehouse, located in a historic library building at 2 Mt Eden Road), has long been the bastion of real beer in Auckland (if not New Zealand). As well as serving its own legendary ales produced on-site, Galbraith's has been building relationships with other New Zealand craft breweries. The latest addition to their tap line-up is a permanent Croucher Brewing tap, along with a permanent Yeastie Boys tap.

Croucher Brewing is a craft brewery based in Rotorua, the aromatic capital of New Zealand (if not the world). Croucher Brewing recently had its New Zealand Pilsner named 'Champion International Lager' at the BrewNZ Awards. Galbraith's Alehouse will be rotating the Croucher line up, including the Champion Pilsner, it's highly regarded Pale Ale, and the regular seasonal and experimental beers coming out of its Rotorua brew-house.

First up on the Croucher tap is October Ale - a very traditional English India Pale Ale (IPA), based on a recipe from the mid 1800's. These hop-laden IPA's were brewed strong (October Ale is a hefty 7.5% alc/vol) to survive a long sea voyage from England to India. Other seasonal beers in the pipeline are a Christmas Ale (think hearty Christmas cake in a glass), a Belgian Singel, and just possibly a return of Croucher Patriot – an American Black Ale.

Croucher Brewing ( was set up in 2005 by Paul Croucher and Nigel Gregory. Their goal was to produce hand crafted beer full of flavour that showcases New Zealand hops. While they produce the odd seasonal beer using hops from the USA or England, they remain keen advocates of the characters of locally grown hops – going as far to suggest that some of these New Zealand hop variants could do for beer what Sauvignon Blanc grapes have done for New Zealand wine.

Galbraith’s Alehouse ( opened in 1995 as New Zealand’s first real ale brew-pub. Since then they have developed a loyal following for their classic real ales and European inspired lagers. Head brewer Keith Galbraith and brewer Ian Ramsay source all their ingredients from the UK and EU as they believe to brew authentic (and fresh) old world style beers you need the raw materials from those regions. 


Nigel Gregory or Paul Croucher
The Croucher Brewing Company
(07) 348 5888

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Croucher Brewing: Auckland Road Trip Last Week

It was a big few days. Result; 10,000L of packaged beer all tasting sensational and our first substantial export order to Australia.
We’ve talked about the “why’s” of doing some of our brewing at Steam. Watching the bottling machine fire through pallets and pallets of our beer was a sight to behold – and cemented in our minds that we’re doing the right thing. Thanks to the Team at Steam. Also, we’ve come back down and we’re brewing more beer here today! More beer!

So, we started off with a late trip on Monday, punctuated with a dose of dumplings on Dominion Rd. We could love Auckland for Dominion Rd Dumplings in their own right. Nigel’s a bit of a conservative orderer but still can handle the “hot and spicy pork miscellaneous”-type dishes that I order. Is there a more scary expression in Asian cuisine than “miscellaneous”? At least it was prefaced with “pork”! [Editors (Nigel's) comment: To be fair that conservative orderer did discover the SENSATIONAL Pork and Cashew dumplings that have become the standard by which all others are measured!] The evening wound down with a growler of Galbraith's Bitter & Twisted. Nice!

Tuesday was a leisurely 8.30am start at Steam. What a sight! The newly branded Croucher Brewing boxes as far as the eye could see and the reassuring clink of bottles being taken off the pallet. Got to love the concept of 'staff'! Shane, the brewer, appreciated the significance of the moment and took the first bottle off the bottling line for us to take as a memento. Tell you what, its going straight to the pool room, Darl! He also grabbed a still cold bottle and so we Christened the brew and the day with a Pilsner at 9am. We had a minor drama when realising there had been a communication breakdown – and were helped out of a jam by Jono at a labeling company called Adhesif – a company we had never dealt with before – who turned some printing around in half an hour. We were very impressed. The Pilsner was kegged and bottled by mid afternoon. Home for some serious email time, dinner and then a late night jaunt to the Wine Cellar on K-Rd for a quiet beer and cider.

Wednesday was an even more leisurely start with bottling of the ale held up due to a soft-drink packaging run holding up proceedings. Priorities boys! But before we knew it there was another 5,000L of our product , this time our Pale Ale, all carefully packaged and ready for dispatch.

We picked up Hugh, our lame Auckland distributor. He’s lame in the literal sense after not heeding warnings to wear safety gear while snow-boarding. Libellous Luke also arrived and we sat down for a beer or five while Nigel started preparing pallet orders for dispatch. Now that’s what I call division of labour!

So for the beer geeks out there, we started with Epic Portamarillo – a sensational Smoked Tamarillo Porter which had magic balance. The tamarillo took a while before I recognised it but once my palate adjusted, I got this lovely clean fresh fruit in the front palate with the smoke lingering and holding on. YUM! We moved on to Epic Armageddon and what can I say; this is consistently one of my favourite beers. Another Yum for good measure but I did have to refill my glass JUST to be sure.

Before any of you are tempted to call CYPFS or the SPCA for my treatment of Nigel through this, I should add that he did do a surgical strike on the tastings and wasn’t even close to falling for my practical joke that the beer had run out.

This was good palate priming for tasting our beers. Palate cleansing isn’t quite the right word as our mouths had just been assaulted with hops. To exaggerate this effect, Hugh primed us with his latest brew – Bass Player, an American IPA screaming with Amarillo. Very nice!

So on to the tasting of Steam Brewed Croucher beers. We started with the Croucher Pale Ale. It was delicious! In Luke words – “Dude, thats so hoppy. Its hoppier than Epic Pale Ale” (Luke, can I quote you on that?). By now, the Pilsner was cold and ready for its Christening (Ok – it was Christened the day before, the night before and earlier that morning but you can never be too sure). Despite an element of bottle shock (which settles out after a few days), the Pilsner was sensational! As a great man once said, Pilsner =Yum2. Exactly as the doctor ordered! Croucher Brewing purists will be very happy with the job done by Steam on our beers.

Somehow it was now 3pm and Nigel was only half way through getting the pallets together (what was he doing all that time?) when the Steam guys were ready to go home. We couldn’t really leave the pallets in that state so there was nothing for it but for me to help. Hugh was no good, he was lame and Luke, well he suddenly realised he was busy and scarpered. Well, I haven’t had a sweat on me like that for some time. In any case, pallets were quickly put together and labelled, including a substantial order to Australia.

Job done, we loaded the car with kegs and cartons to deliver around and about and managed to wedge lame Hugh in between 5 kegs and 20 cases beers. He couldn’t have been happier if he was wedged between two supermodels. It was like a Lynx ad for beer geeks. Then off to one of last bastions of the true pint, the Wine Cellar on K’Rd to deliver their favorite Pale Ale.

Our final beer delivery was to Galbraith’s Shrine of Great Beer to make sure they got their Rotorua-brewed Croucher Patriot, American Black Ale. We settled in with Dave and Ian (bar manager and brewer) for a few of the house beers. Bellringers Best Bitter was our pick of the night. A lovely malty, hoppy best bitter. Galbraith’s are the masters of understated balance. Too many beers boast about subtlety but let’s face it, most of them are just bland. They’re like “Oooh, we’re so subtle we left out the malt AND the hops”. Galbraith’s beers have rich layers of complexity with rare malts and hops that they’ve sourced themselves. The best of the best brewed brilliantly. It is an essential place to visit in Auckland, and if you get the chance to meet Dave and Ian, you won't find two nicer blokes [Keith's alright too].

I have to say I got a bit cheeky that night. Ex All-Black Alan Whetton was there drinking Peroni. Peroni at Galbraith’s! Sacrilege! Thankfully, his friend was drinking Sierra Nevada and was busy trying to convince him of the virtues of better beer. I couldn’t help myself so I introduced myself and told him (in a very polite way) that he had to learn off his mate about drinking beer. To his credit he leapt up and bought one. I didn’t hang around to see if he liked it. I’m not a groupie! Three thumbs up to Mr Whetton for being such a good sport.

Suitably lubricated, we ended the evening, and the Auckland Odyssey, with Dumplings on Dominion Rd. Ahhh, the symmetry.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Croucher Brewing Sells Its Soul...

We are in Auckland today bottling the first Croucher beers coming off the line at Steam Brewing. While we continue to brew furiously in Rotorua, we have taken advantage of Steam's expertise to help us produce some serious volume.

Don't worry, we haven't sold out! Rather, we are taking advantage of an opportunity to help us grow our sales and distribution. Over the past year we have been really up against it trying to produce enough beer to meet demand and also provide enough stock to actively grow our distribution around NZ, and God forbid having enough stock to even consider exporting.

A few months back things changed at the brewery, providing us the perfect opportunity to have a thorough look at what we are trying to do and specifically the best way of doing it. Our main issue was that we never had enough beer! We decided to investigate contract brewing/bottling some of our bottled beer. After some analysis, we decided to work with Steam Brewing (winners of multiple trophies at BrewNZ this year, and also the team that work with Epic Brewing). We went up a month or so back and brewed some big batches of Pilsner and Pale Ale.

In the meantime, our Rotorua-brewed Pilsner won CHAMPION INTERNATIONAL LAGER at BrewNZ, thus setting a very high bar for Shane and the team at Steam to emulate. Well, today we bottled the Pilsner brewed at Steam, and it would be fair to say that we are EXTREMELY happy with it! So if you haven't tried it in a while, make sure you get out there and track it down - it would easily be one of the hoppiest lagers in NZ, and is a fantastic showcase of New Zealand hops - to the point where we are re-badging it as a New Zealand Pilsner. Tomorrow we bottle the Pale Ale. Then we are back home to brew, bottle and keg beer there too - and somehow finding time to sell the beers we have just packaged! Anyone looking for a job??

Another exciting change is that, as of this week, we are introducing 500ml bottles to our range. So we will have 330ml bottles primarily targetted at on-premise, 500ml bottles primarily targetted at off-licence and keg beer for these outlets who enjoy fresh draught craft beer. The 500ml bottles have a lovely new label design, which will roll out to the 330's soon too.

The other thing you'll already be aware of is our regular seasonal brews. The latest release is Croucher PATRIOT, our American Black Ale. It has been sent out around the country. The first keg went on at Hashigo Zake in Wellington, with a fantastic review of PATRIOT having already been blogged by a visiting American. On Thursday evening PATRIOT is the guest beer at House On Hood's beer club in Hamilton.

Our next seasonal is called October Ale, and funnily enough will be released in October. It is a recipe based on the early India Pale Ale's from the mid-18th Century. It has been brewed with English malts and English hops, and is shaping up nicely as the perfect foil for all those hoppy American IPA's that are de rigueur. Keep an eye out in mid-October for Croucher OCTOBER ALE.

We hope you are enjoying our blog/facebook/twitter posts, letting you peek behind the curtain at the goings-on at our craft brewery.

Nigel & Paul

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Croucher PATRIOT - American Black Ale

The latest seasonal beer from Croucher Brewing has been shipped.

Croucher PATRIOT is an American Black Ale. Paul succinctly captured its essence, "it is BLACK and it is HOPPY!" Another outstanding literary contribution from Dr Croucher.

This is our first (okay Kieran, it is actually - technically - our second) beer brewed with US grown hops (Amarillo and Simcoe, for you hop boffins), and we have been 'well excited' about brewing it, sampling it, and now (begrudgingly) sharing it.

While PATRIOT is a beautiful black colour, it doesn't have the dark roasty toasty flavours we generally associate with dark beers, so it kind of messes with your brain. It weighs in at a healthy, but not overpowering, 5.5% alc/vol.

You can catch this patriotic drop soon at Galbraith's in Auckland, House in Hamilton, as well as Hashigo Zake and Regional Wines & Spirits in Wellington. And if you are invited, it will be on tap at some dude's* wedding in November. We are hopeful of getting a keg on in Rotorua too - TBA.

As the South will surely rise again, a shipment of kegs has gone to the Southern Isle to our good friend Craig at Beer NZ. A list of southern outlets will hopefully appear shortly.

Please head out and track down a glass of PATRIOT, we think you'll enjoy it.
Nigel & Paul

* Apologies, David, that looks a bit disrespectful - it isn't meant to be, it just sounded hipper to say 'some dude'.**

** Apologies to Mr Neil Miller, the creator of the *'d footnote - I admit to plagiarism of 'Ihimaera proportions'. This blog will NOT be reprinted.

Friday, September 17, 2010

In Absentia acceptance speech

It’s probably time to make an in-absentia acceptance speech for our Champion International Lager Trophy.
Firstly, we can’t believe we missed the greatest moment of our brewery’s life! The best knees-up of the year just seemed a bit indulgent when we had no beer. (Is that the fundamental measure of incompetence – no beer in a brewery?)
 It’s been friggin’ frustrating trying to make the perfect beer! Brewing seems to be one of those disciplines where even the best in the industry have such contradictory ideas that we’ve often wondered if old wive’s tales transcend hard science. The two most recent pieces of advice are “measure the pH every step of the way” and “the first thing you’ve got to do is throw away your pH meter”. So, when you’re trying to learn there are a lot of wrong turns and cul de sacs!
That said there are a few fundamental truths. Clean, clean, clean and get your ferments right. Both easier said than done. “Just get a pitchable quantity of healthy yeast with consistent viability” rolls off the tongue so easily! Also, bugs hide everywhere and when a keen homebrewer’s brettanomyces-infected beer explodes through the brewery it complicates things.  Thanks Albrecht.
Our first acknowledgement (second if you count Albrecht) is to Richard Emmerson. I (Paul) used to flat about 200m from his Grange St brewery in Dunedin.  I discovered that I was different during an impromptu tour. Six of us beer obsessed students were hanging around when Richard invited us to see the brewery. Once the other five realised there was not copious amounts of samples being distributed our number thinned but I was oblivious, absolutely fascinated by the process and the passion of the man for his craft. Richard is also the first man to cross the floor to offer congratulations or words of encouragement.
We’d like to thank Lion Nathan. Not for brewing such boring beers that we had to brew our own, but actually for having been pretty helpful all the way along. The New Product Development team have always been great to bounce ideas off. I recall when we were looking to collaborate on a research project when I (Paul) was with Auckland Uni. The University’s commercial development officer was so bad and so clearly wanted to rip off the big brewer that the project was ruined before it started. Watching the Universities deal with commercial realities is like watching the Eastern Bloc embrace capitalism. Plenty of rorting and incompetence! Thanks Lion for not tarring me with the same brush.
Thanks to Luke Nicholas from Epic Brewing and He’s possibly one of the most confronting  guys in the industry because he calls a spade a spade.  That’s not why we’re thanking him though. He’s been a big part behind the evolution of the Kiwi beer-palate to “big and hoppy”, not to mention the Kiwi beer-vernacular with words like “shedloads”. He’s also been really open with technical advice and direction punctuated with useful criticism like “Dude, it’s got the funk”. We still don’t know what that means.  Thanks to Tony, also at, for calling us up every time a Wyeast order is due because we’re nearly always late!
Graeme Mahy was another big influence right from my homebrewing days. He helped with my original BrewNZ Champion non-commercial Pilsner back earlier this century. His first words to me when I told him of this success stay with me to this day – “Man, you were just lucky I didn’t enter!” Mentor or bitch?
Another major influence has the team at Galbraith’s, Ian Ramsay and Keith Galbraith. They’ve let me brew with them, they have bought our beer and always given sage advice whether brewery, beer or business related. Keith once warned us about someone. As part of this warning he informed me that he (Keith) had more brewing talent in his knob than this person (who for the purposes of this blog shall remain nameless).  Turns out it’s true and not just an idle boast.
Early on in our relationship I brewed with Keith. He thought it funny to see how early he could write me off with his generous provision of delicious ales. 6am brewing started and we kicked off with a Bob Hudson’s Ale. 6.30am a Bellringer’s. 7am a Bitter and Twisted. I can’t remember the next few to be honest. At 10am I was smashed and ready for a sleep. “No more beer” I insisted but Keith cracked a bottle of one of his Australis Romanovs. Whoah - he had me at hello! I woke up sore.
Doug Donelan from NZ hops has also been hugely helpful – love those New Zealand hops. We don’t have a story about Doug – what goes on tour stays on tour! (Sorry Mrs Donelan, that was just a joke, we really don’t have a story about Doug).  
These guys have been massive influences but it on the other side of the froth are our customers. Rohan Evans from the Wine Cellar on K-Rd has been with us virtually since day one. More recently Hashigo Zake (Wellington) and House on Hood (Hamilton) have really embraced what we’re trying to do and have been incredibly supportive.  After our first sale to Dom at Hashigo Zake we had to ask for the beer back because we’d sold out early at last year’s Beervana!
The craft beer scene in Rotorua has taken a turn for the better with Abracadabra, The Rotorua Golf Club and the Great Kiwi Alehouse all taking our beers on tap and putting up with the vagaries of a suspicious small city and a beer supplier who can’t always pull a keg from the shelf in 5 minutes flat!
On the other side of the tap are the punters - the greatest advocates of craft beer. You guys have driven the bar owners to stock craft beers and we’ve been a beneficiary. Mr Greig McGill is perhaps the king of the punters. He’s either really, really, really supportive or he drinks too much. Either way he drinks well and is a great advocate for drinking better.
Thanks to the Brewers Guild – in particular David Cryer and Craig Bowen. The industry would be a poorer place without you. Not only are these guys great for the industry with their work ‘off the ball’ but they are great to do business with.  
Finally, thanks to Kate and Kirsty - our other halves. Not only are they hot svelte blondes but they have given us permission and support to indulge our premature mid-age crises and own/run a brewery. I suspect the trophy means as much to them as it does to us. Thanks Honeys!
 The moral of the story – TURN UP TO THE FREAKIN’ AWARDS DINNER!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Paul's Parliamentary Pie and Pint

Great day yesterday taking the HEF to Parliament. Was quite a start to the day, it turned out my taxi driver was an ex Khmer Rouge child soldier. Fascinating but quite a conversation killer - what do you talk about? I dropped my bags at the Bolton (which incidently had an excellent selection of NZ craft beers!) and went to observe Question Time in the house. I've figured out how it works. You ask a question that isn't a question so your opponent is totally unprepared for the question you're going to pop out as a supplementary!

As fascinating as this was, I left after about 40 minutes to begin a mini solo pub-crawl. Started at the Malthouse for a Three Boys Oyster Stout on the Handpump. Its an oldie but a goodie and when you come from a beer desert its very much appreciated. Managed an argument with Roger from the bar (a patron) about the merits of the Monk's Habit on Tap. I said "Its delicious!" to which he maligned "But its not Monk's Habit!". Got to love the passion.

I made my way to Hashigo Zake for a Rouge Russian Imperial Stout and for good measure back to the Malthouse for an Hopwired IPA. Suitably fortified I made my way to Parliament for my maiden address to caucus.

I may have overstated the significance of the address. Nonetheless, we were eating Pies and drinking the HEF in the caucus room and I did make a short speech plugging the virtues of Rotorua's great pies, made by the Lam family, and New Zealand craft beer. We had a good turnout of famous new and old MP's. Roger Douglas, the statesman, drinking the HEF. Can't work out what I feel about that! Still wish I'd taken a picture. Simon Bridges, David Bennett, Melissa Lee, Michael Woodhouse, Maurice Williamson ... Maybe we've convinced a few of the lawmakers of the virtues of craft beer.

Next there was the option of listening to the debate over the smacking legislation or going to the Backbencher  to watch the live TV7 pub debate,  "Back Benches". We chose the Pub. A quiet Hoprocker later (is it just me or is that beer getting better and better?) we were back to the Parliamentary Billiard room for more HEF washed down with KFC as a bit of a do for the 2008 Parliamentary inductees. This was a great session where I can't believe how candid the politicians were considering there were two members of the media there. Luke Valentine from Classic Hits and Neil Miller, an occasional visitor to The Malthouse. I particularly enjoyed the nerve of Mr Miller successfully executing a jumpshot on the Parliamentary felt.

Two pieces of KFC, three HEFs, and goodness knows how much gossip later, it was all over and time to go home. Fortunately what goes on tour stays on tour.

I'd like to thank Todd McClay for his hospitality and drive to promote two successful businesses from his electorate. Thanks to all of those who came to try our wares - you helped make a great evening. A big thanks also to Luke Valentine from Classic Hits for driving from Rotorua to cover this event.

As a parting question to the house: There were 100 pies and 120 beers for 50 people. There were three left of each at the end of the night. Who ate all the pies?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Brew Day:

Today it's our next seasonal beer, Croucher OCTOBER Ale. The October Ale style harks back to mid-18th Century and the father of IPA's, George Hodgson. It is a pale well-hopped brew using English malts and hops. Once brewed it was intended to be cellared for up to two years, but we don't think we can wait that long! We hope to have this available by the end of October, failing that we may have to rename it 'November Ale' ;-)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Breaking News:

Croucher Brewing has won Champion International Lager at the Brew NZ Awards tonight in Wellington!!!! That is Gold Medal and Category Trophy.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cask-conditioned Croucher Pale Ale going on tap today at Galbraiths

For the first time, we have a cask-conditioned firken (barrel-shaped keg thingee) of Croucher Pale Ale going on at Galbraiths Alehouse, Mt Eden Rd, Auckland today. This is a unique opportunity, so get in there before it has gone.

Other recent highlights have included:
  • Croucher beers were gifted to each of the Irish Rugby squad on its recent visit to Rotorua, so the Irish lads enjoyed a few locally brewed quiets after their match against the New Zealand Maori team.
  • We have been receiving rave reviews of our Pilsner from drinkers at House On Hood in Hamilton, Hashigo Zake in Wellington and The Great Kiwi Ale house in Rotorua, where it is/has been on tap:
    • "Your latest batch of Pilsener is crazy good! We emptied the whole keg at Hashigo last night. Everyone was raving about it." - Dave The Beer Guy.
    •  "Your Pilsner is tasting amazing at House by the way." - Greig