This Friday is International Beer Day and Tuatara Brewing Co. has got you covered
The guide to International Beer Day clearly states that one should "enjoy beers from other cultures. It's a big beer world out there, full of wondrous new flavours. Be adventurous, try something new."
And at Tuatara Brewing Co. they’ve taken these words very seriously, promising to create consistently memorable and unique Aotearoa beer experiences.
"We’re in the midst of a packaging facelift at the moment and it's ended up being a great opportunity to look at our beers – what they’re called, how we describe them, what feelings they evoke, when they’re enjoyed,” says Tuatara chief executive Richard Shirtcliffe. “And what has become very obvious is how many of our beers have evolved from Kiwi twists on traditional styles to almost unique styles in their own right.”
Tuatara’s Pilsner, Helles Lager and Aotearoa Pale Ale (their top sellers) are great examples of the Kiwi beer revolution. Creating a NZ American style APA, or uniquely NZ pilsner or lager certainly didn’t happen overnight.
One of Tuatara’s most cherished beers is its Aotearoa Pale Ale. Originally an American style pale ale, this "Kiwi" pale ale evolved out of a massive shortage of American hops after a fire destroyed most of the hops available. Undeterred, Carl Vasta (brewer and Tuatara founder) being of the number 8 wire mentality, and the Tuatara brew crew, decided that life would go on and NZ hops would fill the gap. “Little did we know what we were creating. What we thought would be a stop-gap measure, has led to one of our most popular beers” says Vasta.
Far less dramatic but as effective has been the evolution of their pilsner and lager. “We started out making traditional styles, the German lagers, Czech pilsners but made locally, so people were getting them fresh rather than stale imported beers.
"After a few years we decided to use more New Zealand grown hops and barley. It was a slow process, though, as the initial quantities didn’t meet market demand. As that supply grew and new varieties evolved like the Nelson Sauvin, our taste and aroma profiles changed and led to beers that are quite different to beers made from international ingredients,” Vasta says. “We (as brewers) became braver about using more NZ ingredients as New Zealand palettes developed and appreciated the nuances in the beers we were creating. We knew that hops grown here would have unique aspects being grown under different conditions but how and if that would lead to styles that drinkers here and overseas would enjoy was another matter.”
Sixteen years on, this proud Kapiti Coast brewery is even more committed to embracing its Kiwi roots. Like their little battler of a namesake, Tuatara are determined to punch above their weight and make the most of what NZ has to offer to make distinctive, flavourful, aromatic Kiwi beer.