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Yeastie Boys to release innovative Spoonbender ‘wine beers’

June 12, 2014


‘Innovative’ is one of the most overused adjectives in beer making at the moment and it’s use in a media release causes a subconscious, actually it’s usually a physical, cringe. Despite the number of wine/beer hybrids, I’m hard-pressed to think of a beer made using wine turned into candi-sugar, a crystalized invert sugar (look it up here, and an explanation of how to make it and its uses here). Needless to say, whether its a why-isn’t-this-beer-everywhere beer such as Gunnamatta or an it’d-be-an-interesting-idea-to…-type beer, such as the barrier-pushing but largely undrinkable Rex Attitude, it’d be worth seeking out.  [Ed]

Media Release

The Sly Persuader

Yeastie Boys to release innovative Spoonbender “wine beers”

Leading brewing visionaries and beer activists, Wellington-based Yeastie Boys, this week announce the worldwide release of their “Spoonbender” collaborative series.  The three Spoonbenderbeers, which have been brewed in collaboration with Australian winemakers Some Young Punks, use botrytised viognier in an innovative brewing process that sees the wine turned into candi-sugar before being refermented in the beer.

The creation of these unique ales, believed to be a world first, sees the Yeastie Boys continue the ground-breaking work that saw them awarded the Morton Coutts Trophy for Innovation in 2011 for their heavily-peated “whisky beer” Rex Attitude. They are also well known for their flagship beer – Gunnamatta, an Earl Grey IPA, which was awarded champion beer at the Great Australasian Beer SpecTapular 2012.  Yeastie Boys’ Creative Director, Stu McKinlay, discusses the background: “We garnered a reputation for experimental beer pretty early on, in regards to both the ales we brewed and the way we went about establishing our business, so we tend to attract the odd crazy idea from friends… the guys from Some Young Punks certainly fit that bill and when we had breakfast with them, on the introduction of a mutual friend in Adelaide a couple of years ago, the ideas just started bouncing around.  I walked away really buzzing but it took two years to actually bring the idea from concept to keg and bottle.”

“The trickiest part of making these beers was convincing Customs to allow us to import the Punks’ wine excise-free” said Yeastie Boys’ Directive Creator, Sam Possenniskie. “The process of creating the candi-sugar removes the alcohol from the wine, so we didn’t want to pay tax on booze that was never going to be consumed.  It took close to a year between the initial enquiry to Customs and the sign-off of our exemption!” However, red tape was not the only curve ball thrown into the creation of these beers, as McKinlay elaborates: “The wine had changed so much, in the time between my original twenty litre trial and finally getting around to making them commercially, that I had to tweak my recipe ideas once the wine arrived in the country. We’re pretty happy with how things have turned out!”

The Spoonbender name, like many of Yeastie Boys creations, is bound to cause as much intrigue as the beers themselves.  McKinlay explains: “It’s a play on ‘spooning’, which is our unique term for collaboration.  We use the term to get across the fact that our collaborations tend to be a little more intimate than the usual.  We collaborate with friends and family, rather than just another brewer that might give us some sort of street cred.  ‘Spoonbender’ itself comes from an old family insult that my father used when anyone had any sort of off-the-wall idea… Uri Geller, the original spoonbender, was a popular topic in our household and brewers collaborating with winemakers seemed like a fitting example of this metaphorical bending of the spoon.”  The names of the three individual beers (The Sly Persuader, The Sun Before the Darkness and The Last Dictator) are inspired by Crime & The City Solution’s 1990 album Paradise Discotheque.

All three Spoonbenders will be available for pre-release sampling at the Society of Beer Advocates Winter Ales Festival, Hunter Lounge, Victoria University, on Saturday 14th June.  They will be released nationwide from 30th June, through Yeastie Boys’ exclusive distribution partner Federal Merchants, and available in Australia from August through Phoenix Beers.

About the Spoonbender beers:

The Sly Persuader (Blond Ale, 6% alc/vol)
The Sun Before the Darkness (New World Tripel, 10% alc/vol)
The Last Dictator (Imperial Porter, 10% alc/vol)

More information at www.yeastieboys.co.nz/spoonbender

About Yeastie Boys:

Yeastie Boys is an award-winning Wellington-based brewing company, without their own commercial brewery, who brew super-premium beer all over the world (from Boston to Adelaide and, mostly, in Invercargill).  The brainchild of Stu McKinlay and Sam Possenniskie – two of New Zealand’s leading beer activists – the Yeastie Boys have been picking up trophies, poking their tongues out at convention, and receiving critical acclaim since their launch in 2008.

The Yeastie Boys are leftfield enough to be one of the few breweries who regularly receive hate mail (for their infamous Rex Attitude) but are pleased to report they occasionally receive love letters too!  Their beers are available in New Zealand, Australia, USA, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Italy and United Kingdom.

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8 Responses to Yeastie Boys to release innovative Spoonbender ‘wine beers’

  1. Michael van den Bergh on June 12, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    I may be one of a few, but I take umbrage at Rex Attitude being described as “largely undrinkable”. From the opening of the bottle until the very last drop, that beautiful smoky bouquet held its own strongly and pungently. And the flavour! Beautiful malt driven peat smokey deliciousness. I honestly don’t know how people cannot like it. I cannot imagine having that conservative a tongue. I am a smoke fan who finds even the Schlenkerla beers a bit tame and in view of the fact that we do not have anywhere near the representation of smoked beers that we should have, I find your disparaging remarks alarming. Away with your tame tongues, I say! We should be raising the Yeastie Boys aloft our shoulders as heroes who put the BBQ back into beer!


    • Stu as "Stu" on June 19, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      Oh, Michael… how you make me blush!

  2. GRR on June 12, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Erm, isn’t ‘crystalized invert sugar’ just old golden syrup … which magically uncrystalises when you warm it anyway?

    • Stu as "Stu" on June 19, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      this is certainly not golden syrup… invert sugar can be anything from a clear liquid through to a burnt-tasting hard toffee.

      Inverting sugar is simply a process of splitting sucrose to fructose and glucose. Usually you do this with heat, water and acid.

      Here we use wine for the water/acid part. It retains the wine flavour, removes the wine’s alcohol, and makes a fermentable product. We find it works better than simply putting grape must in with beer.


      • GRR on June 19, 2014 at 12:44 pm

        Yep I understand what invert is, or brewing sugars. I’ve made a couple of types on the kitchen stove…not with wine though :)

        I understand why it’s a good idea to invert sugar too. But why crystalised?

        • Stu as "Stu" on June 19, 2014 at 1:51 pm

          It’s not crystalised – it’s just used as a liquid. Only just noticed Matt’s inclusion of that word in the intro.


  3. Stu as "Stu" on June 12, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Largely undrinkable…!!? Sheesh.

    • Editor on June 12, 2014 at 4:34 pm

      As always, prefaced by IMHO Stu, but you already knew my thoughts. I love the way your mind works even if the result is essence of bandaid and bushfire.

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