A three-way collaboration between New Zealand’s hottest beer makers is hitting taps around the country this week and aims to boost Christchurch’s ravaged craft brewing community. Blenheim-based 8 Wired and Renaissance brewing companies have teamed up with Wellington’s Yeastie Boys to conjure up ‘Rescue Red Ale’ – an amber ale dedicated to all of the volunteers who helped out after the devastating Christchurch earthquake and Queensland floods earlier this year. The resulting beer, which has been released on the same week as brewing giant Lion Nathan announced they would not rebuild their Christchurch brewing facilities, is set to raise money for the New Zealand Brewer’s Guild Earthquake Fund.
“It’s a hoppy amber ale, which is pretty popular style amongst craft brewers at the moment” says Brian Thiel of Renaissance Brewing, “but we’ve thrown the style guidelines out the window and fermented with a funky French farmhouse yeast to spice things up. It’s quite unlike your average beer.” The twist doesn’t end at fermentation, with the proceeds from sales being donated to friends in the Christchurch brewing community via the Brewers Guild Earthquake Fund. “You could look at it as us putting the sales proceeds back into the rebuild of our competition. But we all love great beer no matter who produces it, and we particularly love Christchurch’s diverse beer community, so giving something back to them is a win-win situation for us all.”
The collaboration idea was first discussed by the three breweries after September’s 7.1 magnitude Christchurch earthquake, then rediscussed after the January Queensland floods, but it was the devastating aftershock of February 22 that finally pushed the idea into reality. 8 Wired’s Soren Eriksen, who was in Christchurch with his family on the morning of the quake explains: “We’d all discussed the idea of a charity collaboration beer since the first ‘quake but it wasn’t until the big one that we really got up to speed. I was downtown Christchurch, with my wife and 5 month old daughter, when the ‘quake hit. We were only seconds away from being covered in rubble. Seeing the devastation and despair first-hand really motivated us to do something for those who weren’t so lucky. Making beer is what we do best so this project really was a no brainer. The collaboration aspect emphasises the brotherhood that exists among NZ craft brewers.”
Collaboration beers have been a popular trend amongst craft brewers in the last couple of years, though they generally revolve around two breweries getting together. Three breweries makes for a quite different dynamic but it certainly didn’t result in too many cooks spoiling the broth. “We came down to have some fun in the brewhouse and to do something nice for our good friends in Christchurch,” said Yeastie Boys’ Stu McKinlay, “and we knew the beer would be great if we just let it work itself out. It was a true collaborative effort and it so beautifully reflects a little bit of each of us. We made up the recipe around the dinner table the night before and we were still making tweaks on the day. We’re loving the result!”
The collaboration around Rescue Red Ale stretched well beyond the three breweries who got together to produce the beer: Malt was donated by Gladfield Malt and Cryer Malt, New Zealand’s two main craft beer malt suppliers, with all of the hops courtesy of NZ Hops Ltd. Documentary photographer Jed Soane, of www.thebeerproject.com, captured the brew on film. There is even a little bit of earthquake ravaged Christchurch itself in the mix, with a special tap badge designed by Deflux – a beer-loving design company whose inner city office was hit particularly hard by the February earthquake.
The beery love does not stop at Christchurch either. All three breweries sell beer across the Tasman, via the same Brisbane-based distributor, so a pallet of one-way “Eco Kegs” was donated by Ampi Plastics of Australia and proceeds from those sales will be donated to Queensland flood relief.
Renaissance Brewing is an award-wining Marlborough brewery that produce top end, ultra premium ales that enlighten the palate and thrill the senses. Renowned as one of the pioneers of craft beer in New Zealand, they have recently won Champion Stout at the Australian Invernational Beer Awards (the world’s largest annual beer competition) to cement their reputation as the southern hemisphere’s masters of dark beer.
8 Wired Brewing launched in late 2009 with the goal of creating wow-factor brews for beer enthusiasts. The company is run by long time homebrewer, turned professional beergeek, Soren Eriksen and his wife Monique. Since the beginning they have focused on very modern interpretations of age old styles, such as “new world” IPA and brown ales, smoked porter and imperial stouts. Recently they have endeavoured into the world of barrel aged beers and have just released the first of these: Batch 18 – A huge celebration of flavour and creativity packed into one massive stout.
Yeastie Boys is the postmodern concept-brewing brainchild of beer activists Sam Possenniskie and Stu McKinlay – the brewers without a brewery. Known for their style-bending beers, including the multiple award-winning and contradictory Pot Kettle Black, the Yeastie Boys have recently attracted a whole swag worldwide press attention for producing the world’s first peat-smoked “whisky beer” – a beer brewed with Scottish distilling malt.