The latest from Atlas

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Muttonbird Beer: Five minutes with Richard Emerson pt1

Richard Emerson
We were really proud to be the first establishment to serve Emerson's in Queenstown when we opened in 2009. So we thought it was high time we caught up with "Mr Pilsner" (to quote one of our regulars) himself. 

How was Beervana? Were you serving anything different? Did you make any good discoveries?

Beervana was great this year, nearly 10,000 punters came along. We felt good about our stand as we had nine beers on tap! This was great the for the customers and it was fun watching them make decisions about which beer to and watching the happy looks on their faces.

We also had our Festive Brew, Titi Stout. According to the festive rules one of the four major ingredients in beer (malt, hops, water and yeast) had to be omitted. Our Festive Brew had no hops! So instead there were a few Muttonbirds and watercress added for flavour. Just mentioning those ingredients raised a few eyebrows and of course people wanted to try it!

As Beervana was busy and along with the liquor rules it was difficult for us to have the chance to try other beers but the quality of the food was gorgeous!

We've heard that you were inspired to start brewing upon returning to NZ after living in Scotland and enjoying the ales there. Were there any beers in particular that inspired a brewing epiphany? If so, what were they?

That’s right, after appreciating delicious flavoursome beers in Scotland and Britain, it was hard to live with the mediocre bland fizzy draught beers in NZ. Those beers were Belhaven, Caledonian, Theakston’s and there were many other fine examples. Oh god, I want to go back and re-live those beers!

Tell us about the first beer you brewed that you were really proud of. 

As a home brewer I did some brewing with malt extract but I was never satisfied with the flavours in the finished beer until I did my first ‘all-grain’ mash in Mother’s kitchen in May 1986. The flavours were there! I was ecstatic with the results. The euphoria of creating the right flavours didn’t last long as I was banished from mother’s kitchen for creating a fine sticky mess and hogging the kitchen for the whole day. A good friend gave me space in his garage for me to continue the research and development process.

Any other memorable/funny moments from your early brewing ventures?

Oh where do I start? There’s quite a few…one of the first things I learnt while at the garage brewery, was not to drink with visiting mates while I was brewing – less mistakes and burnt fingers!

A memorable occasion was when Chris O’Leary from Hawkes Bay’s Roosters Brewery visited the 4 Grange Street Brewery bringing with him some authentic German style Weisswurst sausages to enjoy with the Emerson’s Weissbier. I realized we were not well organised and had nothing to cook the sausages in.
The Electric jug was pressed into service with the sausages and the button reset each time to keep it boiling…aha those Weisswurst were great with tall glasses of frothy Weissbier!

The electric jug was never quite the same…

We had a few more questions to put to Richard to check back next week for the 2nd part of our chat with "Mr Pilsner".