The latest from Atlas

Thursday, 22 May 2014

What the Hop? Insight Into What Hops Actually Are...

What the hop?
What are hops? As beer drinkers "hops" it's certainly a word we are familiar with and generally people know that hops are associated with/are an ingredient in beer. But what are hops? If you're not really quite sure then read on; your days of blankly nodding comprehension or bluffing to your beer-buff friends will be no more!

Hops are the the female flowers of the hop plant and in Latin that's Humulus Lupulus. Hops have been used in brewing for over 1,000 years with the first records of their use dating back to 1079 in the Hallertau region of Germany. They are used mainly to flavour beer adding bitterness to balance the sweetness of a beer's malt. They also impart aroma, act as a preservative, have mild anti-bacterial qualities and play a part in the foam quality. 

Before hops herbal mixtures were used to add bitterness to beers. It's thought that once people noticed that hopped beers were less prone to spoiling then the herbal mixtures (known as gruit) were abandoned in favour of hops.

When brewing, hops are added to the kettle and boiled with the wort. The longer hops are boiled for the more bitterness they impart and the less aroma. Although hop variety has a role to play in the bitterness/aroma stakes too. 

The hop flowers, or cones, contain alpha and beta acids and also essential oils. The essential oils are what give the aromas and the alpha acids the bitterness. You get certain type of hops which are high-alpha and so are very bittering such as Pacific Gem and Green Bullet. Whereas Motueka and Pacifica are aroma hops. There are also hops that are dual purpose, the famous Nelson Sauvin being an example of one of these.

If you ever hear the term "noble hops" that refers to some traditional hop varieties from Europe namely Hallertauer Mittlefruh, Saaz, Spalt and Tettnanger. These hops are low alpha and therefore are high aroma hops.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Hello Wes!

The new governor
As we said goodbye to Amy yesterday (with a total of seven dunks in Lake Wakatipu) today we say hello to Wes, our new General Manager whilst Amy's abroad.

Below is a Q&A with Wes so you can get to know your new governor a little better...

Tell us a bit about yourself...

I'm Canadian and I grew up in a small town just outside of Toronto, Ontario and I love the outdoors and working with people. My previous employment positions include swim instructor, wakeboard instructor, white water rafting guide and nearly every position with regards to restaurants and bars.

What's the beer like where you are from? Also, what's your favourite beer from home?

It's always cold beer in Canada. If I'm not drinking Tim Hortons while riding my dog sled to work I usually drink Rickards Red, which is a classic amber ale. Or Rickards White which is a flavourful wheat beer best served with a slice of lemon. 

Like many North Americans I love hops so pale ales and IPAs are always a favourite. Sleeman's Honey Brown, Creemore Springs Brewery and maple syrup are also up there!

What brought you to QT? What other countries have you visited?

Queenstown was always in my sights and I always intended to get here, settle in, do a Winter season and then just see where the town leads me. After two years in Australia it will be nice to see snow again!

The first country I travelled to was Costa Rica to do some volunteering and I haven't really stopped since... USA, Germany, Switzerland, France, England, Turkey, Greece, Bali, Fiji, New Caledonia, Italy, Australia, Vanuatu, Croatia and Bermuda. There's still so much more to see though.

How did you end up working at Atlas?

When I first got to town, instead of going door-to-door with my resume I wanted to find a place that I really liked. I discovered Atlas and loved it so I approached Amy about the possibility of work. She checked out my resume, gave me a trial and 5 months later I am here with a whole new family!

MTB-er, skier or boarder?

Snowboarder the whole way. We don't have the biggest hills close to my home town but I was lucky enough to get an amazing season in at Whistler.

Any other hobbies?

Yep, I'm a jack of all trades and master of none. I played American football and rugby at school. Throughout Uni I did some practical courses - rock climbing, white water canoeing/kayaking, winter camping etc. I really enjoy water/board sports - white water kayaking, surfing, snowboarding and wakeboarding. Basically anything outdoors will do it for me.

What's on your iPod right now?

My friends would not be surprised to find Bob Marley on my iPod. After that anything depends on the day.

What's your favourite beer at Atlas?

This is a tough one. I would have to say the Mischievous Kea is one a beer I can always count on. I'm loving the London Porter right now, it's great for winter. I enjoy the rest of the Emerson's brews too.

And finally, how do you like your Atlas steak cooked?

There's so much time put into an Atlas steak, many people don't realise this. After watching the hours the chefs put into the demi glace, the Cafe de Paris butter and the preparation of the meat - it's made me appreciate it even more. For $19.50 you just can't go wrong and I'll take mine rare, thanks.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Goodbye Amy

Head honchos: Wes and Amy

Next week we will be saying goodbye to our General Manager, Amy, as she heads overseas on the 21st of May for a few months of travel. She will return though and whilst away will be sending updates for the Atlas news page about her adventures abroad. In the meantime, taking the helm at Atlas, will be the very capable hands of Wes McAllister.

Here's what Amy had to tell us about her upcoming expedition.

Why are you heading off and how long are you going for?

I'm heading off to avoid another Kiwi winter in a cold house! I have my NZ residency now so I've got the flexibility to take off for a few months, which is great. Also my boyfriend is from the UK so we're heading to Europe so I get to meet his family. I think we'll be gone for about 4-5 months.

What are you hoping to do whilst you are away?

Learn to ride motocross tracks in England and also do heaps of downhill biking in France. I'll also be checking out some UK breweries and whilst in France a few wineries!

Which countries will you be visiting?

China, the UK, Holland, France, Italy and possibly more!

Anything/anyplace that you are looking particularly forward to?

Spending 6 weeks in a van with my boyfriend, Rich, just going with the flow and seeing where the wind takes us in Europe. Downhill biking in The Alps; catching up with all my old mates in the UK; going to the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Fort William, Scotland and hopefully cheering on our local legend, Kate Fluker, at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow!

Last shift?

Tuesday the 20th, I'll be clocking out at 5pm.

Anything else you want to add?

I hope the Atlas team have a wicked Winter and that there's load of snow for all you local legends!

Bon voyage, Amy! We hope you have the best time overseas.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Altitude's Live Brew Demo at Pie and Pint

Eliott Menzies with his brew kit
Whilst enjoying pints and pies at Arrowtown Autumn Festival's fantastic Pie and Pint afternoon, we bumped into Elliot Menzies. Elliott is the founder of Altitude Brewing Studios and was in the midst of brewing a special festival beer with a pretty impressive piece of kit. 

Like Eliott's other beers, which are inspired by the Wakatipu, this festival offering was fittingly inspired by Arrowtown. He experimented with some smoked malt to impart a little smokiness into the brew – pretty reminiscent of the lovely wood smoke you can smell at this time of year. The brew is called Autumn-n-ale and will be ready at the end of the month. 

Eliott gave us a talk through the brew process.

The mash
So a little brewing context first for the uninitiated: when brewing the idea is to first to turn a starch source (the malts) into a sugary liquid called wort, then convert the wort into beer via a fermentation process with yeast.

The image (left) shows what's know as the mash tun. First the malt - that's the grain in the picture - goes into the mash tun and hot water is added. This soaks the malt and converts the starches to sugars, some of which (depending on the temperature of the mash and the type of malt) will be fermentable. 

In this recipe Eliott used Carapils, Light Crystal and Smoked malts.

The temperature in the mash tun is around 67c; it's not heated but ideally is kept warm and insulated. The malt is soaked for around an hour and once that hour is up more water is run through it to rinse off all the sugars and colour. This part of the process is know as the sparge. The initial one hour soaking results in a mixture with an almost porridge-like consistency. So the malt is sparged to create more volume so in the end there's more beer but also to dilute the sugars to what is required for abv standards. The resulting sugary liquid is called the wort.

The kettle
From the mash tun the wort travels down a tube into what's know as the kettle.

Inside the kettle: this smelt amazing!!
At this stage in the process the liquid wort is boiled for around an hour. Boiling evaporates the mixture a little and also kills off any enzymes left over from the mash. Hops are also added at this stage and can be added at various points during the boiling. The longer hops are boiled the more bitterness they will impart but less aroma.

Eliott added different hops at the various stages. He added 20g of Nelson Sauvin for 60 minutes to get a nice bitterness into the wort and to balance the natural sweetness. Another 20g of Nelson Sauvin at 50 minutes and finally a combination of Nelson Sauvin and Cascade to give the beer good aromas and mouthfeel. 

Cool it: the heat exchanger
After boiling the hoppy wort is cooled in preparation for adding the yeast. It's passed through a heat exchanger to aid with the cooling process. This is really important as yeast is susceptible to high temperatures and would die if added to a hot wort. No active yeast would result in no fermentation - which would mean no beer!

Autumn-n-ale: ready to ferment
And finally, the mixture flows into the fermenter the yeast is added to the wort and then left to do it's magic for around a week. During the process the gravity of the brew is checked to see if the sugars are turning into alcohol.

Once most of the alcohol has been produced in this primary fermentation it can be transferred into bottles or casks to continue fermenting a little more.

Eliott's festival brew, Autumn-n-ale should be ready at the end of May and we hope we get to try some.

If you would like to try Eliott's beers check out the Altitude Brewing Studios Facebook page or call into Atlas as we often have some Altitude brews on tap.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Red, red wine: Stockman's Station Pinot Noir 2011

One of our locals
Of course we love beer at Atlas but we know it's not everybody's favourite tipple. As we head into the cooler months sometimes it's nice to enjoy a drop of red. (It's also great with steaks!)

So here is the new Pinot Noir we have on the menu at Atlas, Stockman's Station 2011.

The Stockman's Station is made just a hop, skip and jump away in Bannockburn. Because, if you're going to serve a Pinot Noir, it's got to be a Central Otago one!

Pinot Noir is really easily matched with many types of food.  Of course, within in any wine style there's lots of variety flavour-wise but on the whole Pinot Noir has great versatility when it comes to matching it with food.

You can expect cherry, plum and spice flavours in the Stockman's Station along with some interesting savoury notes of leather, licorice and wood smoke. It's an elegant drop with a soft texture and a lingering finish.

As fore-mentioned Pinot Noir is really versatile. It's a great option if you're out and one of you is eating fish and the other meat. A classic pairing for Pinot Noir is duck, so you could try it with our duck tapas or team it with an Atlas steak. It is also a nice match for more Asian inspired flavours. A good match would be:

Thai beef salad with crisp mung beans, carrots and cucumber in a sweet chilli, mint and coriander dressing | $17.50


Whole baked sole roasted with miso glaze served with salad | $18.50

Stockman's Station Central Otago Pinot Noir | 12.9% | $9 gls $39 bottle

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Things you didn't know about beer: Porter and Stout

Emerson's London Porter settling
In light of our new nitro pump installation this week, pouring you delicious Emerson's Porter, here's some interesting info about beer for your delectation. Our theme today - Porter and Stout.

  • Have you every wondered when drinking a Stout or Porter, poured on nitrous, why it looks like some of the bubbles are sinking? That's because they are! Bubbles in the centre of the pint are rising and this creates a wee current in the glass. As the bubbles in the centre rise so the liquid on the outside of the glass is dragged downwards, taking the air bubbles down with it.

  • The origins of Porter are in London in the 1720s. It became really popular due to it's strong flavour; the fact it took longer to spoil and fact that the alcohol content increased with age. London pumped out Porter over the next few decades with large amounts being exported to Ireland. Porter is often regarded to be one of the world's first commercial beer styles.

  • The name Porter is thought to come from the river and street porters who favoured this style of beer to drink.

  • Guinness Extra Stout was originally named "Extra Superior Porter" changing to Extra Stout in 1840. 

  • The difference between a Porter and a Stout? Well originally it was a reference to the strength of the beer. A particularly strong Porter would've been called to an "Extra Porter", a "Double Porter" or a "Stout Porter". Eventually the name "Stout Porter" was just shortened to Stout. Today the differences aren't really so distinct with some beer enthusiasts arguing that there's not really much difference at all. Whilst others saying the the malts should differ or Porter should be lighter (as in style as opposed to strength).

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

One Day Only – write up and thanks!

A huge, big, grateful dose of thanks to everyone who donated such wicked prizes and also to everyone came to Atlas on Sunday to support this year's One Day Only event. What an awesome night! It was a ton of fun and we managed to raise a grand total of $3,021.00 for QMTBC! Money that we are sure will be put to great use. Thank you all so much!

A massive shout-out once again to all the businesses who got behind this year's One Day Only event by supporting it with such generosity. Big gratitude to:

Outdoor World, SkylineCardrona Spa Hire QueenstownBreak OneOff Road AdventuresGibbston Valley, Danielle Argent, La Blond Emily Cournane at Sport and Therapeutic MassageAltitude Brewing StudiosTuatara BreweryNew Zealand Mountain Bike MagazineRabbit RidgeOutside SportsPinewood Lodge and Babysitting Queenstown

Thank you all for your awesome support! 

If you weren't lucky enough to scoop up one of the prizes in the raffle click on the links so you can find out more about these fantastic businesses, many of which are Queenstown based.

If you missed this year's event it all kicked off with the League of Gentlemen mega-train from the top of the gondola, down Hammy's and finished at an expanded Atlas, as we took over neighbouring Farelli's for the evening. We had local photographer Callum Wood on hand to get some awesome snaps of the mega train and were also able to score Callum's services again to get some brilliant shots of everyone enjoying the festivities. 

We had DJ Justin on the decks spinning tunes and the raffle kicked off at 8pm with at lot of very stoked prize winners adding to the party atmosphere. The grand prize winners of the evening were Monica Mixcva and Nicole Kirch. Monica won the $2500 worth of bike upgrades from Outdoor World and Nicola won a 14/15 gondola pass from Skyline. Pete McInally also scooped a season's pass from Cardrona.

Thanks go also to Indri, Jo, Rosie and Amy for rolling up their sleeves and pitching in with a few volunteer hours selling tickets. Thanks also to the Atlas and Farelli's crew for their usual high levels of service. 

Check out the pictures below and we've loaded the full album to our Facebook page. What an awesome event, we are so grateful to everyone who contributed to it. It's seems a bit sad that's it over now but at least there's always next year to look forward to!


Everyone gathering for the League of Gentleman mega train

Even Thomas the Tank Engine made an appearance

Atlas pumpin'

Farelli's pumpin'

Raffle tickets being sold

High five!

Indri wins one of the Cardrona prizes
Rock, scissors, paper to win the Babysitting Queenstown voucher
Sweet as: Nicola Kirch wins the Skyline 14/15 pass
Stoked: Our grand prize winner, Monica Mixcva who won a $2500 for biking department at H&J Outdoor World. 

Emerson's London Porter now on nitro from today!

Pouring the good stuff
Today we have had a brand new tap installed at Atlas! We're got a shiny new nitro tap with a keg of Emerson's London Porter tapped and ready to be poured into your glass.

What's a nitro pump? Most beers are pulled using CO2 or system that uses a mixture of CO2 and nitrogen to get the beer from the keg into the glass. Traditionally, it was hand pumps which used air along with a bit of elbow grease from whoever was pouring the pint. 

Using nitrogen alone makes for a really smooth pour which is great for dark beers, porters and stouts which serve well with little, or even no, carbonation. The result is smooth, tiny, creamy bubbles - Guinness being a well recognised point of reference for this.

If you are unfamiliar with Emerson's London Porter you can expect a dry, mellow brew with hoppy characteristics. It's firm-bodied without being heavy, has a creamy texture and the palate is roasted malt and coffee. 

If you are familiar with the porter it's definitely worth giving it a whirl now we have it on the nitro pump, it's a whole new experience!

Emerson's London Porter | 5% | $9 pint

Pump and pint

Waiting for it to settle

A quick sip for quality control

As always, please enjoy responsibly.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Some pics from Pie and Pint

Mmmmm pies
Some pictures from the brilliant Pie and Pint at last weekend's Autumn Festival. Craft beer and pies on the village green in Arrowtown - what an awesome way to spend a Sunday afternoon!
Love Arrowtown in the Autumn

Enjoying some tastings
Altitude's Eliott Menzies' brew demo

Mr Emerson pouring some Porter
Altitude's Mischievous Kea on Hand Pump

Craft beer under the canopy

Thursday, 1 May 2014

One Day Only the prize list so far

Only a few more days to go until our One Day Only fundraising party for QMTBC. We're so excited about this event and once again have had loads of really generous prizes donated from many Queenstown businesses.

This is a community event so everyone's welcome to come along and enjoy a great night out, all for a great cause. We hope you can make it!

Raffle Prizelist so far:

$2500 worth of bike upgrades from Outdoor World

2014/2015 Skyline Gondola Pass
Cardrona Winter Season pass
2 x Adult Day Lift Tickets for Cardrona
3 Day Spa Hire from Spa Hire Queenstown
Voucher for 2 for Clay Pigeon Shooting at Break One
Thrill Buggy package at from Off Road Adventures
12 x Bottles of Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir
2 x Magnums of Gibbston Valley Pinot Noir
1 x Pig plus use of Atlas spit roast for a day
2 x Bowen treatments with Danielle Argent
$100 La Blond voucher
1 x 1hr sports massage with Emily Cournane at Queenstown Therapeutic Massage
12 x big bots of Mischievous Kea IPA from Altitude Brewing Studios
12 x big bots from Tuatara Brewery
3x12 month subscriptions for New Zealand Mountain Bike Magazine
10 x Rabbit Ridge day passes
1 x Super Bright LED light from Outside Sports
Accomodation at Pinewood Lodge

We also have a baby sitting voucher up for grabs that will be decided by a round of rock, paper scissors kindly donated by Babysitting Queenstown

You must be at Atlas to win the prizes with the exception of the main prize. However, to win the main prize, you must answer you phone when we call you or it's re-draw!

Keeping checking our Facebook events page for more prize updates. Come and join us for an awesome night out!

See you at Atlas on Sunday!