New Zealand hops are distinctive but brewers are also looking to other native ingredients to give their beer some spice.
Anyone who saw the Discovery Channel’s Brewmasters episode featuring Sam Calagione’s journey to New Zealand will be familiar with his collaboration with Luke Nicholas and Epic Brewing. Using native tamarillos, or tree tomatoes, the pair created Portamarillo, an “imperial sorta-porter.”
Another of the interesting natives is Captain Cooker from a tiny brewpub called the Mussel Inn at Onekaka, on New Zealand’s South Island. Brewed with leaf tips from the Manuka, or tea tree, the recipe was based on the first beer brewed in New Zealand, by Captain Cook in 1773. The 4 percent beer is red-brown in color and malt-driven. The Manuka lends the finished beer a strong note of Turkish delight. This ale inspired possibly the best dessert matching I have ever tried. One of New Zealand’s finest restaurants, Logan Brown, matched it with cardamon and rose water panna cotta with pistachio wafers and rhubarb to win the 2010 national Beer & Chefs competition. It was an inspired, delicate match that showed, at its best, that New Zealand is up with international leaders.