Like any good business idea, the concept of a Tinder-style hook-up of trans-Tasman brewers for a special box of beer came from being stymied on another project.
Earlier this year, New Zealand Hops Ltd sent a selection of Kiwi hops to Australian brewers and asked them to make some beer. The resulting mixed dozen was sold by Carwyn Cellars, a prominent bottle store and bar in Melbourne. Carwyn Cellars contacted Matt Eats, general manager at Beer Jerk in Auckland, and asked if he would like to sell the box here since Beer Jerk imported a lot of Australian craft beer.
“That proved way too complicated,” Eats said, “because it required 12 different export licences for one box of beer as each brewery was exporting a separate product.”
Then it dawned on him: if he married 12 Kiwi brewers to 12 Australian counterparts to brew bespoke beers on each side of the Tasman, then Beer Jerk and Carwyn Cellars could each offer a unique Aussie-Aotearoa mixed dozen without having to worry about the import-export hassles.
The dozen beers are available in a box but will also be pouring at a dedicated Beervana stand at Sky Stadium on August 19-20.
“When you’ve got 24 voices talking about it on either side of Tasman, well 26 if you count us and Carwyn Cellars. It’s a great way to bolster New Zealand beer on both sides of Tasman.”
Beer Jerk came up with a list of 12 breweries in New Zealand — a mix of big names like Liberty, 8 Wired and Deep Creek, and smaller outfits such as Shining Peak in Taranaki, Canyon in Queenstown and Alibi on Waiheke Island. Carwyn Cellars drew up their 12 names and the match-making started. Call it a blind-dating service for brewers. Some were matched because they make similar styles, others were married on philosophy.
“For instance One Drop [in Australia] and Duncan’s [from Paraparaumu] are the best at making ridiculous, over-the-top pastry stouts, so they were a natural fit. Zeelandt [Hawke’s Bay] and Sailor’s Grave [Victoria] both have a unique European twist. The owner of Canyon is originally from South Australia so we paired them with a South Australian brewery.”
Each pair of breweries works out what they want to brew — although Beer Jerk had power of veto: “We wanted the box to have balance and variety, we didn’t want a dozen hazy IPAs!”.
And the variety is great with plenty of variations on IPA (cold, black, hazy, fruited) along with pastry sours, fruited sours, a smoked beer, two farmhouse ales and brown ale.
Beer Jerk and Carwyn Cellars will order what they think they can sell, and the breweries can sell anything left over.
“With a small brewery like Shining Peak we might take most of it, but with someone like Deep Creek, with larger batch sizes, they’ll have plenty of their own to sell.”
One aspect that proved difficult was labelling, as some of the breweries have quite distinctive looks.
“With labelling, we left it up to breweries to decide on it — we were hoping for coherent labelling on either side of the Tasman but that was a bit much of an ask given the different personalities, and some breweries have a distinct visual identity that they don’t deviate from.”
Eats says the opening up of trans-Tasman travel makes it an ideal time for breweries to cross-pollinate each other’s market.
“Some New Zealand breweries in the line-up are looking at establishing their name in Australia, which has a huge appetite for New Zealand beer. But it’s also about building relationships, sharing knowledge, and learning from each other.”
The box of 12 x 440ml cans is available from the Beer Jerk site for $120.
The trans-Tasman beers
Deep Creek (NZ) X Mountain Culture (AUS) Fruited Hazy IPA
Alibi (NZ) X Bracket (AUS) Cold Black DIPA
8 Wired (NZ X Rocky Ridge (AUS) Manuka Smoked Plum Lichtenhainer
Duncan’s (NZ) X One Drop (AUS) Mango, Banana, Dragonfruit Pastry Sour
Shining Peak (NZ) X Dangerous Ales (AUS) Kiwifruit Pavlova Sour
Altitude (NZ) X Hawkers (AUS) HDHC Hazy IPA
Rhyme & Reason (NZ) X Hop Nation (AUS) Hazy IPA
Canyon (NZ) X Shapeshifter (AUS) Dry Hopped Kiwifruit Saison
Beer Baroness (NZ) X Spotty Dog (AUS) Trans-Tasman IPA
Double Vision (NZ) X Currumbin Valley (AUS) Cold IPA
Heyday (NZ) X Sailor’s Grave (AUS) Navel Orange Farmhouse Ale
Small Gods (NZ) X Last Word (AUS) Biscuit Brown Ale