Our tasting the Moutere Inn’s recently released Nuedorf Ale started a discussion about beer styles. The Nuedorf Ale is the second in their Moutere Brewing Company range, which is inspired by the historic German Settlement of Sarau.
Says co-owner Andre Cole: “We want to true to style, to the history of the Moutere region, and to the history of the Inn.” Of course commercial realities require that the beers be directed towards modern tastes. After a bit of research, the decision was made to model a beer on German altbiers.
The pilsner style was invented in 1838, though lagering already existed at the time. These newfangled beers soon became the rage, and pushed out the old style beers. Old is alt in German, and altbier is one of the few ale styles still made there. Dusseldorf altbiers are the most famous. They are well hopped, medium bodied brown ales with a smooth malt balance. They can have a distinctive, flinty mineral finish like that found in some dry wines.
Given that those light lagers now associated with Germany weren’t as common in the 19th century, one can assume that any beer brewed in the new settlement was darker and was fermented warm, with whatever yeast was at hand. The alt style would be a possible match.
Andrew and his business partner Dave Watson hadn’t had an altbier. Alt beers are not commonly available in New Zealand, with none being brewed commercially here in recent memory. For inspiration, several imported beers were sourced, including Alaskan Amber, an American take on the style.
Dave Kurth hadn’t tried an altbier either. He is the brewer at West Coast Brewing, where the Moutere beers are contract brewed. After “a little homework” he came up with “an alt with a Kiwi twist from the hops that bring something extra.”
The result is a beer that Moutere Brewing is describing as a German Draft Ale. The German Munich and chocolate malts give it a roasty biscuit character and an amber brown colour, and the pilsner and caramalt add to the complexity. The malt sweetness is soon swept away by the hop character, which is assertive and, apart from being Kiwi, is true to style. Much to Fritz’s disappointment, he didn’t detect a mineral character. (Further inquiries found that the beer isn’t brewed with altbier yeast.)
In its first three weeks of release, customer response has been positive. Andrew feels the regulars at the Inn like having a local brew, while the tourists respond to the historic aspect. “There have even been a few inquiries at the brewery about getting it in bottles.”
Moutere Brewing Company aims to make balanced drinkable products that appeal to their customer base. Says Andrew: “We’re not trying to make any big beers that will knock your socks off.” The 4.6 percent alcohol makes it a safe session quaff, and the overall flavour journey is not that different from a pumped up New Zealand Draught. Those hops do linger a bit, making this a good accompaniment to fish and chips.
Future plans include two more beers, and a select number of taps within the region. With an alt beer and Munich helles in production, the next beers will need a bit of help if they are going to keep to the German theme. Most problematic is the pale ale. There is no German equivalent, but there is a commercial demand, so the guys will have to work something out.
When asked about a dark beer, Andrew pointed out that at contract volumes they can’t sell enough dark beers at this point and keep them fresh. The next beer may well be a shandy (a mixture of beer and lemonade), but it won’t be known by its German name: radler.
Originally published in the Nelson Mail.