Brewer of the Month | Birkenhead Brewing Company
For Birkenhead locals, Brad Boult and Steve Simms, what began as a passion for beer was brewed into a bottle of hoppy goodness. We couldn’t turn down the offer to share a few with the BBC boys at their pub and chat about their story… cheers!
The two friends came to discover craft beer through different avenues. Brad was at a Wellington bar where he tried a Mountain Goat beer from Melbourne. “Something clicked inside of me and I haven’t drunk a mainstream beer since.” Steve was trapped at an event serving very bad beer in San Francisco, so being the epicentre of craft beer he undertook a search to find the best beer in the city and his palate for craft beer was awakened.
Combining their passion for craft beer with sales and marketing backgrounds, the duo decided to create their own style of craft beer in their local hood, Birkenhead. With a goal to create quality craft beers with a hyperlocal feel, Birkenhead Brewing Co was born and they’ve been quenching the rest of New Zealand’s thirst for craft beer ever since.
What came first, the beer or the pub?
We started planning the beer and decided we needed somewhere to show it. We made our first batch one Sunday back in November 2015 and found the pub in the heart of Birkenhead on the Monday. We knew we were onto something when, on opening day, there were queues of locals waiting outside our door. We only got the keys 30 minutes before we opened so we had to quickly change the stock out, change the beer and we haven’t looked back! It was really heartening to see the community come to support us.
What’s the best part about having the pub?
It gives us a chance to meet our customers, chat to them about craft beer and listen to what styles they like to drink. We can also transition people across from mainstream beers to a tastier quality beer. Our beer is designed to share, so our pub is the perfect place to do just that!
What are you trying to create with the BBC range?
For us we want make quality beer that people will love and drink again. There is so much more to beer than just an ordinary industrial style. Our range has distinct tastes and styles to offer something for everyone’s palate. When people sit down with a glass of our craft beer, it becomes a conversation piece. They talk about the beer; the aromas, tastes, flavours and the experience. You don’t get that with industrial beer.
What’s the difference between a craft beer and an industrial beer?
When industrial beer is made, it’s designed for a mass market and the process to brew takes as little as one week. Our craft beers are brewed locally in a small batches. They take up to four weeks to brew and six weeks of conditioning just to get the flavour right!
How do you come up with the names and labels for all the beers?
We want to maintain a hyper-local approach so there’s a story behind every beer. Our first beer, Kauri, comes from the local Birkenhead Kauri forest, the second-largest Kauri tree forest in Auckland. Our Rawene stout beer is named after the street that connects Birkenhead village to the iconic Chelsea Sugar factory. The Bunker APA is blended with three American hops and takes its name and design from the ammunition bunkers at Kauri Point, where US troops were stationed during World War II. The Pilsner is usually the first craft beer our customers will try before then developing a palate for our other beers, so we call this one the Gateway beer. Its image of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, viewed from Birkenhead, is a nod to the fact it’s the gateway into our range.
How do you recommend getting the best out of a beer?
Drinking from a glass will give you a full-flavoured experience. When beer is poured, it’s able to breathe, so everytime a bubble pops from the bottom of the beer, it’s releasing a little burst of aroma, and aroma plays a huge role in how we identify the flavour of beer. Drinking it straight from the bottle or can is essentially cutting off your sense of smell and changes the way the beer tastes. There are many styles of glasses you can use, but that story is for another day! We also recommend drinking it well within three months of brew date to be enjoyed at its freshest.
What are you doing to introduce craft beer to others?
Part of the fun that we’ve seen over the past 2½ years is the explosive growth for the industry in general. We have a radio segment on Radio Sport called ‘Which Craft’, where we talk beer, review styles and encourage people to try our craft beer. It’s something that both genders can enjoy too. There’s a beer for everyone in the fridge!
NEW THIS MONTH is the BBC boys latest brew, Siri the daughter or Ninkasi. It’s the team’s second collaboration with the Ninkasi Brewing Co. ‘Siris’ (pronounced “suh-rees”). The Mesopotamian goddess Siris is known as the patron of beer and was daughter of the Sumerian goddess of beer, Ninkasi. A rare one-off beer that craft beer aficionados will no doubt worship.