Ahh sweet Nelson! With its sunny days and arty-like existence, you can’t go wrong – so when Keith’s big sister and other half (also called Bob) came over to visit from Old Blighty it seemed like the perfect place to find some breweries under the sun. We found three in the Nelson and Marlborough region which we hadn’t previously reviewed, two by chance including the one we review in this issue; Lighthouse Brewery.
After a solid Saturday morning market session, we hit the high street in search of re-hydration after a previous day on the grapes when we literally stumbled upon Lighthouse Brewery on Hardy Street. This has to be in contention for the world’s smallest (legal) brewery as it’s a small shop with a few barrels in it and some brewing vats. Unfortunately the place was shut, so with a bit of peering through the window, picking up the history from the local visitor information bureau and of course purchasing the beers from Regional Wines and Spirits when we returned to Wellington, we were able to come up with the following:
Dick Tout, the owner, is an outright beer nutter and set up this brewery come home-brew retail shop from the love of home brewing and popular local demand to sell his quality beers. He brews in 200 litre batches, which is small even by micro-brewery standards, but this small brewing batch allows for a better concentration on quality. He completed an intense one week residential ‘introduction to malting and brewing course’ back on October 1999.
The name of the brewery ‘Lighthouse’ is named in honour of the lighthouse to Nelson’s harbour, which is the second oldest in New Zealand – not a lot of people know that!
Overall, these beers reminded us of a school boy losing his virginity, a lot of promise and energy at the start but unfortunately ‘it’s all over rover’ thanks to a premature finish leaving you with little memory to remind you of the occasion.
Tasman Bay Pilsener (4.5%)
A light gold and straw colour which has a fairly thin texture. The aroma is very light hoppy with whiffs of honey. The flavour again is mild with a crispy clean hoppy finish, but not the usual length you expect with a pilsner. It won a silver medal in the 2002 Australian international beer awards. This would go well with nachos with a mass of sour cream and of course a ruby.
Haulashore Bitter (3.6%)
A slightly cloudy beer with a teaky / rimu colour. It had a good foamy head and gives a nice creamy caramel aroma. This caramel comes out in the flavour along with the honey. Although the flavour is generally subtle. It has a light and dry finish and surprisingly little bitterness. It won a bronze medal in the 2002 Australian international beer awards. This would go well with fish and chips (go to that place at the top end of Cuba Street, by the fish factory).
Dick’s Dark (4.5%)
Named after the man himself! A deep dark mahogany colour with a thin head, giving biscuity fruit mince aromas. The malt definitely comes out in the first quaff with a light bitterness, however, the finish – although smooth – doesn’t linger. It won a bronze medal in the 2002 Australian international beer awards. It would be great with a mixed grill, especially if you really barbeque it.
Classic Stout (5%)
A black beer with a thick creamy head that you could happily use to shave with! The aroma has an interesting perfumy sweetness to it, and the rose definitely comes out in the flavour along with a malt chocolate and coffee sweetness. The coffee remains on the back palate, but again it’s short of length. It won a bronze medal in the 2002 Australian international beer awards. Try this with Jess Clayton’s kumara mash recipe from Salient issue 3 with some dirty fat sausages.
These beers can be found at Regional Wines and Spirits, The Malthouse, Bar Bodega and Imbibe. There is a rumour that the Eastside bar will be stocking some of the beers we review but we were unable to confirm this – you could always ask and let us know!