The Hunt

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The Hunt

By Parley Reynolds – MOA Asia Market Manager


Part 2.

Pretty quickly I realized that hunting is mostly just walking quietly up hills holding a gun.

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While riding up front in the ute with our guide Dave, I was given the 101 on hunting in the area. He is seriously a knowledgeable guy whose family has lived on the station for many generations. If you ever get the chance, look him up on his Stronvar hunting page on facebook, I really recommend the experience of joining a hunting tour. I have lived in New Zealand for most of my life but this was my first time to the high country of Marlborough. Driving through the seemingly endless maze of vineyards up into the surrounding hills in Marlborough is a seriously stunning drive.

While translating Dave’s chats for the Chinese boys in the back, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride for being a kiwi and having the opportunity to share the history, culture and scenery of the area with our overseas visitors. Looking down from the hill tops you could see large pockets of native bushland poking out amongst the vast expanse of open paddocks cleared for grazing animals. The braided rivers snaking their way through the ragged hills is a sight to behold. The large white domes of the Waihopi Spy Base are  an interesting addition to the otherwise quintessential kiwi landscape.

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My mind wandered to what it would have been like 600 years ago when 3.6m tall moa were

roaming around the area.  How freaky would it be to have seen a giant Haast eagle swoop down and pluck up a moa to eat. What a wild place it would have been! Being slightly out of breath from where we left the car 50 metres back, I could only imagine how much more difficult it would be to run up to thrust a taiaha or a hit your prey with a patu. I’m glad we had the guns.

We must have seen hundreds of wild animals running around the surrounding hills that afternoon. Plenty of deer, pigs, goats, stouts, even a couple of wild cats. I was really surprised how plentiful the wild life was in the area. Still, we were having trouble finding a red stag. Low hanging cloud was starting to settle in and according to David, the stags were all up together hanging out on the top of the ridges. Apparently around this time of year the males rarely come down and mix with the females who are caring for their young. Those useless buggars!

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Red deer were introduced to New Zealand by British settlers in the 1850’s.  Their vision was to turn the island nation of New Zealand into a massive wild game hunting park. Not being a native species to the area, the red deer encountered no predators (apart from humans) and their numbers flourished. The deer numbers in New Zealand have skyrocketed to the point where they are now considered as noxious pests, eating into virtual extinction a number of native plant species from the forest floors that absorb water and prevent flooding in the land below.

Since the 1950’s the New Zealand government has supported a programme of dropping 1080 poison in native forests to eradicate introduced pests – mainly the bushy tailed possums from Australia. These giant rodent looking freaks kill and eat the eggs of native bird species. When not busy eating unborn babies, possums are out and about, spreading free TB love amongst themselves and any other species they can get their grubby little mitts on. They cause millions of dollars in damages to dairy and deer farmers each year whose herds get infected with TB from these red eyed, foamy mouthed, rat faced zombies. Basically, no one seems to really like them. Although, I have to say that possums do have the most lovely, softest and fluffiest fur to touch. Possum scarves are just heaven darling! The introduction of possums from Australia to New Zealand in the 1830’s was actually an attempt to ‘enrich’ New Zealand’s wildlife and encourage a business opportunity through fur exports. Oh cheers bro.

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The use of 1080 is an ongoing divisive issue in New Zealand played out amongst a number of interest groups. 1080 indiscriminately kills deer, pigs, goats, birds, dogs and other mammals that eat the poison (must be delish!).  There have been no cases of human deaths by 1080 poison in New Zealand. Yet. Symptoms of 1080 poisoning would include vomiting, twitching, seizures for up to 21 hours before an ultimate death by lung failure and heart attack. Nice… Luckily no 1080 was on the menu where we were as none had been dropped on Stronvar Station. Geez, between eating poison and getting a bullet I know which one I’d prefer!

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With no luck on the stag front for us, the weather starting rapidly deteriorating with increasingly heavy rain accompanied by darkness settling in. We decided to head back to camp and retire for the night. I was expecting a tent or hut but we actually had really nice accommodation with mattresses and everything! Gareth cooked us up a mean feed of steak and eggs and David had brought up a selection of beers from the brewery. There was no cellular reception or wifi at all up on the station though.  It was actually quite strange. We got to talk to each other without the constant distraction of beeping screens. It was a great chance to pick David’s brain on his 41 years of brewing experience and what he had in mind for the velvet brew once we shot a stag. Confidence was still high for the morning hunt and it only seemed to improve as the beer supplies dwindled.

This wireless-less environment lends itself to telling tall stories accompanied with made up facts and supporting statistics that cannot be immediately checked on Wikipedia. The kinds of stories that go hand in hand with a dozen beers. The best one I heard was the story of the ‘bulldogger’ crews who would fly through the valleys and jump from helicopters down onto wild deer. The bulldoggers had to wrestle them to the ground, tie them up and fly them to  a fenced off area. These were the early days of commercial deer farming operations around the country. Sounded a bit full on to be real but I watched a youtube video of “the last great adventure’ when I was back in civilization and it’s true! Thousands of red deer were rounded up this way. The footage is pretty wild.

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The beers had all been drunk and we were also growing tired of unsuccessfully trying to coerce a moth to fly into David’s mouth as he now sat snoring on the couch. We decided to get some sleep for the early morning hunt. 

First thing in the morning we were back in the truck just as the first signs of sunlight were peaking over the ridgetops. Deer usually come out to feed during the early morning and late evening hours. We definitely noticed the increased deer action as herds sprinted away from the road across the hills when they heard the hum of the approaching vehicle. The rain from the night before made the air crisp and cool but the roads on the way up the hills were a bit much for me. Dave’s family had carved these roads from the hillsides by themselves with a digger and David was obviously very familiar with every narrow twist and turn on the mountain roads. The rain had made the gravel roads slippery and my poor little heart just couldn’t handle looking out over the edge of the road to the valley below and wondering how long it would take to roll to the bottom. Anxiety started kicking in and my Chinese mate Alex and I decided to hop out and walk the rest of the few hundred metres to the top.

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Up ahead the boys had spotted something. They had left the truck and were crouched over ready to have shot at a stag across a small ravine from their position. I could see the situation unfolding clearly. I ran to catch up as fast as my social smoker lungs could take me. As I approached the group my heart was pumping. How exciting! As I made my way across the wet grassy hillside to where they were crouching I slipped over and fell onto my ass. I looked around. No one noticed. Cool. After a few more steps I managed to fall again. This time I landed flat on my back. It kind of hurt. Luckily for me the boys were focused on lining up the stag and weren’t aware of the slapstick comedy show being performed behind them. I whispered (loudly) to the group “I’m gonna stick back here guys and take some photos’. The response was a collective hand gesture for me to shhhh! After a long drawn-out few seconds of silence.

Bang!

 

Off to the brewery!

 

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The origins of the MOA Red Stag Wheat Beer

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The origins of the MOA Red Stag Wheat Beer

By Parley Reynolds – MOA Asia Market Manager


Part 1.

Like many good stories, this one also starts out with a few beers…

On a cool March mid-spring evening in Shanghai, the MOA General Manager - Gareth Hughes and I were sitting outside the Hop Project on Dagu Rd enjoying a few brews.  There was a beer tradeshow in town at the time, so we were soaking in the bustling Shanghai atmosphere and the chance to catch up with a few old friends. Most importantly we were waiting for the owners of M99 to meet us for a drink.  M99 is a large craft beer retail chain based in the western Chinese city of Chengdu where I live. The owners Alex and Kite are good friends of mine and they soon appeared. A few more beers were downed shortly thereafter as they shared stories of their recent beer purchasing trip to California.

  M99 Store Chengdu

M99 Store Chengdu

Both Alex and Kite make a point of traveling to the countries where they source their beer. We soon got to talking about a planned trip to NZ. Other than drinking a lot of great kiwi beers, they were interested in activities we could suggest for them to do while they were there. They wanted to do something beyond the usual Queenstown bungy, Hobbiton, whale watching etc. Being a keen hunter, Gareth suggested they come visit the MOA brewery and he could take them for a deer hunt. After showing the boys some pictures of his recent hunting successes, they were dead set keen on the idea.

  The think tank. Shanghai 2017

The think tank. Shanghai 2017

The ideas kept flowing as fast as the beers were being poured. Rating himself as a bit of a brewer, Kite floated the idea of doing a M99 collaboration brew with MOA using some special NZ ingredient that would be attractive to their customer base. Sure, but what? Kiwifruit, cherries, honey? Circling back around to the hunting trip, Kite suggested doing a deer velvet beer. “Good for man” he said… I thought he was joking, but as I laughed and sipped my beer he was still looking at me with a serious expression. “Good for man” he repeated. I looked at Gareth and he shrugged his shoulders. I guess we had settled on a collaboration brew idea.

As it was going into winter in NZ we decided to hold off on the trip until summer, a much more pleasant time to go hunting and travel in NZ. Of course, it was also the best time to catch the deer while in velvet too.

  Deer in Velvet

Deer in Velvet

Velvet is the soft furry stuff on the outside of the deer antlers before they turn hard. Male deer grow a new set of antlers every year to both  how their dominance and attract females. They can grow up to 2cm a day! Wowee! Once they’re done dealing with the busy mating season, the antlers dry up and drop off as they wait around for the fun and games to start the following year. Deer Velvet is valued in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a way to balance yang deficiencies (too much yin and not enough yang bruh!). Don’t ask me what that even means… Spread over 2000 farms across the country, there are around 1 million deer farmed in New Zealand for venison and velvet. According to Deer Industry New Zealand market manager Rhys Griffiths, New Zealand exports of velvet to China doubled over the past year from $20 million to nearly NZD $40 million. I didn’t realize how popular this stuff is!  It’s got to be doing something good for some fella out there!

  MOA Hunting, Auckland Airport

MOA Hunting, Auckland Airport

Come January, with freshly issued visitor visas and their empty suitcases in hand ready to fill with NZ beer, I picked up Alex and Kite from Auckland airport. Even after a 13-hour overnight direct flight from Chengdu to Auckland they were surprisingly full of energy and keen to go out and try some local beers. After checking into the hotel, we found a nearby supermarket that was open until midnight. As it was 10:30pm we hurried down to the store and headed straight for the beer section. The boys were impressed with the selection that supermarkets in NZ and took their time to choose the best mixture of craft beers that the store had to offer.  A young fella stacking the shelves called over to us “Hey, you know you guys are gonna get cut off at 11pm aye”. No, we didn’t, but cheers for the heads-up mate! Being 10:57pm we ran the checkout counter and were stoked to have made it in time. “I’m gonna have to check your IDs” the elderly woman behind the counter insisted as I pulled my wallet out to pay. Being in our mid to late 30’s we were quite taken back by this request but also sort of flattered at the same time. As she fumbled to enter in our birthdates into the system the clock struck 11:00pm when she finally finished. “I’m sorry, I can’t process this purchase, it’s after 11:00pm and I’m locked out of the system”. Gutted! I guess they take the concept of countdown seriously…

Being in South Auckland on a Tuesday night our options were limited. Embarrassed by what had transpired and with two distraught and thirsty Chinese boys in tow, I had no other option but to take them to the local TAB for a beer. The beers on tap were obviously limited to a few industrial mainstays of the NZ beer world but at least they got a beer along with an authentic welcome to NZ. It wasn’t quite Skycity but they had a fun time sinking a few pints behind the pokie machines while sitting next to a local character with facial tattoos and a warriors jersey. I suggested they were probably best not to ask for a selfie.

First thing the next morning we were on the morning flight down to Marlborough. Gareth and David Nichols, the head brewer for MOA, picked us up from our Airbnb just before lunch. After a quick stop for supplies were on our way up to Stronvar Station just out of Marlborough on the northern most tip of the Southern Alps.  We met with our hunting guide Dave Evans who gave us a quick tour of his place and after an introduction to the history of the area and a breakdown of the health & safety protocols for the hunting newbies amongst the group (i.e. me and the Chinese boys), we were in the truck and on our way up into the valley.

  The hunting crew, Marlborough Jan 2018

The hunting crew, Marlborough Jan 2018

Part 2 coming soon…

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Fresh Snapper Burgers & Moa Five Hop

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Fresh Snapper Burgers & Moa Five Hop

There is not a lot we like more than a fresh snapper burger at the beach.  This is the perfect recipe Summer or Winter!


Ingredients:
Fresh snapper fillets (1 per burger)
Panko crumbs
Herbs of your choice (we used a pre-madeTuscan mix)
Salt & pepper
2 x eggs
olive oil

For the burger;
Burger buns
Avocado
Rocket or lettuce
Tomato/tomato sauce
Mayo
Hot sauce
Sliced beetroot & carrot

Method:
1. Catch and fillet your snapper (Discard remains in compost for ultimate garden nutrients!)
2. Make your rub using the Panko crumbs, herbs, salt & pepper and mix together with your hands
3. Beat eggs on a separate plate
4. Heat your pan to a med/high heat with a dollop of olive (or coconut oil for a sweeter taste)
5. Dip fillets into egg mixture then into crumb mixture and set aside until pan is hot
6. Cook your fillets until the crumb is golden brown, it should only take a couple of minutes in total!
7. Prepare your burgers however you like using fresh, seasonal produce and bun of your choice
8. Pair with a Moa Five Hops for the ultimate belly comforter in the cold weather!

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Moa Cider Drunk Cihicken Pie

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Moa Cider Drunk Cihicken Pie

Recipe

You will need:
1 Tbsp Olive oil
400g Skinless, boneless chicken breast or thigh
1 large leek roughly trimmed and sliced
60g Butter
2 heaped Tbsp plain flour plus extra for dusting
300mls Milk, plus extra for brushing
200mls Moa Cider
salt & pepper
170g Broccoli, cut into small pieces
handful chopped fresh parsley
Tin sweetcorn, drained
320g frozen pastry sheets

Method 

1.    Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees C Fan bake.
2.    Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, add olive oil and chicken & cook until meat is sealed all over. Add the leek and cook for 5-6 mins more, stirring now and again until it has softened and the chicken is starting to brown. Turn off heat & set aside.
3.    Now make the saucey stuff. Melt the butter in a separate saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring as it thickens to avoid any lumps, for 2 mins. Slowly add milk and cider, a little at a time, mixing as you go. Once fully mixed add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 3-4 mins until thick.
4.    Tip the sauce, broccoli, parsley and sweetcorn into the chicken pan, stir well, then simmer gently for a further 5 mins. Season the sauce with a good grind of salt & pepper, the set aside to slightly cool
5.    Line a floured baking dish with your pastry (you can just put pastry on the lid but we went the whole hog and made it a fully sealed pie) and pour in your slightly cooled mixture. Cut off any excess or fold it over, or make funny patterns on top of the pie for added conversation pieces at the dinner table.
6.    Brush the pie with leftover milk, stab a few holes in the lid with a fork and bake for 25-30 mins until golden and puffy.

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Sharkman's Semi Famous Popcorn Cray

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Sharkman's Semi Famous Popcorn Cray

Ingredients;

Crayfish

2 x eggs Panko crumbs Chilli

Lemon

Herbs + spices of your choice Salt + pepper to taste

Canola or sunflower oil for frying

Method:

1. Pre- Boil your crayfish for one minute to make for an easier peeling process

2. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk until smooth

3. Make up your panko crumb mixture using your chilli (finely chopped), rind of the lemon, herbs and spices, salt + pepper

4. Cut and peel your cray and chop into small, bite-size pieces.

5. Dip the cray bits into the egg, then into your panko mixture making sure to cover every bit generously.

6. Boil a centremeter of oil in a pan and throw in your popcorn cray for about 5 minutes or until they are a nice golden colour on the outside.

7. Slice up some lemon to garnish

8. Crack open your Moa Cider, enjoy!

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Ceviche

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Ceviche

This recipe is super easy, it requires ZERO cooking and only a few fresh ingredients.  We managed to throw ours together in a caravan before wandering up to the neighbours for a BBQ.  

Instead of heading to the supermarket to collect your plastic wrapped fish (where trevally can be $35/kilo!) consider catching your own. Not only does it give you a sense of achievement but you learn the ecological surroundings of the fish, its behaviours and what environment it is best caught.  If we only take what we need – there is no waste! 

Ingredients:
Fresh, sustainably sourced fish (Trevally and Kingfish are best for raw dishes)
3/4 can Coconut cream
1/2 a Red onion
1 x Green capsicum
1 x Fresh Chilli (you can use chilli flakes but fresh is best)
1 x Lime / Lemon
A handful of Coriander & cracked pepper to taste.

Method:
Clean/fillet your fish and slice into thin strips
Squeezed lemon, cover at least 90% of your fish
Chop all your dry ingredients into small bits
Throw it all into a bowl and cover with the coconut cream, make sure all the ingredients are completely soaked in cream with a small amount of leftover liquid around the bottom.
Get your hands in there and toss the ingredients around until everything is mixed nicely.
Season with cracked pepper and coriander

Grab our Gerwurz IPA or Southern Alps IPA and you’ll be the star of your summer barbie!

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