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FROM BOOTLEG BREWER TO NEW ZEALAND'S FIRST CERTIFIED CICERONE

FROM BOOTLEG BREWER TO NEW ZEALAND'S FIRST CERTIFIED CICERONE

Josh Scott is not your typical winemaker. It is not often that a person qualified in viticulture absconds to the Napa Valley by way of France to study winemaking techniques and returns with intel that he uses to create premium beer.

 

It is also not every day that someone who has dedicated their life to alcohol completes six Coast to Coast multisport races, the most recent of which was clocked just last month (placing him 20th overall in the competition).

 

And it is even more unlikely to somehow manage to train for these multisport races and concurrently sample 1,000 beers from all around the world in a bid to become New Zealand’s first qualified Cicerone (a Sommelier of the beer world).

 

But that’s exactly what Josh Scott did and has done.

 

When Josh Scott laid down his first commercial brew on 13 June 2003, Moa Brewing Co. was born.  Back then you could count the number of craft breweries in New Zealand on one hand.  Now there are over 100 and growing by the week.

 

The son of renowned Marlborough winemaker Allan Scott, Josh’s interest in all things liquid can be traced back much further than his wine studies and subsequent travels to a bootleg wine/raro mix operation he was running out of boarding school. Back then he was the go-to for rocket-fuelled party starters that impressed his comrades based on potency rather than palette.  And it appears Josh is even more surprised than his Dad to fast forward to 2015 and find himself responsible for the 13-year strong Moa Brewing Co., with  its focus on producing super premium handcrafted beers that (following his qualifications in winemaking) have at their roots a winemaker’s approach to brewing.

 

Moa’s Estate and Reserve range of beers are 100 per cent bottle conditioned. This is a secondary fermentation in bottle in line with the way Champagne is made. This traditional technique naturally carbonates the beer (rather than adding CO2 like you do with a SodaStream maker), significantly enhances shelf life and longevity, creates dynamic and complex flavours that change over time (like a good wine), and gives the brews an elegant, champagne-like mouth feel.

 

Today Josh is at the forefront of the craft scene, and is the only qualified Certified Cicerone in New Zealand.

 

The Cicerone program was developed in 2010 as a way to recognise the complexities and extent of the beer market in much the same way as professional sommeliers and the ‘Master of Wine’ program has.

 

Growing up in a winemaking family, Josh was no stranger to the term ‘Master of Wine’, a three year study and gruelling course based out of London.  When his friends in brewing circles began talking of the same deal for beer, called a Cicerone, his ears pricked up.  With three levels – a Certified Beer Server, Certified Cicerone and a Master Cicerone – the mix of theory, tasting and education hones in on what makes a good beer good, then uses that knowledge to improve all facets of the beer-drinking experience.

 

Studying for a full year before having the nous to reach his certification, Josh has already been tested on everything from the proper way to pour a beer to the anatomy of a hop plant. About 3,500 people have passed the beer server exam (level 1), and only 200 (a 30 per cent pass rate) have achieved the Certified Cicerone status he sat in January, where he gained a 99 per cent score in the tasting section. 

 

“I tasted some 1,000 beers in the lead up to the exam, forking out hundreds of dollars per week importing exotic beers from all corners of the world and tasting, photographing and documenting my own personal notes in anticipation of the blind tasting. It was of course Murphy’s Law that the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale that tripped me up from scoring a perfect 100 in the tastings was what I call my epiphany beer, the one that propelled me to pursue brewing in the first place,” says Scott.

 

Perfect scores aside, Josh is excited to continue the program and become one of only a dozen beer wizards worldwide who have made the cut as a Master — a person who can legitimately claim to know almost all there is about various beer styles, proper serving procedures, beer pairings and the rest.

 

“Beer’s not just for guzzling.  The Master Cicerone will be my driver for 2015. My biggest strength is my palate and thankfully this has the largest weighting in the Masters.  Although the stakes are as high as the fail rate, on the plus side, it’s not every day that you’re encouraged to drink in class,” he finishes.

 

Josh will sit the final Cicerone Master test in November.


About Cicerone

The Cicerone Certification Program certifies and educates beer professionals in order to elevate the beer experience for consumers.

Founded by Ray Daniels in August 2007, the Cicerone Certification Program was initiated to identify those with significant knowledge and professional skills in beer sales and service. As the wine world has their designated expert term, “sommelier”, beer expertise can now be recognised by Cicerone certification.

The Cicerone program has three levels as follows:

 

1. Certified Beer Server

A 60-question multiple choice exam, administered online requiring competent knowledge of beer storage and service issues as well as modest knowledge of beer styles and culture.

 

2. Certified Cicerone®

A written exam with short answer and essay questions, a tasting session and a demonstration component. Those who reach this certification have a deep and well-rounded knowledge of beer and beer service as well as competence in assessing beer quality and identity by taste. They have excellent knowledge of modern beers and styles, beer history and historical styles. They also have good understanding of beer ingredients and familiarity with the variations of brewing processes plus knowledge of beer pairing principles and the ability to recommend reasonable beer pairings for common foods.

 

3. Master Cicerone

The certification for Master Cicerones includes a two-day examination including multiple written, oral and tasting components. The written component consists of essay questions to demonstrate the depth and breadth of their knowledge in each section of the Master Syllabus.  Oral examinations are conducted by industry experts and often involve hands-on demonstrations of knowledge. Taste assessments will include sampling a broad range of off-flavours, blind assessment of beer styles and advanced assessment of beer acceptance.

Those who attain this final Cicerone certification possess widespread knowledge of beer and highly refined tasting ability. Master Cicerones® demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of all issues related to brewing, beer and beer service. A Master Cicerone must have theoretical and hands-on knowledge of draft systems and a mastery of beer styles by engaging in advanced tasting experience and also food-pairing practice. They are able to describe beer flavours using specific terms that accurately describe its full range of flavour.

www.cicerone.org

HOW TO BREW A COUNTRY

When we were searching the National Library of New Zealand’s archives for images of people engaged in recognizable and uniquely Kiwi pursuits from an era that also referenced our traditional brewing technique to feature on our new-look 6 and 12-packs we not only found some cool pictures, we also uncovered some cool stories that in some cases were at risk of being forgotten.

For example, the great-grandson of Sammy Turner who made the first ascent of Mt Cook alone in 1919, and claimed the world record for skipping in 1911, was unaware of his great-grandad’s achievements. He now knows his family’s remarkable connection with one of our country’s most iconic mountains because we tracked him down and asked him for his family’s permission to feature Sammy on our new Session Pale Ale 6 and 12-packs. True story.

The whole process got us thinking about how many other stories have been, or are at risk of being, forgotten over time. The stories we uncovered also reminded us that New Zealand is the way it is, and New Zealanders are the way we are, because of those adventurous, innovative, hard-working and determined pioneers who helped shape our country and our unique identity and approach to life.

Given our country’s relatively young history but rapid development, it is easy to forget about the many achievements both big and small that have been accomplished in the short space of time since New Zealand was first inhabited.

So we’re hoping that if we share a few stories of our own and provide a platform for other Kiwis to share their own stories we might just be able to uncover a few more gems and insights into what it means to live in New Zealand and be a New Zealander.

There’s no particular reason for doing this, it’s not a competition or anything. Who knows where it will all end up, but if nothing else it’s a good reminder to share a beer with your family and learn a little bit more about family history.

To read these stories and to share your own visit www.howtobrewacountry.co.nz

#howtobrewacountry

DOES ANYONE KNOW ANYONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO GET HOLD OF WHOEVER OWNS TUI BREWERIES?

Last week Tui Breweries put up a bunch of ‘Yeah Right’ billboards around the place saying “My shout, I’ve got Moa shares”. It’s probably fair enough as we tell our shareholders we’d nearly quadruple in size over 2 years and now we’re only expecting to almost triple. But it seemed odd that Tui would put up billboards knocking another beer, using accounting as their weapon.

Surely beer fights between beer companies should be settled over a beer, using beer.

So we thought Tui might want to challenge us to a ‘beer-off’. We’d get all our Moa beers, they’d get all their Tui beers, and someone impartial could decide which ones tasted the best.

We thought we could get Gordon Ramsay to do it, but he’s a Moa beer fan already so that probably wasn’t very fair. Then we thought about getting Ian Botham and Shane Warne, and they said they would be up for it, but they’re also Moa beer fans as well, so again not really that impartial.


In the end we decided to sort out who the judges would be later on, and just ask whoever owns Tui when would be a good time to do it.

The weird thing is, no one knows exactly who that is.

We phoned the Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka and they told us we had to talk to DB Breweries up in Auckland, where most of the Tui is made. So we did that, but whoever answered the phone put us through to their Monteiths department by accident.

Then we tried to talk to the CEO of DB Breweries, that new guy from Britain that supports the English Rugby team, and kept getting the run-around. Not that it mattered anyway as we then found out that DB doesn’t even own DB! It turns out it’s actually owned by a company up in Singapore run by some guy called Samson Wong.

So we phoned Mr Wong at Asia Pacific Breweries in Singapore, only to find out that Asia Pacific Breweries doesn’t belong to Asia Pacific Breweries either, but to Heineken in Holland. So finally we rang Amsterdam to try and talk to the owner of Tui Breweries, and the receptionist said she’d never heard of it and we probably had the wrong number.

I’m not making this up.

All we wanted to do was have a beer-off, but it was getting pretty hard to figure out who we were actually having a beer-off with. It felt like Tui was part of some global beer ponzi scheme.

So if anyone out there knows how to get in touch with whoever actually owns Tui, let me know by sending an email to josh@moabeer.co.nz

It would be good to get the beer-off underway before someone buys Heineken and we have to start all over again.

Right-oh,

Josh Scott

MOA CELEBRATES A DECADE OF CRAFT BREWING WITH NEW LIMITED EDITION MOA DECADE SAISON

Pead-PR-Moa-15.05.13-120_Landscape-610x458.jpg

Production on a special one-off brew to celebrate ten years in the game is about to get underway at Moa Brewing Company’s Marlborough home.

In true craft beer style, only 100, three-litre jeraboams of the Moa Decade Saison will be released and Moa are rewarding those who bought a stake in the country’s only locally listed brewery by offering them first crack at it.

“Exceptionally rare is one of our mottos,” says Moa Brewing Company founder Josh Scott, “but the new Moa Decade Saison is more than rare. Getting your hands on one will be only slightly easier than finding a real life Moa.”

It will be brewed, bottled and then cellared in Marlborough to allow the bottle conditioning process to work its magic.

Saison is a style of beer from the farmhouses of French-speaking Belgium. It was originally brewed for field workers during autumn and winter as a light, refreshing ale. We reckon our own version will be a bloody good drop and we should be looking to pop the top off our first one sometime in August,” Scott says.

Sales will be strictly limited to one per person and offered to the public subject to availability.

“We will be giving our shareholders the first option on all limited edition beers and besides providing a great investment to them, it’s our way of saying thanks,” says Scott.

A beer to celebrate ten years in business had better be worth drinking and Scott says plenty of love has been put into it.

“We’ve come a long way since the days of me brewing my own beer out the back of the old man’s vineyard.”

Moa Decade Saison promises to be fruity, spicy and food-friendly, so be sure to have friends over to enjoy the experience over dinner, or sit at home and drink it selfishly all by yourself.

MORE BEER FOR OLYMPIANS

Moa Beer backs bid for new Kiwi Olympic glory.

The beer that toasted every Kiwi medal at the London Olympics has signed up again as the official beer of the New Zealand Olympic team for Rio 2016.

Moa Beer won’t wait four years before unleashing another support party though. The brand has also signed on to support the NZ teams at the Glasgow XX Commonwealth Games and Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

As the exclusive beer behind the 2012 NZ Olympic team, Moa supplied the thirsty masses at the purpose-built watering hole ‘Kiwi House‘ in London, generating valuable brand awareness and social media traction at home and abroad.

Moa chief executive Geoff Ross says Kiwi House also lit a fire under the brewery’s UK expansion.

“We put Moa on show for prospective business partners and, as a result, our first order is about to be shipped to UK distributor James Clay. We also found out which Moa varieties impressed the locals and of course celebrated Kiwi success with fans and athletes alike.”

With a UK distribution partner comes more opportunity for Moa to leverage the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, says Ross.

“Re-signing with the NZOC this early gives us four years to plan a bigger and better Moa beer presence wherever we go”.

Moa is not wasting any time getting set in the city of Samba either.  Brazilian distributor Oceania Group has been enlisted by the recently floated Blenheim brewery to supply the country.

“Brazil is a country that loves beer perhaps even more than New Zealand and we also have a few more mouths to drink it. The beer culture here is advanced so we think a premium product like Moa with such a diverse range of styles will prove very popular,” says Oceania Group Director Marconi Albuquerque Filho.

The expansion comes ahead of anticipated growth in the Latin American beer market and moves by the Brazilian government encouraging beer imports ahead of the FIFA World Cup.

“Through Oceania Group we’re already driving business in Rio with the first shipment scheduled for January 2013,” says Ross.

“We learned some key lessons from London on how best to leverage this great sponsorship opportunity and translate the celebration into tangible results and growth. Oceania Group was impressed with our execution in London and it’s great to have such a strong distributor on board heading in to Rio.

“We took more than 21,000 bottles to Kiwi House for the Games and there were queues stretching around the block almost every day to get in to enjoy a drop and party with everyone inside.”

“When the New Zealand team and support crew arrives in Rio for the next Olympics we’ll be there ready and waiting,” says Ross.

FOUR MORE YEARS – MOA RUGBY BEER

Unlike most of New Zealand who went straight to the drinks cabinet to toast New Zealand’s rugby win, your dedicated Moa team headed down to the shop floor to brew up a celebratory batch they’re calling the ‘Four More Years’ beer.

The Four More Years beer is brewed like a Moa Imperial Stout, infused with Guatemala coffee beans, then added to French barriques for extended maturation.

Moa founder Josh Scott says the beer was not only inspired by the All Blacks’ triumph over the French but also looks ahead to future ABs’ wins at the 2015 World Cup.

“Because the next World Cup is in the UK, we thought a stout was fitting. Plus, it’s big and black like our team – and at 10.11% ABV, it packs a punch equivalent to Jerome Kaino in a crash tackle.

“Given we had France over a barrel, the French barriques are appropriate, and the coffee is a nod to the fact Kiwis will all be getting up early or staying up late to watch the next Cup in 2015.”

Josh says Moa selected the coffee beans after a cupping (tasting) session with boutique Marlborough roasting company CPR Coffee.

“As with beer, there’s a huge difference between good and bad coffee beans. Our cupping session not only helped turn us into proper coffee snobs but, more importantly, it ensured we got the finest quality beans that best fitted our beer.

“The Guatemala beans were chosen because of their low bitterness levels, high aromatics, chocolate aromas and low oil content.”

The Four More Years beer will be lovingly stored in the Moa cellar until 2015, when it will be bottled in 500 750ml bottles, as well as 1.5 litre Magnums, 3 litre Jeroboams and – to ensure there’s plenty to go around at the victory party – 6 litre Methusalahs.

Moa plans to design and unveil the label in 2015, with each bottle numbered and signed by Josh Scott and Moa master brewer David Nicholls.

Fans will have to wait until at least 2013 to place their order… although bribes will be accepted in advance for a place on the waiting list.

MOA ‘FOUR MORE YEARS’ NOTES

Style: French oak aged and Guatemala coffee infused imperial stout.

Tasting notes:

Big robust beer. Like a gutsy red wine. Rich dark roasted malt and leather characters, all infused with a delicate coffee aroma that exudes a typical freshly roasted coffee and handmade chocolate flavour.

10.11% Alc.