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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

RAISING A GLASS TO THE NEW LOOK MOA RANGE.

Maurice “Mo” Alderslade of North Canterbury and Graeme James of Papamoa were recently contacted by the people at Moa Beer because they wanted to feature Mo’s Dad (also Maurice, now passed) and Graeme’s Great-Grandfather (one remarkable Samuel Turner, now passed) on their new look packaging.  

You can imagine their surprise.

Mo says he is over the moon that his Dad has found his way onto the side of Moa’s South Pacific IPA six-pack.  “He was a good man, my Dad – salt of the earth, honest, and not a bad word was spoken about him. He enjoyed a good beer too, so we couldn’t ask for anything more fitting.  I’m looking forward to sharing a beer with him again,” he says.

Graeme says he was chuffed that his Great-Grandad will feature on Moa’s Session Pale Ale six and 12-packs.  “I didn’t know very much about him, but Mum often talked about ‘Sammy’.  So when Moa rang me out of the blue to say they would like to use a picture of him on some of their new packaging, and told me a little bit more about him, I was blown away,” Graeme says. 

Sammy was almost one of New Zealand’s forgotten heroes.  He completed the first traverse of Mt Cook in 1906, made the first ascent of Mt Cook alone in 1919, and claimed the world record for skipping in 1911.  “It was wonderful to find out that sort of thing about our family, and to now have it recognized in this way is pretty special,” Graeme says.

Jeremy Meech, Moa's Head of Marketing, says the team spent months going through the National Archives looking for images of people engaged in a range of recognizable and uniquely Kiwi pursuits from an era that references their traditional brewing technique.  “We wanted to raise a glass to those inspirational, hard-working, adventurous New Zealanders whose pioneering deeds helped shape our country and our country’s identity.

“Finding these incredible images was just the beginning.  We then had to track down family members to seek their permission, which is another story altogether,” says Meech.

The new look packaging is one of a number changes the Marlborough-based brewery has made to its range. 

The previously limited release Moa Session Pale Ale has been introduced into its full-time range alongside Moa Original Lager in six-pack open basket and 12-pack formats, the popular Moa Southern Alps White IPA (also previously a limited release) is also being introduced into the full time range; the Estate range will now be available in six-pack open baskets (previously enclosed four-packs); and the brewery’s flagship Reserve Range will be now be available in 500ml bottles with crown cap (previously 375ml cork and cage). 

Josh Scott, Founder of Moa, says the changes were driven by trade and consumer feedback, and emerging trends in both local and overseas craft beer markets.  “We need to continue to adapt in order to meet the demands of a more dynamic and rapidly-evolving beer market.  A lot of the changes were designed to make our products more approachable and to help consumers more easily navigate our diverse range. 

“In some cases we’re changing our product names to better reflect the style of beer, and we’re hoping that adding a couple of extra bottles to our Estate range packs may help relieve some of the tension as BBQ weather settles in as there’s more to share with your mates and less of a need to fiercely protect your precious beer”, Scott says cheekily. 

“We’re really excited about bringing Moa Session Pale Ale into the full time range.  Sales of the limited release 12-pack have been fantastic, and the new look packaging should hopefully make it an even more attractive product,” Scott says.

The process of developing the new look packaging has also inspired Moa to seek out some more great Kiwi stories.  

“When we tracked down the families of the subjects in the pictures, what we discovered were some amazing, forgotten stories out there.  It got us thinking about how many other stories like Sammy’s have been - or are at risk of being - forgotten, so we’re launching a campaign to raise a glass to these and other inspiring Kiwis whose stories are worth sharing,” Scott says.

In late-November Moa will launch a nationwide search for some more great Kiwi stories and images out of the family archives. 

Keep an eye out on www.moabeer.com or www.facebook.com/MOABEER for announcements and more details.

SHANE WARNE AND MOA BREWING COMPANY CRAFT ‘99 NOT OUT’ PARTNERSHIP

Legendary Australian cricketer, Shane Warne, has embarked on an exclusive collaboration in the development of a new Pale Ale with the Moa Brewing Company (“Moa”).

This new partnership marks Warne’s first foray into the craft beer market, and is the result of a dedicated and intensive hands on period of exploration and development with Moa.


Sporting a bold and striking label, the name – 99 Not Out SKW Pale Ale (“99 Not Out”) – is a play on the infamous innings of Warne when Australia played New Zealand back in Perth in 2001.

 
 

Caught out on 99 by Mark Richardson at deep mid-wicket while going for a slog sweep off the bowling of Daniel Vettori, the result robbed Warne of achieving his maiden Test century. Unfortunately for Warne, the umpire had not picked up Vettori’s ‘no ball’ for over stepping in an era before the advent of high performance cameras and the umpire decision review system. Unaware of the injustice at the time of the dismissal, Warne still carries the scars of coming so close only to be denied in the cruellest of circumstances in the form of an unwanted record – most Test runs without a Test century.

“The story makes the Warne legend even stronger, and when the collaborative opportunity was first discussed 99 Not Out was a naming opportunity too good to refuse, especially given the great on-field rivalry between Australia and New Zealand”, said Josh Scott, the Founder of Moa.

“99 Not Out is a sessionable ‘new world’ style Pale Ale of 5% alcohol. Hopped with New Zealand Kohatu and Cascade hops, it displays spicy / earthy hop notes, a strong malt backbone, and a nicely balanced bitterness.”

“We’re really proud of the end product. Fundamentally, it’s a great craft beer, bottle fermented and conditioned in the Moa style, and to Shane’s credit he wasn’t shy about his opinion on the style and what he wanted.  He worked closely with our Master Brewer David Nicholls to create a quality beer that was crisp, dry and elegantly savoury. The objective was to create the perfect beer for summer and we believe we’ve created something special”, added Scott.

“To create your own beer and to be able to make it up exactly how you like it is pretty exciting. It’s really important that you have something that you believe in. I believe in this. This is fantastic, and I’m hoping everyone else will like it too”, said Warne.

99 Not Out will be available in a classic 330ml bottle (boxed sets of four available) around Australia in leading off- premise (retail) outlets Dan Murphy’s from mid/late December, followed by BWS in January 2014. In addition, selected ALH Group on-premise venues (bars, clubs and pubs) such as Archer Hotelin North Adelaide, Stones Corner Hotel in Queensland and Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel in Sydney will start pouring 99 Not Out from 4 December 2013.

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

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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.

(ANOTHER) MEDAL HAUL MILESTONE

For the second year running Moa Beer has chalked up the biggest medal haul of any brewery at the Asia Beer Awards.

Hot on the heels of a stellar effort at the Australian Beer Awards, Moa picked up seven medals – one gold, two silver and four bronze – to beat out over one hundred other breweries from around the world.

In a nod to the growing momentum of Kiwi craft beer, Moa general manager Gareth Hughes was invited to judge 18 styles of beer. Tough job…

“It’s always a tough competition with incredibly talented brewers and industry folk from all over Asia Pacific and the rest of the World. It feels great to have come away with another big win but personally I’m really honoured to be counted amongst some genuine good bastards,” says Hughes.

The Moa beer medal haul includes:

Gold

  • Moa Imperial Pilsner (Special Reserve) – World, Strong Ale/Lager

Silver

Bronze medal

“We’re especially proud of the two bronzes for the Blanc and Pale Ale as we were up against some tough competition from US craft juggernauts Rouges and Lagunitas. The Blanc win also completed the medal count for our full set of beers – a clean sweep for the team.

“We’re also rapt to have some New Zealand company on the podium. Yeastie Boys was awarded the Champion Brew trophy for Pot Kettle BlackTuatara grabbed a couple of bronze medals and Green Man secured a gold,” Hughes says.