For our second edition of the Mixed Six, we chat to Lee-Ann Scotti and Michael O’Brien of Craftwork, Oamaru’s masters of esoteric Belgian styles.  Six questions on their favourite beers:  three about their brews, three about other people’s.

Favourite beer in your core range?

Lee-Ann: My favourites are our Anniversaire Range of beers. These beers are brewed on Craftwork’s anniversary (March 24) and are a chance for us to explore and experiment. Usually we brew a barrel-aged mixed fermentation saison, and it varies widely year to year. We didn’t make one in 2020, as our anniversary fell on the day before lockdown, and we rapidly lost interest in that project!  Recently that saison has been brewed for one of our membership boxes.  Technically, Autobarn and more recently Siege of Liege are made this way also.

Michael: I can’t decide! It is all dependent on time and place. We only make what we like, so it’s a bit like not choosing one child over another. Right at the moment, after a hard work day it would be a Good Lord, our straight Belgian-style tripel with Chimay yeast. If I was thirstier, it would be a Grisette.

The beer you are most proud of?

Both: We both agree that it would be Un Deux Trois, our one-, two-, and three-year-old blend of spontaneously fermented wheat beer. We both love Lambic and Gueuze, so for us to achieve this difficult beer was quite a milestone. We started brewing this style back in 2014, and it was such a mission! It used to take four full brew days to fill a barrel, whereas now it only takes one brew day. Initially we only had a handful of barrels, and we had to wait at least three years to have beer of suitable age to blend with. As it turned out we waited four years to blend our first Un Deux Trois, and this year, due to a disappointing two-year-old barrel, we decided to wait until next year.

What new beer are you most excited about?

Lee-Ann:  Terroir Blend is a real passion project of mine, based on the Megablend from Belgium. It is the expression of the same year’s one-year-old spontaneously fermented Lambic style beer from multiple breweries. We are excited that there are quite a few other brewers in NZ now brewing spontaneously fermented beers. We have Terroir Blend 2019 ready for release, and 2020 is about to be blended.

Michael: It has been out a little while now, but I’m enjoying Siege of Liege.  It’s a mixed fermentation Saison  which is then aged and soured in puncheons with a home-made ‘Syrop de Liege’ (pear and apple conserve).

First beer you feel in love with?

Lee-Ann: Parrotdog’s Bitterbitch, circa 2012, was the beer that got me brewing – the hop aroma seduced me. A special mention for Chimay Rouge and Framboise, which was when I first realised that beer was special.

Michael: I go back to the first time I was in Belgium in 1987, looking at a menu that I couldn’t fathom, and the realisation that it was actually all beer! I was woefully ignorant back then, so I chose the beer with the most ridiculous name:  Pavel Kwak. For those of you who know it, the presentation is even more eccentric than the strong beer itself, which was originally made for wagon drivers to sup whilst directing their team of horses!

Global beer you’d like to have now?

Lee-Ann: For me it’s a Hommelbier from Watou, West Flanders:  a subtle, hoppy blond strong ale.  I first tried one of these in Poperinge, West Flanders. Hommel is Flemish for hops, and Poperinge is the centre for hops in Belgium, so you can basically get this beer on tap in every cafe in that region. Occasionally you can get 750ml bottles in New Zealand.

Michael: I’m craving a Girardin Black Label, preferably drunk on-site in a Brussels cafe, with pungent cheese (Brussel kaas), radish, and rye bread. This Gueuze has a bretty barnyard tang and lovely grapefruit nuances. It’s only sold in Brussels, and mostly only served in cafes and bars.

A NZ beer you are enjoying lately?

Lee-Ann:  I’m loving 8 Wired’s Duvel clone, Rendition of the Devil, and Urbanaut’s Imperial Saison.

Michael: My choice would be Garage Project’s Chance, Luck and Magic, their Gueuze-style blend of one, two, and three-year-old spontaneous ale.

 

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