Food & Wine
There are parallels between Josh Scott's craft beers and the award-winning wines he grew up with on a Marlborough winery.
The son of Allan Scott, renowned Marlborough winemaker, Scott is using his winemaking heritage to create a range of craft beers that use similar styles and techniques and even have similar names as his father's wines.
Scott's Moa beers are barrel-aged, bottle-fermented and conditioned like champagne.
Last week, he released a new limited-edition style, Moa Quad, which is high in alcohol like wine, at 10 per cent, and modelled on Belgian beer styles.
It's a lovely story too, when former wine barrels are given a new life ageing Moa's Imperial Stout range – one of the 10 styles that Moa sells here and offshore.
Rather than encouraging punters to drink his beverages, some Moa beers are best downed after a decade of being cellared.
Not so good for profits, though. At a Wellington beer bar to launch three limited-edition beer styles, 31-year-old Scott shakes his head.
"Cellaring beer is alien to most people, but we're trying to bring it up from being a layman's drink to being sophisticated.
"It's an exciting time for craft beers. Thirty years ago, wine was chateau cardboard and look at how that industry has developed," he says.
Moa general manager Gareth Hughes used to be the sales manager for 42 Below Vodka, but has now turned his attention to beer.
"We say, 'Why sit there and drink a dozen beers at 4 per cent alcohol each and feel bloated? You can drink half a dozen and enjoy the taste too without the side effects.' Mainstream beer is drunk so quickly and it's not exciting to the palate."
One of Moa's beers, St Josephs, which contains champagne yeast, has a soaring 9.5 per cent alcohol content. "High alcohol content lifts the volatiles out of the beer," says Scott.
"It just gives the beer lovely aromatics."
If you glimpsed a magnum of Moa on a supermarket shelf, you could easily mistake it for a similar bottle of champagne. Not only is it clever marketing to serve Moa in champagne and half-champagne bottles, but the beer is naturally fermenting inside the bottle.
When it is sent off to the United States, Moa's biggest export market, it is packed "green" and arrives fermented after four weeks in a shipping container.
Moa's flagship beer, called Moa Methode, ferments twice, the second time in the bottle with a champagne yeast, becoming drier as it ages.
While Moa was founded by Scott, 42 Below marketing guru Geoff Ross stepped in last year, investing capital and helping with brand development, also pushing Moa's wine connections.
Other styles in the Estate range are also reminiscent of wine - including Moa Noir (a dark lager) and Moa Blanc (a wheat beer).
With about 65 craft beers being made in New Zealand, it's a different scene now compared to when Scott returned from Europe in 2003, yearning for some of the boutique beers he had drunk in France while working there as a winemaker.
Although he trained in viticulture, he had already experimented with beer brewing many years before, brewing his first beer in a shed on his father's Marlborough vineyard in 1987, aged 13.
At high school, he and his mates tried to find out everything they could about the biology and chemistry of brewing, but he always treated it as a hobby till he founded Moa.
"One of the great things about our beers is that they're made from locally produced hops. They don't contain sugar and they're complex carbs, so they're slow-burning.
"That means no more beer bellies," he says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Which snack do you think is best?Related story: (See story)