On June 22 our bar ‘The brewery’ will have been open for exactly one year. On this day we released our seasonal Winter brew – Medicinal. Its been and extremely busy twelve months for us. From the first week we opened have we been surprised and delighted by the sheer volume of patronage.
We were in a huge hurry to open as soon as we possibly could after the February earthquake. This made for a less than finished project at that time, so we have been adding to the fit out of our restaurant and bar ever since. Our 600 litre wood fired brewery has also benefited from a few improvements.
The next twelve months isn’t looking any less busy with several new bars and a dedicated music venue – most of which will be located in the tannery development in Woolston. We are also planning on purchasing a new steam powered 2500 liter brewery and having it up and running by around December this year.
We call our Winter brew medicinal because it contains generous quantities of elderberries and honey. Elderberries grow all around the world and their berries are widely used for a variety of medicinal purposes – mostly to combat flu.
Around March, when the elder berries are looking ripe, we harvest them from an Joe’s uncles land in Little River – this is usually a family outing with kids and dogs and a picnic. Once the berries have been gathered in used malt sacks they are taken back to the brewery and frozen. On brew day the stems are removed by hand. Our head brewer, Nigel Mahoney adds them to the brew right at the end of the boil along with the honey, so as much as possible of their flavour and aroma is retained.
The berries give a rich earthy aroma and flavour as well as a nice dark reddish colour to the beer. The honeydew and beech honey adds a sweetness and helps us get a mighty 6.7% alcohol content. Cassels and sons medicinal is an enjoyable strong lager with fruity earthy notes and a smooth finish. Creating this brew is a lot of extra work for us but its a beer we are all proud of – its like capturing the goodness of Summer and preserving it for the dreary months of Winter.
Featured in Feast Magazine June 2012