Written by Michael Donaldson for www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times
It’s brewed in a laundry, but this beer’s a winner, writes Michael Donaldson.
Niels Schipper thinks of himself as a craft brewer, even though his award-winning bitter was brewed in his laundry at home.
Schipper, a photographer who dreams of running his own brewery, has just won the inaugural Moa Beer Home Brew Challenge with his well-named Schipper’s Bitter. His reward is to see his laundry brew recreated at Moa’s brewery, and then bottled and kegged for sale.
Schipper said the key to his success was trying to create a craft brew, not a home brew.
“There’s a distinction between home brew and craft brew,” he told the Sunday Star-Times.
To avoid the dreaded “home-brew taste”, Schipper refuses to use home-brew kits and instead uses malted grains, which he mashes (steeping the grain in hot water) in an old chilly bin. The malty liquid (wort) he gets from that is then boiled in an old tea urn.
It sounds basic, but Schipper is meticulous in his brewing, taking around seven hours to put down a brew, which then has to ferment for a couple of weeks before being bottle-conditioned for another two or three weeks.
Moa beer baron Gareth Hughes said Schipper blew away the competition with his bitter.
“While Niels’ bitter took home the prize, all six of his entries were top-class brews with the right complexity and carbonation. It’s a real achievement, given the guy’s brewery is a laundry.”
Schipper said he was inspired to brew great beer because he was unhappy with the commercial beer on offer locally.
Remarkably he’s only been brewing since last year, after being inspired by a trip to Europe where he was won over by German and English beer. “I now know why the English drink their beer at room temperature – because’s it’s good enough to drink at that temperature.”
Back home, he cottoned on to the booming craft and micro-brewery scene and decided to create a quality brew.
Hughes hopes the Moa Beer Home Brew Challenge will be held annually.