Discovering a taste of Taupō’s craft brews
Getting crafty: The Central Plateau, with its unique blend of altitude, cooler climate, rich agriculture and free- draining volcanic soil makes for an exciting locale to brew a craft beer.
Taupō is home to several craft brewers, each passionately embracing the unique terroir and crafting award-winning lagers, ales, fruit beers and even meads. We caught up with two of Taupo’s brewers to find out more about the delicious beers they make, and what sets the area apart as a hub for craft beer enthusiasts.
Brewing with a kiwi touch
New Zealand’s craft beer scene is now world-renowned. Popular craft beers from all over New Zealand can be found on shelves and in fridges from Singapore to the United Kingdom, and visitors to our shores are increasingly visiting specifically for beer-related tourism as well as spending more on beer while they’re here.
Kiwi brewers boast an innovative, dynamic attitude to craft beer brewing that sets them apart on the world stage, incorporating an exciting mix of local flavours and quality raw ingredients.
One of the most characteristic traits of New Zealand craft beer in past years has been its emphasis on the experimental. Strong flavours, higher strengths, and flavourful Kiwi hops often defined what consumers expected from their craft beers. However, while innovations and experiments are always brewing, the current times are seeing a shift back to basics. Elissa Cooper, one half of the couple behind Lakeman Brewing Co., says they’re witnessing a swing back to more traditional beers in these tougher economic times.
“The consumer knows what they like and trust and is favouring core beers with tried-and-true styles rather than something too experimental,” Cooper says.
Lakeman’s signature pilsner, a testament to this sentiment, recently bagged the Supreme Champion Beer title at the New World Beer Awards.
It’s one of Lakeman’s core beers, and it’s brewed using an ale yeast, giving it a distinct flavour profile. Cooper and husband James have been brewing for ten years, and now has a team of seven locals looking after their process from start to finish.
Daring to be different
Not every brewery is dancing to the same tune. Crafty Trout Brewing Co., another local gem, favours crafting their own unique flavours without following the influence of trends. While known for their porter and two wheat beers – one light and one dark – they also offer seasonal releases. Recent specials include an alcoholic ginger beer and an American pale ale. And for those curious about their next innovation, a uniquely smoky lager is in the works.
But Crafty Trout isn’t just about beers. Their ingenuity has led them into crafting hop bath bombs, hop bath salts, and even hop tea bags due to an excess of hops. If that doesn’t set them apart, they also boast an all-female team, a rarity in the heavily male-dominated brewing scene of New Zealand.
Try their brews on tap in their quirky fishing lodge style eatery, complete with a welcoming Bavarian-style atmosphere. Grab a pizza or a loaded beef schnitzel – great for soaking up a brew or two.
Whether you lean towards the classic or the experimental, there’s a pint waiting for you in Taupō, promising a flavourful journey like no other.