Raise a glass to Queenstown’s Altitude Brewing Studios.
The fledging craft brewery, less than two years old, has beaten the big boys at the Brewers’ Guild of New Zealand Beer Awards.
Brewer and director Eliott Menzies won silvers for his India pale ale (IPA) Mischievous Kea and “sessionable” pale ale Posturing Professional. But you’ll struggle to get them on tap in Queenstown - brewery and bar contracts make it the hardest place to sell independent beer in the country, Menzies says.
“We’re really stoked with the silvers,” he says.
“It’s a proud moment to be ranked above the level of beers that have been mentors for me - some of my favourite beers over the years.”
Menzies concocts the recipes and test bottles in Queenstown but the volume is produced in Christchurch.
The business sells mid-30,000 litres per annum, shipping to as far away as Auckland.
It has a range of five beers with two more out in November.
“We know we’ve got a great award-winning product but it’s just about trying to crack the local market.
“It’s a really tough sell here in Queenstown – all the bars are in with breweries.
“Contractually they’re allowed to stock a couple of bottles but it’s the taps that’s really tricky.
“We’ve had big breweries come down and say good luck because it’s the hardest place in the country to sell beer.”
Queenstown bar veteran Barry Ellis confirms a lot of Queenstown bars have contracts with major breweries.
It’s possible to get independent bottled beers into brewery-contracted pubs, he says, adding: “If there’s a demand for it.”
The breweries beers are available in bottles in 10 local bars, and on tap at Atlas Bar and intermittently at Arrowtown’s Fork & Tap.
Mischievous Kea is a high-bred English/American IPA “that multi-hoppy IPA style, not too strong in alcohol, still quite hop forward but with a balance behind”, Menzies says.
Posturing Professional meanwhile is a session pale ale, “it’s five per cent, so anyone can enjoy a few pints of it”.