Winemaker turns hand to brewing beer

08 September 2004
By SOPHIE WILSON  Marlborough Express

Did you hear the one about a flightless bird in a Blenheim winery where beer comes in champagne bottles?

The punchline is the delicious "rare beer" Moa, made in a champagne style by young Blenheim winemaker Josh Scott.

The son of Allan Scott of Allan Scott Wines, the up and coming beer brewer said when he decided to make beer the only way he could think of doing it was the same way he would make sparkling wine. Put the brew in a bottle, turn it upside down so the sediment drops to the top of the bottle, then disgorge it by freezing the sediment off, topping it up and corking it. The result is a pilsner style beer with fantastic presentation, no preservatives, no sediment and no added bubbles.

"Good beers should be naturally carbonated like God intended," he said with a slightly irreverent tip of his wine glass, filled of course, with beer. At the moment Moa, "a very rare beer" is being made at Dobsons Brewery with a lot of help from Graham Mahy, a man with thousands of brews under his belt.

But the Scotts plan to put in a brewery at their new property near to Allan Scott Wines by summer and expand their production significantly. It all started five years ago in the Cork and Keg, he laughed, and now they can't meet demand and are getting inquiries from America. Mr Scott's first brewing experience was what his father calls LP, or lethal piss. He and his sister would take their high alcohol homemade wine to parties, leaving everyone drunk by 8pm. His wine and beer brewing partner Jeremy McKenzie experimented with beer at high school, selling his homebrew to fellow borders at school.

As for Scott senior, he is hushed about his homebrew experiences, although there are murmurings of a chook house wine episode. Moa is a far cry from those homebrew days, and is a sophisticated drop in a sophisticated bottle that allows discerning beer drinkers a good dollop of posh.

Josh Scott said that while restaurants normally don't allow BYO beer, he strolled into one in Dunedin with a bottle of Moa, and was able to happily drink his beer. In fact, one of the reasons a winemaker would get into beer, is that some of the foods people love to eat simply don't match well with wine, while beer might be the perfect partnership, he said.

But the main reason was just to get into something new. "It is just something different. It is always something I wanted to do. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur."