No I am not forecasting the next big thing in craft beer (though if I inadvertently do forecast the next big thing don’t forget to mention me) rather I am devoting this post to a brewery from New Zealand MOA Brewing Co. Yup you heard me right, New Zealand.
Here in North America we tend to believe craft beer developed in places like Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom and then migrated over to North America where we embraced the concept like fiends but it turns out other earth dwellers love the craft beer idea as much as we do. In fact, I recently wrote a post on Italian beers and was blown away to learn how dedicated their craft beer culture is.
So on my last trip to Vegas I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple of beers from New Zealand on tap at The Cave in the Wynn, MOA Breakfast Ale and MOA Imperial Stout. In enjoyed them both and the next time I saw the bottles for sale I decided to revisit the beer and see if it still lived up to the memories.
First a bit about the brewery…
MOA Brewing Co. was opened by long-time home brewer Josh Scott in 2003 and MOA refers to a large prehistoric flightless bird. The company is based in Marlborough New Zealand and according to their website the beer is brewed “by lots of people and not many machines, as opposed to lots of machines and not many people”. We are lucky enough to get a few of their beers here because MOA are currently one of the largest New Zealand beer exporters to the United States (and cross-border hopping Canucks).
Reading through their website had me laughing out loud at several points, I appreciate the playful spirit that seems to come from people who love what they do and do what they love. Cheeky marketing, self-deprecating humour and poking fun at the ‘other’ guys, if you want a fun read browse through their site.
Now a bit about their beer (or variants as they call them)…
There are ten beers in their line-up as well as an apple cider and a pear cider. They brew with local hops that apparently smell like dak. MOA beers are unfiltered, unpasteurized and not force carbonated. The water source is a local artesian spring that flows beneath the brewery. Being nestled in wine country inspired the brewers to include techniques like barrel aging and bottle fermentation and condition. As they mention on their site they like to mix things up so the workers don’t get bored and burn down the brewery.
MOA Breakfast Beer
Breakfast Beer is wheat based lager brewed with wheat malt, floral Nelson hops and cherries. It weighs in at 5.5% ABV.
Breakfast Beer pours a very pale gold with good clarity and just a little bright white head. It is super fruity on the nose with a ton of cherry coming through and just a little yeastiness. It is clean drinking and light bodied with good carbonation. The fruitiness on the nose diminishes after a bit letting some of the other character emerge most notably the floral element. Flavour wise you get the cherry, an ever-so-slight bitterness and an earthy taste. There is no real finish to speak of. Overall I would say MOA Breakfast is a light crisp beer that hit the spot in Vegas but lost a bit of its charm on a cold and rainy Vancouver evening.
MOA Imperial Stout
Imperial Stout is strong and rich stout aged in Pinot Noir barrels. This beer displays coffee and mocha character as well as sweet and savoury notes. It weighs in at an impressive 10.2% ABV.
The Imperial Stout pours a deep brown black with a nice amount of mocha coloured head. There is a dark fruit component to the nose and little bit of sourness. As it warms the coffee notes on the nose really come to the front. There is a lot of cold coffee flavour and a bit of oakiness. This stout is medium bodied holding its high ABV well and never becoming alcoholy tasting. I really like the flavours imparted when barrel aging a stout. The finish has a nice amount of bitterness. Overall I would say MOA Imperial Stout was an excellent choice for a cold and rainy Vancouver night while perhaps not ideal for a 42° Celsius day in Vegas.
Looking forward to trying more from this brewery in the future.