From the NZ Craft Beer TV journal entry, 19/2/11:
It was time for us to hit the road again and head to Gisborne to check out the world's most easterly beer producer, Sunshine Brewery.
The long, winding road was slow going in the camper, but we finally made it, passing numerous vineyards and orchards on the way. Amazing forest scenery, winding rivers, it was an amazing drive. We were met at Sunshine by brewery founder, Gerry Maude who told us of the brewery history. One of New Zealand's longest running craft breweries (established back in 1989), their flagship lager, Gisborne Gold, lead the way and had some great market share in centres such as Wellington, especially back in the 90s. The beer is a great example of a New Zealand lager, with lovely floral hop notes on the nose and a lovely, persistent bitterness, something that lacks in many of it's mainstream counterparts. This beer has an almost cult status among craft beer drinkers that were sick of the mainstream and after a taste, I can see why.
We had a quick taste of the slightly more bitter, dry Gisborne Green, their Pilsner, followed by the more malty Reserve, which had great hints of toffee and hop and finally the impressive Black Magic Stout. At 4.5%, this punched well above its weight in flavor and character. A brilliant example.
We chatted about the challenges that the larger breweries posed for craft brewers and the hope that local people continue to get behind their local producers. As we talked a constant stream of regulars came through the door. Filling flagons and riggers with beer, buying dozen boxes and bottles from the fridges, sharing jokes with Gerry and the other workers, who had just finished a bottling run of Gisborne Gold. It seems to me that this brewery is well named. It's a bit of sunshine for a lot of people who love the beer and really appreciate what the brewery is trying to do. Bring something great to this part of the world. This was the first time I've ever visited Gisborne. I'll definitely be back for a couple of flagons of Gisborne Gold…