From the Mussel Inn's website:
The Mussel Inn is located in the heart of Golden Bay, North West Nelson region of the South Island of New Zealand. A two hour drive from Nelson, over the Takaka hill, through the township of Takaka and on another 17 kms towards Collingwood you will find yourself in Onekaka. Keep your eyes peeled, for the Mussel Inn is very subtly sign posted but can often be recognised by the many cars parked on the roadside - especially on a busy night.
Built in 1992 by HYPERLINK "http://www.musselinn.co.nz/the-dixons.jpg" Jane and Andrew Dixon and their two sons, Henry and Toby, with a big whack of encouragement from HYPERLINK "http://www.musselinn.co.nz/in_memory_of.htm" John Mitchell , the Mussel Inn could be described as ‘Kiwi woolshed’ meets ‘Aussie farmhouse’ in style of construction. A single room with a veranda on three sides, chunky wooden furniture (tables good to dance on) and a large open fire create a space that is rustic and homely.
No need to get dressed up - in fact there is no dress code - although it would generally be more appropriate if some clothes were worn - the atmosphere is laid-back and family friendly.
The fare is simple and wholesome and as much as possible, prepared in our own kitchen. Famous for our fresh steamed mussels and thick mussel chowder, we also do steak, fish and vegetarian options and a range of snacky foods are always available.
We also produce all our own beers, ales, ciders soft drinks and occasional house wines in a small HYPERLINK "http://www.musselinn.co.nz/brewery.htm" brewery located adjacent to the Mussel Inn. Home made lemonade and ginger beer will please those looking for something non alcoholic and a small selection of Nelson area wines and a basic range of spirits for those who are.
About the Brewery
The brewery is located adjacent to the Mussel Inn in a small purpose built building built in the winter of 1995. The brew length is 12 hecto litres (1200 L) - a fairly standard size for most micro breweries.
The main ingredient for our beers – the water – comes from a small stream in the hills behind the Mussel Inn – bush filtered and low in dissolved minerals. The hops we use are locally grown organic varieties with a couple of special brews being made from our own hops which grow around the front of the Mussel Inn. For bittering we mainly use Pacific Gem followed by either NZ Hallatau or Riwaka (Saaz D) for aroma. Our organic pale malt which makes up the bulk of the grist is grown and malted in Canterbury by Gladfield Malts. Until such time as someone in NZ starts producing them, the small quantities of ‘coloured’ malts we use are imported from Australia and the UK.
All of our beers are produced in the traditional way, using a gravitational system in the brewing process. We use a straight infusion mash and a gas fired kettle. Except for our bottle conditioned ales which use various top fermenting ale yeasts, a bottom fermenting lager yeast is used in both our lagers and dark beers, fermented at 13°. All beers are unfiltered and are naturally carbonated in the conditioning tanks through secondary fermentation (no added CO²)
The Mussell Inn's range of beers:
Captain Cooker - Inspired by the first beer ever to be brewed in New Zealand, by Captain James Cook in 1773, the Mussel Inn version is a red brown all malt beer flavoured with the freshly picked tips of the Manuka tree and locally grown New Zealand organic hop varieties. The only one out of 240 New Zealand beers to rate 10 out of 10 in Keith Stewarts book HYPERLINK "http://www.musselinn.co.nz/images/beer-guide-.jpg" ' HYPERLINK "http://www.musselinn.co.nz/images/beer-guide-.jpg" The complete guide to New Zealand Beer'. Also featured in HYPERLINK "http://www.musselinn.co.nz/images/best-book.jpg" 'Best - a New Zealand compendium'. . A typical comment - this one from HYPERLINK "http://www.musselinn.co.nz/Cpt%20comments.htm" John Thompson and he should know.
A very distinctive beer with notes of ginger and rose oil which sometimes gives the perception of a slight sweetness although the beer is fermented dry. Long known for it's medicinal qualities by the native Maori population of New Zealand, manuka's high anti oxidant properties are also to be found in Captain Cooker manuka beer.
And the relevance of the pig?As was normal on early voyages of discovery to new lands, Captain Cook released several pigs on his arrival. The untouched forests of New Zealand proved to be most attractive to these pigs and it wasn't long before they had spread throughout the land. Great for the pigs - not so great for our forests. These unique pigs are now commonly known as "Captain Cookers" - and likewise, the Captain Cooker manuka beer is commonly referred to simply as "The Pig".
Pig hunting has long been a great New Zealand past time, taking good keen men (and women) and hardy hounds to the most inaccessible nooks and crannies of what remains of our wildest jungles. Now you too can hunt 'the pig'. With a little determination and a little perservarance you never know - you just might get lucky!
In 2004 we were approached by Dirk Standaert of Gent, Belgium, asking if we would be interested in exporting the Captain Cooker to Belgium for him to distribute. Shipping a product that is 95% water, to the other side of the world, in a heavy glass bottle that probably came from the other side of the world in the first place, did not sit comfortably with our environmental philosophies. Neither do we have the capacity or the equipment to bottle - and so the offer was declined and there the pig lay. About a year later, while I was busy revamping our brewery, it occured to me that there could possibly be another way. Belgium - the home to a vast range of fantastic beers and the brewers who create them - why don't we just send the vital ingredient over there (in a dried form) and let them do it themselves?
So contact was re established with Dirk and the pig was roused from it's slumber. de Proefbrouwerij in Lochristi - a brewer of many many fine beers - was contracted to produce the product and manuka was harvested, dried and sent. A trial brew was made (which required us to travel over there to sample - bugger!) and although not exactly like the original Mussel Inn version, was equally as good and so production was started. As has always been our intention, we wanted the brewery to interpret the recipe as best they see fit to produce a product that would best suit the market that it is serving. In this case we have an alcohol content of 5.7%, fermented with an ale yeast, packaged in the standard re usable 330ml Belgian bottle (as used by Duvel and others), sporting a rather swish looking black label designed by Dirks team. Great beer - great look. Check out HYPERLINK "http://www.captaincooker.com" www.captaincooker.com .
In December 2008, I bumped into Peter Cole and his partner Debra at the Mussel Inn and we got yarning. Turned out that Peter not only shares our concerns for this planet we live on but is also the part owner and founder of the Squatters bar and brewery in Salt Lake City, Utah. HYPERLINK "http://www.squatters.com" Squatters brewery . He is also passionate about all things beery and was keen to give the pig a whirl. So manuka was cut and dried and on the 8th of August 2009, the first American Captain Cooker was released at Squatters down town venue in Salt Lake City, in the good company of Jenny Talley, the brewer and other key staff. I have to admit, that alongside the samples that we had taken to compare it with, the local version excelled. And this is a good thing too - proving once again that beer is best consumed where it is made and really shouldn't be exported around the globe. Besides - pigs really shouldn't be flying (our samples were in riggers - not ideal at 30,000 feet).
November 2010 - release of the Pig Bombers - 650ml bottle version - 6.26% and tasting even better than the first brew.
December 2009 - another fortuitous collision - this time, Matt Clarke, head brewer at the HYPERLINK "http://www.hawksheadbrewery.co.uk" Hawkshead brewery located in Staveley in the Lake District of the UK. After a look around our operation and a few samples, Matt was inspired to 'bring the pig home' - and in July 2010, the first cask conditioned real ale Captain Cooker was dispenced at the annual Hawkshead beer festival - no fanfare, no advertising - but the punters soon caught wiff of it and it was not long before it was cut. Another fantastic interpetation - and hopefully to be repeated in the not too distant future.
And closer to home.... Invercargill, November 2009.
You couldn't find a brewery further away from the Mussel Inn on the South Island, to contract brew for us but there are reasons that make this a viable choice. First and foremost is Steve Nally - brewmaster of the Invercargill Brewery. Top chap! Next is they have the means to produce a bottle product and the will to do so. Then there is the fact that all of our malt is produced in Canturbury - closer to Invercargill than Onekaka and on the main trunk line - which has advantages that apply to moving bottles and kegs around also. More than half of the Invercargill production is being distributed from Christchurch via HYPERLINK "http://www.beernz.co.nz" BeerNZ so this also makes sence. And what is this version like? Damn good! 5%abv, a bit more highly carbonated than the Mussel version and consequently a bit more aromatic. (they are also brewing the Golden Goose and Dark Horse now). These are the versions you are most likely to find in your supermarket or at your more inspired restaraunts.
Golden Goose Lager - A hoppy golden lager. No shell, no feathers, just pure gold. 4%
Dark Horse Black Beer - Very dark and roasty – not too dry. A solid and dependable performer - pulls away strong at the finish. 4%
White Heron Wheat Beer
Bitter Ass - Extra bitter brown ale - 8.5% - So here she is - the baddest ass your like to encounter this summer. From an extremely high hopping Stallion and a kick ass funky Donkey - approach with caution! 500ml bottle conditioned nightmares to satisfy you double IPA geeks.
Strong Ox – Strong Dark Ale. A bottle conditioned ale, fulsome with a slightly sweetish finish. For strength and endurance.6%
Pale Whale Ale - A bottle conditioned pale ale. Big body – long tail! 6%
Monkey Puzzle - extra strong ale - Belgium style ale full of … everything! Proceed with caution.10%
Lean Lamb Gueuze - our loose interpretation of a trad Belgium gueuze - slightly tart 'n somewhat frisky! New version out now –
Lambagreeny - Feijoa gueuze - another one off wonder from the barrel of joy! Very limited supply
Heat Rash Chilli Beer - Golden Goose with a chilli added to the bottle. The older the hotter. Small runs available depending on supply of chilies. Usually available after the Easter chili harvest. Served with the chilli for those who can hack it. 4%
Weka – Tasty Dark Ale. A barrel aged strong darkish Belgian styled sour ale. One of a kind and extremely rare! 6%