Wanaka Beerworks: Journal Entry
Californian native Dave Gillies met us at Wanaka Beerworks, which is attached to the Aviation Museum, the site of the amazing Warbirds over Wanaka airshow. Dave founded his brewery in the late 90s and came to quick fame with his flagship Pilsener, Brewski which took out Supreme Champion Beer of New Zealand back in 2000. Brewski, his Vienna Lager, Cardrona Gold and his Schwarzbier/Dunkel/Stout Tall Black are all brewed with the characteristic New Zealand Saaz hop and are great exponents of this variety. Brewski in particular had big notes of chamomile and a big, grassy hoppy cleanness.
His 600 litre DME-made brewery’s copper is still gleaming and working well for him and the brewery itself has certainly been keeping both locals and tourists alike happy and sated. Dave has done his time though and just sold the brewery to a Kiwi/Belgian couple who are to take over in 6 months. It will be interesting to see which direction the brewery heads and we are all really curious to see what calibre of Belgian-style beers come out of the heart of Otago in the future. Thanks Dave for your fantastic contribution to NZ Brewing!
With spectacular views of Lake Wanaka and Hawea, we climbed over the ranges and through the prehistoric Haast region. Ferns and Podocarp forest aplenty, it was easy to imagine Moa and giant dragonflies lurking in the dense rainforest just out of sight. A surreal and beautiful place.
The rugged mountain landscape continued as we reached our destination, Franz Josef, the glacial ice stretching over the pate of the mountains and glowing white-blue in the fading sunlight. Our campsite, The Rainforest Retreat was exactly as the name suggested – a series of campsites, cabins, treehouses and van sites filled with tourists young and old enjoying the ambience of the bush that encompassed the area. It was the next morning however that was magic. We got up just after 5am so as to make the next leg of our trip. The dawn chorus was astounding. Tui, Bellbirds (Korimako) and other winged forest denizens incessantly chatting and calling their territory and hollering for mates. What a way to start a new day.