From the NZ Craft Beer TV journal, 28/1/11:
Dave Kurth came out to greet us from West Coast Brewing on a brilliantly sunny Westport day. Whoever said the West Coast was wet and rainy definitely had it wrong! Well, today anyway :)
Dave had done his training as a brewer under the legendary Stuart Howe of Sharp’s Brewery in Cornwall, England before heading over to Burleigh Brewing in Australia. I won’t lie and say we didn’t have massive expectations about the brewery considering the styles of beer they had brewed in the past, namely NZ Draught, Lager and Dark styles, but after chatting to the quietly spoken Kurth for a while about his 2,500 litre brewery and setup, we began to think a little differently. With less than a year at the brewery, we were curious to see what Dave had done to improve the beers and sat down for a tasting.
We began with the Draught and Lager beers and were instantly impressed with the fantastic cleanness and crisp finish that they both had. They were well-crafted with no faults whatsoever and were definitely eyebrow raisers for Luke and I. Dave then told us about the Dark and that it made up close to half of their production. In fact, the West Coasters were seemingly supporting the brewery really well with loads of them showing up with empty flagons to be filled with their favourite West Coast drop.
If the first two beers had us nodding in agreement, the Dark raised the bar even further. Milk chocolate and berries filled the mouth, the hop perfume sat on the beer and tickled the nose and the finish was dry and superbly drinkable. We were wowed!
West Coast also does an Organic Green Fern Lager which again had us grinning over our tasting glasses. Beautiful floral hop character and a body reminiscent of the finest Czech Pilsner worked wonders, with malt sweetness and the finest hint of alcohol making this lager a beauty. The West Coast Wheat was up next, a fine example of a German style Hefeweisen, with a lovely caramel-banana nose and clean, refreshing finish.
It was the next beer however that completely blew our minds. Dave’s Pale Ale was a hop assault on the nose, a massive nroma and a brilliant combination of New Zealand hops made this beer up there as one of the better hop-lead pale ales in the country. It goes to show how important it is for people to go and visit the breweries of local brewers and get beer fresh from the source. This wasn’t yet available in bottles and testament to how good fresh, local beer can be.
If that wasn’t all, Dave then went into his conditioning room to pull us out a 6.5% Octoberfest style lager that had been brewed last October and was due for release in March. This was proof at what great cold lagering/cellaring can do to a beer. A luxurious, smooth malt character filled the mouth, the integration over the aging period meaning there was little apparent alcohol in a beer of this strength.
If there’s one brewery that I would recommend visiting when you’re in that neck of the woods, it’s West Coast. Dave Kurth is a definite young talent and one brewer to keep an eye on.