It was an early morning start as we were meeting up with our SLG friends for a day’s outing. Driving down SH1 the coastal route took us past Paekakariki and far away in the distance we could see the hills of Marlborough Sound in the South Island, about 90kms away. That doesn’t happen every day – it probably depends on the cloud cover and the light.
South Island in view
The closer we drove to Upper Hutt, the lower the temperature dropped, down to 5 degrees C. It was just as well we had warm coats with us – we had forgotten just how cold our old home town could get. Trish was in charge of organising our outing, and first port of call was to Kereru Brewery, a boutique brewery in the old Feltex building.
Kereru Brewing in Upper Hutt
Owner Chris has been brewing beer since 1992 in hometown Boston, USA. Looking for a different type of lifestyle Chris and his wife Natasha made the big decision to emigrate to New Zealand. Why NZ, we asked them. Because it’s an English speaking country, is safe and quiet, and just about as far away as they could get. In 2010 they turned their garage and rumpus into a commercial kitchen and built a tiny 50 litre commercial nano-brewery under their house in Silverstream. They named it Kereru Brewing Co. after all the kereru (wood pigeons) in their back yard. That was soon outgrown and in 2013 they moved to a large factory space in Upper Hutt on Maidstone Terrace and built an 1,800 litre (15 barrel) microbrewery. Chris gave us a running commentary about the different variety of beer they produce and Natasha poured the samples.
Robin, Calvin and Ashley sampling the brew
We were given a tour through the factory and the steps of beer making were explained, helped along by tastings of this beer and that. The equipment was bright and gleaming under the lights, and the whole operation looked scrupulously clean. Traditional beers made include two pale ales (one a bitter and the other an IPA), a stout and a strong Belgian-style Trippel. More unusual beers include a German-style sour beer made with karengo, a golden ale with pohutukawa honey, a brown ale with kumara, and a porter with toasted coconut. Hops and grains are sourced from the South Island.
Chris telling us all about brewing beer
After our tour most of our group made a purchase or two – Robin being a good keen Kiwi bloke knows all about beer and chose a couple of varieties which he particularly liked. I’m not really a beer (or wine) drinker although I don’t say no to a shandy on a hot day.
The rain had set in for our drive over the Rimutaka Hill for lunch. After the atrocious weather conditions of a week or so ago when the hill road was closed, work is still taking place with repairs. There were three working parties on the hill road, repairing the storm damage where the outside edge of the road had crumbled away. Our next stop after lunch was to Hillcrest Honey in Greytown. The owner Robert took us into his factory and explained how honey extraction is done. The company specialises in delicious Manuka honey – our favourite.
Robert telling us all about honey
We didn’t realise that the wax is collected at the end of the process. It is cleaned of debris, heated, made into bars and then reused to coat new frames going back into the hives.
Bars of beeswax
Robert then presented us all with a jar of manuka honey each. Although delicious to eat, this is “active” manuka honey and could be used to treat wounds with its advanced healing properties.
Our SLG friends and Robert
We started on the long drive home, back over the Rimutaka Hill, up and over Haywards Hill, and back along the coast road where we caught a glimpse of Kapiti Island in the twilight. We had a very interesting day, thanks Trish, not about “wine and roses” as the song goes, but all about “beer and honey”.
Kapiti Island off the coast