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May 18, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]


Nestled among farmland in the hills of Reikorangi, 50km north of Wellington, lie two sheds. Within one stands four towering 4000-litre fermenters and an assortment of brewing equipment, ingredients and branded boxes. Within the smaller shed lies a bottling line, fridge and pallets of bottles. Welcome to Tuatara Brewery.

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Tuatara Brewery with a group of like-minded beer enthusiasts from the ‘Society Of Beer Advocates’ (SOBA). Upon arrival I was given a glass, and a free range over four taps from the Tuatara range. These were the Porter, Ardennes, Hefe and, the latest release, Helles.

Naturally, I took full advantage of the generosity of brewer Carl Vista and his crew and thoroughly investigated the beers.

Tuatara London Porter (5%) was being served on hand pump, which means no carbonation was added—all the fizz was created by our friend yeast. Also, it is only slightly chilled so was probably at 10°C when it reached my lips. The warmer temperature allowed the roast flavour of the malt to dominate and, being lightly carbonated, I tasted dark fruits far stronger than I have previously. Tuatara London Porter is available on hand pump at D4 and Malthouse.

The Belgian-styled Tuatara Ardennes (6.5%) was my main tipple of the afternoon. Perhaps this was not the wisest idea as it’s Tuatara’s strongest brew, but I’m always a sucker for a Belgian.

Belgian yeast characterises the fruity flavour, with clove and rich caramel making this one quite sweet. Never fear though, as hops make a good showing and balance out this excellent brew.

Tuatara Hefe (5%) is their interpretation of the unfiltered German wheat beer style Hefeweizen. ‘Hefe’ is German for ‘yeast’ and this brew contains a lot of it. This yeast causes the beer to be very cloudy. It was described as “banana juice” by one SOBA member, which might give you an idea of how strong the banana and bubblegum flavours, typical of this style, come through. There is some caramel malt to balance and it ends up being a highly palatable brew. Bound to be a hit with the ladies.

Tuatara Helles (5%) is the latest addition to Tuatara’s range. Released two weeks ago, this beer is designed to introduce the ‘average Joe’ drinker to the Tuatara brand by not being too intimidating with its flavour. Helles is a subtle style, and this interpretation is true to its name. It tastes very mainstream, with a grainy malt flavour that kiwis love. Perhaps bringing this brew up a notch is the subtle influences of hops providing a light and bitter flavour. Look out for this one at Malthouse and Regional Wines and Spirits on tap, and in bottles soon.

Serene beers brewed in a serene location, the Tuatara range can be trusted for a quality beer every time.

If you have any questions about this week’s beers or any comments, please email me at


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Comments (3)

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  1. Mark says:

    Christine, I’ve got an axe to grind with you.

  2. Janis Brinkmann says:

    By “Christine, I’ve got an axe to grind with you” he actually means “Christine, I’ve got a penis to grind in your vagina.”

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