Wild & Woolly Brewing

October 15th, 2015

Many breweries have popped up around Wellington in the last three years. This has been convenient for The Beer Project because I haven’t been able to get out of Wellington to photograph breweries as often as I’d like. Recently two brewers, Llew Bardecki of Wild & Woolly Brewing, and Annika Naschitzki of Tiamana Brewery, have joined forces and finances to create a shared brewery in the suburb of Mt Cook, only two hundred metres from my office. Even more convenient.

The Wild & Woolly name could be equally well inspired by it’s handsomely dishevelled owner, Llew, or his wonderfully inventive brews. A 2.5% Berlinner weisse is already an unusual style in New Zealand, but add kaffir lime leaf, lemon zest and Thai basil, then you definitely have a wild and wacky, but incredibly tasty, beer. The brewery officially launched at Hashigo Zake with a beer named Silver Cat Angry Gummy Bear White Stout, an absurd and previously non-existent concept beer invented by Dylan Jauslin in a parody post about the top 20 beers you must try before you die. Just the type of challenge Llew enjoys.

Llew has been inspired by relatively normal (and existent) beers too. Early in his home brew career Llew tasted Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black and loved it so much he decided to make a clone. It turned out pretty well. Today he was brewing that hoppy porter again. To celebrate the beer’s origin Llew is wearing a Yeastie Boys t-shirt. “An observation I’ve made, and Stu [McKinlay of the Yeastie Boys] will like this, is that brewers are like bands: they will wear t-shirts of other brewers while they work,” a particularly apt simile given most of the Yeastie Boys beers being inspired by songs.

Llew expects this brew to hit the limit of what the mash tun can comfortably hold. Mashing-in starts well but the mash temperature end up too high. Llew starts adding buckets of cold water to bring the the temperature down. The mash level gets dangerously close to the top before the temperature is close. Deft use of the mash paddle blends the cold water with the warm, and the correct temperature is reached without a drop spilt

A few weeks later I return. Llew is transferring the base beer for his Pacific Beer Expo beer into a white wine barrel for three weeks. It is a blonde ale so there is plenty of time to impart a subtle oak flavour that shouldn’t overpower the beer. It will be dry hopped with Pacifica hops and mandarin closer to the festival. As the beer is transferred Llew cleans a few kegs. Everything runs smoothly. The brewery is hosed down.

Llew is wearing his Yeastie Boys t-shirt again so we finish the night with a portrait, one to confound future beer historians.

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