Not content with simply entering one of the many blind-judged beer competitions in Australia and New Zealand, last weekend Dunedin brewery Emerson's took on Western Australian brewery Little Creatures in a challenge of their own making, agitating the Australian / NZ rivalry once more, in the most joyful of fashions.
As a marketing exercise it was as far away as you could imagine from the hype-laden hyperbole driven events you often get with beer. The words 'truth' and 'marketing' are not always comfortable bedfellows, but the challenge between Emerson’s from Dunedin and Perth based Little Creatures was all about people, ingredients and authenticity. The fact that a beer marketing event focused on these elements, along with the painstaking process that goes into making great beer was both refreshing, surprising and a great deal of fun. It also says a great deal about the protagonists.
Both breweries share common ownership by Lion and despite the fear of many fans who lamented the purchase of Emerson’s in late 2012, all the evidence suggests that the new owner has no intention of interfering with what makes Emerson’s great and the same appears to be the case for Little Creatures. In fact, talking to the Emerson’s people, the new investment in plant and equipment, off the back of the sale can only help them produce more and better beer
Little Creatures lay down a weighty challenge in the form of a Red Rye Ale, previously unknown territory for the Dunedin team. Using Australian hops, the brewers got to work in the most competitively collaborative way to lay down the foundations for the IPA, which will be released to the market in October.
The challenge resumes in two week's time, when the Emerson's team will head to Fremantle to assist the brewers at Little Creatures in creating a Saison - a Belgium style, yeast-drive ale - a recipe the Emerson's team excel at, as evidenced by their classic "JP".