Witchdoctor’s craft beer correspondent HADYN GREEN sits down for a pint (or two) and a chat with Tuatara’s head brewer, Paul Roigard.
Making beer is a balancing act. On one side you’ve got the experimentation, the artistry, the individuality of every brew. On the other is consistency, a focus on quality and the determination to make every batch resemble the last.
Most brewers I’ve interviewed talk about the first side of the equation. Paul Roigard, Tuatara’s head brewer, is the first I’ve spoken to who has emphasised the importance of process.
“I personally hate variability in batches of the same beer, it’s the absolute opposite of what we are trying to achieve,” says Paul. “If you order your favourite meal from a restaurant you expect it to taste the same way as last week, and it’s the same with brewing. Brewing is about process and science. People should be able to rely on a beer.”
We’re sitting in Tuatara’s Wellington city taproom, The Third Eye, and sampling several of Tuatara’s hazy IPAs. I ask Paul if taking over a nation-wide brewery was daunting.
“I see it as an opportunity as well as a challenge, it gives me a chance to nail down the brew,” he replies. “We learn using the process from a solid one-off release beer, to help us make another high-volume brew. We’ve also got the benefit of an experimental kit here at The Third Eye which doubles as our creative outlet and trial brewing kit.”
He goes on to give me an explanation of dry-hop creep, where a chemical given off during dry-hopping turns unfermentable sugars into fermentable ones, and the yeast kicks off again and your beer ends up boozier than you thought. A good thing to learn on a small run, rather than on a brew set to be delivered to supermarkets all over the country.
So, consider the launch, earlier this year, of the three IPAs (The Tuatara IPA Trio 6 pack).
“A lot of work goes into getting one beer right, let alone three!”
And drinkers will tell you if anything is off. Critics on the internet are ready to drop harsh criticism at any perceived fault. And it’s especially so of a brewery like Tuatara with a long heritage.
“Stay off Untappd”, laughs Paul. “Brewers are the biggest critics of our own beers.
“I want to make craft beer accessible to everyone as it can be perceived as a bit exclusive. At the end of the day, beer brings people together; it’s universal for a celebration. And that’s why I wanted to become a brewer.
“I made a conscious decision to dial back [a few beers] because sessionability is important. You can’t have a few quiets with friends if those beers are all over 7%. And really, as skilled brewers, we should be able to create a session beer without compromising on the flavour profile.”
We end our chat with an in-depth discussion on Belgian beers that I will save for another time (Paul likes them, I don’t). It does emphasise the enjoyment of a good old fashioned debate and the part it plays in this long-loved and well-supported industry.
* This has been a Witchdoctor promotional feature.