More to Marlborough than wine

Marlborough has been a quiet achiever in the New Zealand craft brew industry. It has an international profile for its grapes and winemakers, but there’s more to Marlborough than wine.

One of the pioneers of the current generation of craft brewers was Pink Elephant, with the quirky and challenging Pink Elephant PDA. This was on the bill when the Malthouse opened on Willis Street in 1993 and the malty strong ale stood out like a Pink Elephant against the range of lagers available at the time. I think the PDA-styling was a bit of an in-joke – someone told me it stood for Public Display of Affection, brought on my too many pints. Maybe.

Today Blenheim, the political, corporate and entertainment capital of the Marlborough region, has three dedicated craft beer bars and two quality breweries. All this and it’s a short ocean cruise from my hillside apartment. Grouse!

Renaissance Brewing Company is in an historic factory complex in Blenheim’s northern suburbs. It has door sales and if you ask nicely and get there at a quiet time, they might give you the tour. Renaissance has a full range of nine ales plus seasonals.

Renaissance development manager Roger Kerrison told me in August that all Renaissance beers are produced with the same ale yeast, as this suits their range and avoids possible contamination between different strains. No lagers here, but the Paradox Blond Ale is a more than acceptable substitute.

Renaissance also conducts contract brewing, most notably for No.8 Wired. No.8’s brewer Soren Eriksen works for Renaissance as his day job, and gets to make his own brews on their equipment. Nice gig if you can get it.

The Olde Malthouse is next door to the brewery and is part of the same old factory. It actually looks like it has housed malt at some stage in the past, and today is an authentic-looking country inn with all of Renaissance’s beers on tap.

Moa Brewing Company has always had strong links to Marlborough’s wine industry – the brewery was established by Josh Scott from the Alan Scott family. The viticulture links are seen in the premises and the product.

Moa’s brewery and bar are surrounded by vineyards on the Wairau Flats about 6km west of Blenheim’s CBD and near Blenheim International Airport. The rapid transit system doesn’t run this far so you’ll need you own transport.

Other brew bars should take a lesson from Moa. Rather than selling a tasting tray and leaving you to it, Moa takes you on a guided tour through the range. Each Moa beer is offered in a small wine tasting glass, with an explanation from the bar staff of the style, how it’s made and what makes each one different. This presentation has been adopted directly from the wine industry and it lifts the craft beer industry to a whole new level of presentation. Other brew bars should visit Moa and use its tasting presentation as a new benchmark. The tasting is free too, if you decide to buy a bottle – bargain!

Blenheim’s third craft beer bar is The Old Bank Bar & Cafe. This one is a bit out of town, in Redwoodtown, a satellite commercial and retail hub on Blenheim’s South Side. The Old Bank is a typical neighbourhood bar with huge, simple meals and locals in their favourite seat. It stocks a good range of craft beers from Blenheim and the rest of New Zealand.

Owner Mike Pink is the brother of Roger Pink of Pink Elephant, and is an active SOBA member. If you’re lucky you might meet other Blenheim beer folk at The Old Bank, including our oldest beer writer Geoff Griggs and the Renaissance crew doing quality control.

All up, Marlborough and its craft brewers are well worth a trip for the local beer fan.

And on a more serious note, my thoughts and sympathies go out to all those hit by the Christchurch earthquake. Breweries are always vulnerable in a quake, with big, top-heavy tanks and other flying hazards. Does anyone have updates about how the local brewers and their premises have fared through the quake and the ongoing aftershocks?


Follow us on Twitter @nzbeerblog
©Martin Craig. Reproduction with permission only.

16 Responses to “More to Marlborough than wine”

  1. We went for a nice Saturday drive over to Blenheim a few weeks ago – had a great pizza at The Olde Malthouse and some nice hand-pumped Elemental Porter. I’d been meaning to check out this place for a while and wasn’t dissapointed.

    Here’s the clean-up job at Lion Brewery:

    Heard Three Boys have some twisted legs on their tanks but aren’t too bad. Haven’t heard about others – hope the Twisted Hop is OK. Was planning a trip down that way in 2 weeks but think that will have to be postponed.


  2. I love reading through an article that will make people think.
    Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!


  3. This slim and light tablet comes with specifications that provides high computing
    power. They support USB, HDMI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, network adapter, 3G and many more than the standard net books on the market.
    They only need to spend more affordable value for the technologies
    meanwhile they can get the exact same satisfaction as when they use i – Pad.


  4. This article provides clear idea in support of the new visitors of blogging, that actually
    how to do blogging.

    My blog post escorts Oceanville NJ (


  5. Quite part of information. I recently found your internet site plus in accession money to convey which i obtain the fact is enjoyed consideration the blog page articles. However I will be following with your complement and also We results you get admission to continually quickly.


  6. Some of the perfectly working solutions such as the weight loss surgeries are hidden
    beneath the mountain of weight loss scams.
    So if you’re making an effort to lose weight, then keep
    away from consuming sugar or any sweeteners except those that comes naturally.
    Having more healthy cells and tissues will definitely improve your metabolism since it is your cells and tissues that metabolize your calories to fuel your bodily functions, after all.

    Also visit my blog – phentermine side effects search (


  7. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your website.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it
    much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often.
    Did you hire out a designer to create your
    theme? Great work!


  8. 8) Property are the main reasons for divorce
    in india. It is an option to ask your friends or relatives
    if they know a lawyer who is known to have an effective performance in the field.
    You need to hire an attorney to make sure your payment is

    My website – Personal Injury Attorney Maryland


  9. Not all experienced divorce attorney charge an arm and a leg
    to fight your case. Here is a list of 7 places to start looking for an divorce attorney.

    An experienced and knowledgeable divorce attorney
    can help you to explore options for refinancing debt or paying
    off debts through the sale of property to ensure that you are both

    Look at my web blog … DUI Attorney Virginia Beach


  10. This is how to prevent frost buildup on your sewer
    vent pipe so you can install an odor eliminator. You have to consider certain facts
    before making sure that your house becomes a real ‘home’.
    It may not be a bargain overall, since the user
    is tempted to employ extra.

    Also visit my website: Sewer Reno NV


  11. Hi admin do you need unlimited articles for your website ?
    What if you could copy post from other websites, make it unique and publish on your site – i know the right tool for you,
    just search in google:
    Loimqua’s article tool


  12. Hello admin of this blog, do you allow guest posting ???

    Please let me know, i am interested :)



  1. Tweets that mention More to Marlborough than wine | --

Leave a Reply

Copyright ©     Powered by WordPress MU    Designed by WPDesigner    Hosted by