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The Star 23 Our People Brewer with the golden touch Three Boys brewer Eli Haines has just won gold at the New World Beer & Cider Awards for his new brew, West Coast Red IPA. He spoke to Gabrielle Stuart about what went into a good brew Latest Christchurch news at www. .kiwi Thursday April 13 2017 Eli Haines How did you get into brewing? Well, I left high school all ready to go into forestry, because I was interested in organic chemistry and things like that, and I already had an interest in beer. I was entirely enrolled, just needed to do the student loan paperwork, which I was set to do the next week. But then I met the head brewer from Cassels & Sons at the Woolston farmers’ market. I got talking to him and he said he was looking for someone, so I decided to forego university and take on an apprenticeship-type role at Cassels. What did your family think of that? My dad was less impressed, my mum liked it a bit more. But they both liked that I was going into work in an apprenticeship-like role, not just joining a circus or something. And what was the job like, initially? So my initial role was tidying up and scraping labels off bottles, that kind of thing. Then I moved up to scrubbing tanks and doing more of the hands on side of brewing. So wait – being allowed to clean the tanks was a promotion? This isn’t sounding very glamorous. That’s right – but the cleaning is very important, because everywhere the beer touches needs to be kept sterile. I still do a lot of cleaning of the tanks, so I’ve just graduated to cleaning bigger bottles, pretty much. That was seven years ago now, so I worked there for three years and did qualifications on the side, and then applied for a role at Three Boys and took on a chief brewertype role. Could you explain to me in layman’s terms the science of brewing a good beer? In terms of what makes a good beer versus a bad one, the main thing is hygiene and sterility, only letting in one specific yeast, rather than letting in a lot of organisms. We take barley and soak that in water, which releases the enzymes which changes starches into sugars. Then we take the sugars out and sterilise them by boiling, and that’s when we add hops for bittering and stability and flavour. We call that brewer’s wort, it’s a syrup with hops in it, essentially. We then ferment that with a certain yeast strain, which takes sugar and converts it to alcohol, and at that point you can start calling it beer. Then we mature it and it becomes clear and carbonated. How long does it take? To make the wort it takes one full day of brewing, then it ferments for about a week and conditions for about two weeks. So about three weeks in total. It’s a lot faster than spirits or wine. How do you develop your recipes? We have a little trial brew kit which produces about 50 litres at a time. So I’ll make a trial brew and test it with the team here and with my family and friends. If it’s good I scale it up, and if it’s bad we never talk about it again. What are some of the brews you haven’t taken to market? There are quite a few where the flavours work but we don’t think it would sell. I did a trial brew of an apple pie beer, which was really good, but we couldn’t see it selling particularly well. That sounds delicious. Well that’s good – I’ve got one customer then. At the moment I’m trialling a peaches and cream IPA, so if that’s any good you’ll see it in the shop. Usually the bad ones don’t get too far. I’ll sometimes come up with weird flavours in my head and talk to my boss about them, but he tends to shut the worst ones down. And tell me about your new award-winning brew? It’s a West Coast Red IPA. The west coast of America is famed for intense hops, so I sourced a bunch of hops there, but also used a lot of caramel type malts. It’s a mix of sweet caramel toffee with these really intense American piney hops, with some hints of citrus and passion. So it’s a really strong blend of flavours that balance well together. People seem to be a lot more adventurous now with their beers. It means we can be a bit crazier with flavours and people are more accepting of it. So it’s PROUD: Eli Haines with the West Coast Red IPA - caramel type malts. Above – The Three Boys Brewery in Woolston. PHOTOS; GEOFF SLOAN always a good thing more people are into beers, but on the other hand I have had a lot of very average home brew. People have been brewing beer for hundreds of years – do you think those ancient beers would taste the same? They would probably be along the same lines, because it has always been malt and hops and water for a long time now. But some of them would be quite strange because they didn’t have a knowledge of microbiology like we do now, so they were leaving that really important flavour step of the process completely up to chance, just whatever microflora was in the area at the time. And tell me a bit about your interests outside work? I enjoy surfing, and I host a radio show on RDU, Blue Mondays. We play alternative stuff, so I’m quite involved in the music scene in Christchurch, always looking for new music. And when you go out yourself, what beer would you drink? I really enjoying tasting other beer and trying something new. But sometimes you want the comfort of drinking something you know, so right now for me that would be our Three Boys lager, it’s a great beer.