19 Feb 2014
We are officially underway! Sparks Brewing is a new contract brewery operating out of Auckland New Zealand and brewing beer wherever a free tank is available. Our first steps into the commercial world will be out of Scotts Brewing in Oamaru some time over the next two months. I brew small batches at home on a four-vessel HERMS (heat exchanged recirculating mash system). I brew at least once a week and often 3 or more times on the same recipe, splitting batches with different yeast, hops and water additions to compare and really explore every angle before deciding on which recipe makes the cut and into the commercial world. This process which started as a hobby is really a second job in itself, I take it seriously and probably dump more beer than I make in the search for perfect balance.
I like to focus on the little details, if I have exactly the right ppm of sodium and calcium in my water. Do I have just the right amount of crystal malt or roast, is my oxygen saturation just right, how many yeast cells do I actually have, exactly what temperatures are being controlled when and where. These are all simple details but together they add up to a complex process which comes together in the making of exceptional beer.
Over the years Ive won my fair share of awards at the national competition (Soba NHC) with a handful of bronze, silver and the coveted gold medals that are the holy grail of the home brew elite. I feel that this is the ultimate acid test. If you can achieve a gold in any category at the nationals, you can and should be selling your beer!
Im hugely inspired by whats happening in the craft beer world right now, both on the shelf and on the internet, there is so much variety and so many great minds behind the products. From the artwork to the flavours, the writers, scientists, fans and the geeks. There is a culture growing with a lot of momentum and it feels exciting to be a part of. As our range expands Ill add the beers and build the website (thanks to Lightbox Creative) around the products which finally hit the shelf. In a perfect world Sparks Brewing will be a constantly evolving seasonal brewery, meaning that each brew we undertake commercially will be a new beer in a revolving list of styles that Im digging throughout the year. If anything, you'll be able to rely on Sparks as your 'go to' when in need of something new.
So expect to see a regular blog filled with our success and failures, lots of geeky talk on ingredients and process and plenty of photo’s from both the homebrew and commercial world of beer.