Tuatara Brewing hails from New Zealand and just hit the Atlanta market with 2 offerings – a pilsner and an IPA. Here’s the brewer rundown.
Whether talking about his early days home brewing, the set up Carl and Simone Vasta have now at Tuatara, or the possible need for further expansion, it’s clear that they’re dedicated to continuing to supply the best quality beer to New Zealanders who’re thirsty for it.
A Microbrewery Brewing Wonder
Carl’s passion for brewing started after a trip to London in the 1980’s where he discovered beer didn’t have to be flat or tasteless or come in a flagon. When he had to return home to this dismal imitation of the real thing he knew he hadn’t just found a gap in the market but a hollow void that would seriously affect his quality of life if he did nothing to remedy it. “You come back and there’s one beer on tap, a lager in the fridge, and an imported one a year old and the price of a keg.” So while he worked on as an electrician (his first trade), Carl started home brewing, learning from books, importing yeasts and hops to match and quietly learning his craft. Sometime later the head brewer at the Parrot and Jigger, a brewpub in Petone was leaving his job and offered it to Carl. After two years there he was ready to set up his own brewery, Polar Brewing, having been approached by a couple of publicans and the Workingmans Club to brew beers for their bars. He made good cheap beer, that’s what the publicans wanted, and also developed a speciality beer range, which began winning awards almost straight away. But the market for beer in the lower end price bracket had begun to get fiercely competitive, with the larger breweries ‘buying taps’ to try and push out the smaller brewers and Carl sold up. So, while Polar Brewing — the whole thing — was being shipped to its new owners in Perth, he took over a bar in Raumati, running it with his wife Simone whilst commuting to Australia as a highly sought after brewery consultant and trainer. Finally, in 2002 he got together with Sean Murrie, publican of the Malthouse and Fraser McInnes of the Bar Bodega, who’d both sold Polar Beer in the past. With two popular, established bars to use as outlets, customers on hand to give them feedback, and a farm in Reikorangi to build the brewery on, not to mention a somewhat reticent brewing genius, it was favourable beginnings.
“Yep – engineering is a bit of a hobby.”
Carl built the first brewery by hand from modified dairy tanks, and some equipment he had lying around. He set it up as a small lifestyle brewery with a 1200 litre volume per brew capacity and began brewing Tuatara beer. With customer feedback coming in they were able to refine and perfect the beer range, which never failed to win awards, and soon enough began bottling for Regional Wines in Wellington.
Don’t give him a lot, never more than a spot
In 2007, on the back of the bottled beer sales a German designed brew-house and new fermenters were added, giving Tuatara a capacity of over 35,000 litres. Now, that upgrade is almost at capacity and they’re considering if they can still stay boutique. Whatever the next step, whether they limit growth and remain a boutique microbrewery or expand further, they’re adamant the beer will remain the same. You can’t doubt their integrity, to Carl and Simone, it wouldn’t be worth doing if they had to compromise on quality.
Bohemian Pilsner – 5% ABV. Brewed with German Malt, Saaz hops, Czech yeast. Light, crisp, easy drinking.
India Pale Ale – English IPA, 5% ABV. English malts. English hops. light bitter finish.
More offerings on the way. Theses beers are fresh off the boat and available in 12 oz singles. No word on any draft offerings yet.
Looking for these? Both beers on the shelf at Hop City – 8/17