BrewNZ Gold Medal 2007 and Best in Class, AIBA Silver Medal 2010
Characteristics: A German style bock beer using our own Manuka smoked malt to give a distinctive smoke character that’s balanced out with the richness of the bock using our own yeast. Served with Smoky Sausages the smoke disappears into a funky fruity bock.
Color: Deep red brown
Alcohol: 7% by volume
Malt: Gladfield (NZ), Manuka smoked, Applewood Smoked
Hops: Pacific Jade
Yeast: House lager
Availability: Limited winter release returning from July 1, 2012 in 330ml bottles.
Brewmaster’s Remarks: Not for the fainthearted! Ask about a vertical tasting, we’ve aged beer from 2008,2009 and 2011 vintages.
What began as an experiment became a beer icon.
Inspired by tales of Alaskan smoked porter, our head brewer Steve Nally was keen to experiment with smoked beer in a malt-driven style, which he believed would best complement a smoke flavour.
He decided to trial smoke in a bock-style beer to give apprentice Pru Bishop experience producing a 50-litre brew. (We’ll put the emergence of a smoked beer at a time when both had just kicked their cigarette habits down to pure coincidence.)
In 2007 there was no malt smoked commercially in New Zealand, so Steve decided to make his own so the beer would embody the genuine Kiwi flavor of Manuka smoke.
Steve convinced a local butcher to cold-smoke a small trial of Gladfield malt, which he batch dried in his home oven (his house reeked for days afterwards).
The first taste impressed and – to the delight of the new apprentice – was bestowed the moniker Smokin’ Bishop (Her blunt prose made her an overnight media star, but that’s another story).
A 600 litre batch for commercial sale was produced and put on tap at our Wood Street bottle store where it quickly dispersed among a rapidly-building legion of fans. Our all-but sold-out brew secured a gold medal and Best in Class on debut at the BrewNZ Awards in 2007.
By Winter 2008 we needed to enlist Bowmont Meats butchery to assist with bulk smoking, allowing us to regulate the smoke and flavour required and increase production.
Then we put Smokin’ Bishop in a bottle, the 640ml long-neck that’s become the hall-mark of our built-to-share seasonal range, so for the first time Bishop could be distributed to a clamouring New Zealand-wide audience, who snapped up the first 1200 litre batch before it was even brewed.
As a boutique brewery, we get immense satisfaction from crafting a beer that finds it niche. Smokin’ Bishop has etched its’ name in the history books as New Zealand’s first commercially available smoked beer and regularly features on various “must try” brew lists.
It’s even been selected to feature in a new international publication, 1001 Beers You Must Drink Before You Die – one of just 15 kiwi beers to get the nod.
An accolade that’s not just extremely satisfying, but also quite humbling. Testament to its popularity, in 2009 we’d presold nearly two full batches ahead of its July 1 launch date.
Despite the beer’s runaway popularity we’ve been holding something back. Watch the launch of Old Smokin’ Bishop – when fans will finally be able to compare brews from three consecutive years – to see how the smoke flavor changes and evolves over time.
PS/ There’s truly is nothing new under the sun. Once upon a time in brew history the only way to dry malted barley was over a smokey fire – the result all beer had that smokey malt flavor.