Smokin’ Bishop is a German style bock beer using our own smoked malt to give a distinctive smoke character that’s balanced out with the richness of the bock. Served with Smoky Sausages the smoke disappears into a funky fruity bock. Because we smoke our own malt and can’t resist trying different wood combinations – each vintage is distinct. This cellars beautifully, so we encourage fans to buy one for now and one for later … and maybe even another for later again … to create your own vertical tasting.
Our 2016 Vintage is a combination of fresh chips from sustainably logged Catlins rainforest Rimu – start by pouring into a brandy balloon – then swirl to release an aroma of Kiwi campfire.
While this was still in the fermenter we were getting hints of the original 2007 bishop – biscuity rich malt sweetness where the astringency of the smoke lends it weight to a smattering of hops to balance, before ending with a dry finish. Tasting great at its June release, this is one that will only improve with age as the smoke flavour rounds out the richness of the malt.
If you haven’t had time to prepare your own Cellared bottles ask us about some of the 2009 and 2011 vintages we hid from the accountant.
The back story:
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 flavour 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. The 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.
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 fire – the result all beers were smoked.