Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hostels = Bad, Brewery = Good

Sorry about the lack of photos, Blogger changed it's photo format on me and now it doesn't recognize any of my shots.  Argh.  Also it isn't as fast as I type, so I'm doing a ton of backspacing.  And then my palm will dust the mouse pad thingee accidentally and it brings my cursor to a different paragraph and then I'm typing in the wrong spot. 

So tonight I find myself at the "Ivory Towers", a backpackers hostel where I snagged a bunk in a 6-bed-dorm for $21.  I am the only one in my room.  YAY!  Last night I knew I had dorm mates because there were two backpacks in my room when I checked in.  But they weren't there when I went to bed.  I heard a ruckus at 1:30am of people trying to be quiet but they weren't.  This morning I found out it was two boys from Israel.  Ha!  They sounded like girls, and even their backpacks seemed girly.  I just assumed that you get like a female/male separated dorm bed.  Nope.  Staying in hostels is pretty weird sometimes. 

I always make sure to knock before I enter a shared room even with my key just in case somebody is dressing or something. Not these boys. So fortunately they didn't arrive while I was getting ready. Anyway that's why I'm excited not to be sharing my room tonight. There is plenty of space in here. But the room smells musty. I checked out the showers, they SUCK. And, no key.  I asked for one, and the lady was like, "oh, we don't worry about things like THAT around here."  OK lady, I hope I don't get raped.  I am just not a backpacker. Sorry, I'm just not.

So anyway I checked out of my other hostel this morning at 10am and then had brekky and some internet time until 11:20 when I drove a few blocks to the Monteith's Brewery for a tour and tasting. The tour was actually pretty amazing. It started with a barley tasting, with 6 different malts, and ended with an 8-beer taste plus a pour of your favorite. All for $9.00. 

So Montieth's has three breweries in New Zealand and this one mainly brews their Cider and then their original ale. On occasion they will also brew a special seasonal beer. In the 70's this brewery employed 78 full time people.  It was actually shut down at one point.  But in typical New Zealander style, the community got behind the employees and boycotted the company, so they were forced to reopen the plant.  Now there are only 6 full time employees. Two Brew Masters, an Engineer, a Mechanic to run the boiler, a front desk girl, and a guy to work on the bottling machine. All six of them have been there for a LONG time. One guy has 44 years, two more have 24 years, etc. They also employ 8 part time guys to help with bottling. They manually put bottles into cases at this place. It's pretty crazy. They have a machine that bottles run through that reminded me of Laverne and Shirley. I really wanted to put a glove on one of the bottles, but didn't know if that American humor would be lost on the New Zealanders.

We got to go up and look into an open vat of beer that was fermenting in the yeast. They use wet yeast, and then the beer goes in there and sits for 8 days. It has to be the right temperature, not too hot and not too cold, in order that the yeast can do it's job. There was a ton of froth at the top (probably a foot-and-a-half thick) that was bubbling and bubbling. I asked what happens if a hair or dust falls in there, and she showed me the filter that it goes through after and I felt better. The yeast is reused after three months, but they drain the beer, and then scrape the yeast for reuse during the three month period.

The engineer guy, who I met and forced to take a picture with me, saved the company thousands and thousands of dollars by building from scrap two machines. One is to pressure fill in dented kegs. They used to throw away kegs with too many dents because they didn't fill to 'weight' and so they couldn't be sold. They paid $400 new for them and they only scrapped out at $22. So it's expensive to get new ones. So he brilliantly made this machine to smooth out the dents for $3000. It paid for itself in the first day. The next machine was the bottling thing. They were going to have to replace it for $250,000. Instead he built one from scrap for $17,500. The guy is in the photo on the right hand side. See me, trying to get them to like, squeeze in for the photo and smile, and them, like not having it? Guy on the left has been at the plant for 44 years and he runs the boiler.

I'm going to add a link here for all of my South Island photos, you'll be able to figure out the interesting rocks from last post and the brewery pics from this post. Hopefully.

And, finally, a link to the Brewery's website.  I found the brewer's blog pretty interesting.  Check it out my brewing friends.  This means you: Kay O., Dan F., Scott T., Adam G., and Ezra M.  These guys really love brewing beer.  Their master brewers have been doing it for 24 years, and they continue to win awards.  They have a really cool contest for the South Island restaurants to come up with wild game recipes that would go well with the different brews.  (Featured on the website also.)

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