Timber and beer may not be likely comrades, but in Queenstown, the two are being combined to illustrate a major local environmental issue.
Award-winning Queenstown craft beer company Altitude Brewing has partnered with tourism operator Skyline Queenstown to produce an exclusive tap beer that acknowledges the threat of wilding pines in the area.
Skyline food and beverage manager Pierre Poyet says the novel approach was suggested when the company was pondering the development of its own beer.
“We are not brewers, and we wanted to use local craftsmanship when producing a beer,” Poyet says. “So we approached Altitude and worked with them to create a recipe for us that would fit our brand well, and tell the story of the wilding pines.”
These pines are a major threat to the Wakatipu landscape, replacing native beech forests and tussock. They are capable of significantly changing the landscape, and Skyline runs quarterly eradication programmes to control a large area on Bob’s peak, tackling seedlings and medium-growth trees.
Skyline also donates a significant amount of money to the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group. “We have a very unique landscape up here, and it’s one that we need to be aware of and protect for generations to come,” Poyet says.
“Many people who come up to Skyline don’t actually know why we are trying to get rid of the trees, and we have to explain that they are destroying our native flora. The beer will be a good conversation-starter, so we can inform more people on a daily basis.”
The Tenacious Timber is an XPA beer – a style that hovers between a traditional pale ale and an India pale ale. It was launched in the presence of members of the control group and the Department of Conservation.
Altitude Brewing managing director Eddie Gapper says the specifics of the recipe were left up to founder/brewer Eliott Menzies, who threw in an Australian hop to cater for the scores of Aussie visitors to Skyline.
“He developed it after rigorous research and testing,” Gapper says. “The Tenacious Timber will be characterful yet approachable, like all of our beers, with a fruity/citrus aroma and a fresh, easy-drinking palate. We think the beer will fit perfectly into our range of beers, and give every craft beer fan in New Zealand a great reason to head up the gondola.”
The tap badge with a “timber man that looks suitably rugged and tenacious to help bring the problem of wilding pines to life” has been designed by Altitude, which believes businesses need to be involved in the communities they operate in.
“With our ‘1% for the Wakatipu’ programme already in place, it felt like a very natural fit when talking to Skyline about using the beer to help support their efforts at wilding pine control,” Gapper says.
The Tenacious Timber title came about through a competition Skyline held to name the beer.
Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group manager Briana Pringle says wilding pines are a huge problem, with the community trying to eradicate seedling trees over a substantial area of the Wakatipu.
“We are grateful to Skyline Queenstown and Altitude Brewing for their support and for coming up with a fantastic idea to raise awareness,” she says.