Hospitality Business Magazine

MASU celebrates spring with seasonal ale

Haru Orchard AleTo celebrate the Japanese custom of welcoming the new temperate season, award-winning chef Nic Watt and his team have launched a new brew called Haru Orchard Ale.

It’s a collaboration between MASU by Nic Watt, celebrated Japanese brewer Baird Beer and local craft brew house Hallertau. The brew has been inspired by a mandarin sorbet enjoyed by Nic at world famous Spanish restaurant elBulli.

Haru means spring in Japanese and the idea for a seasonal beer came about when Nic and Masu bar manager Brandon Walker began discussing what they could do to mark the restaurant’s first anniversary.

“We thought, ‘let’s celebrate the change of season with a completely new beer with a Japanese bent and let’s work with people we really like’ – as you do,” Nic says.

“Design by committee can sometimes dump a camel on your desk but when it comes to beer, there’s a growing trend for brewers to collaborate with restaurateurs and other flavour merchants.

“Spring brings blossom and that made me think of the sorbet at elBulli.  I’m a big fan of Baird Beer and so we talked to Bryan in Japan and Stephen at Hallertau and the plan gained momentum,” Nic says.

Hallertau Brewbar and Restaurant co-owner Stephen Plowman says the brief was both intriguing and challenging.

“Baird is renowned as a Witbier expert and our know-how lies in pale ales which are often heavier brews so it has been a coming together of ideas. When you’re coordinating brewing across 9,000 kilometres of Pacific Ocean using only email and phone it takes a while to sort out a collaboration.

“We started work on the project in June with Bryan providing invaluable detail on the Japanese brewing side of things. We had great input from everyone and people were totally committed to making it work and the result is simply brilliant,” Stephen says.

Haru Orchard Ale is brewed at Hallertau using only New Zealand ingredients including raw wheat, NZ barley, NZ male barley, sour malt, NZ hops and infused with grapefruit blossom.

Nic Watt says the collaboration is a “fantastic result”.

“Everyone’s pleased with the outcome and it’s opportune considering we’ve been open for one year now. But there’s only 2,000 litres so you need to be in quick,” Nic says, “although Stephen does say if the beer is as popular as he thinks it will be he’ll do another run.”

Haru Orchard Ale is available exclusively on tap and in 500ml bottles at MASU by Nic Watt or on tap only at Hallertau Brewery in Riverhead north-west of Auckland.