By James Atkinson

Monteith’s Brewing Company recently celebrated another year of its long-running support for an iconic New Zealand festival of bush tucker and other unusual delicacies.

Monteith’s invited Australian media to attend last weekend’s Wildfoods Festival in Hokitika, on the West Coast of the South Island, a short coastal drive from the brewer’s home in Greymouth.

More than 12,000 locals attended the this year’s event, which featured no less than 50 “wild” food stalls offering west coast staples like whitebait fritters alongside more challenging and controversial fare such as huhu beetle grubs, seagull eggs, mutton bird, scorpions, grasshoppers (pictured) and ‘protein shots’ (stallion semen).

The extreme eating was complemented by local music acts and brews from Monteith’s including its Original Ale, Golden Lager, Ginger Beer, Crushed Apple Cider, and the newcomer to the range, Monteith’s American Ale. [continues below]

The Monteith's tent at Wildfoods Festival, Hokitika

Rugged West Coast origins

The visit aimed to give Australians an insight into the rugged west coast heritage of both Monteith’s and Wildfoods, Grant Caunter, marketing manager at Drinkworks, Monteith’s Australian distributor, told TheShout.

“There’s always been a feeling that the West Coast is a bit wild. There’s a natural bounty – feeding off the land is inherent in that area."

“Things have always been a bit harder economically out there. Over the years they have lost some of the major industries of gold, coal and timber, and from a weather point of view it’s pretty extreme.”

“Family and friendships count for everything, and at the end of the day, you can’t think of anything better than a beer. It’s that kind of sentiment that is right up and down that West Coast area,” Caunter said. [continues below]

Monteith's head brewer Tony Mercer

New brewery, new packaging

The West Coast media tour also occasioned a visit to the revamped Monteith’s brewery, which now acts as an innovation hub for the brand, crafting small quantities of beer and acting as a testing ground for future Monteith's brews.

Caunter said the Australian market will continue to receive the small batch Brewers Series beers on draught and in 500ml bottles. The Double Hopped IPA and Imperial Pilsener are currently on the market here, and the abovementioned American Pale Ale is coming soon along with a rejigged Ginger Beer.

Monteith’s has also refreshed the packaging of its core range of beers (pictured below) and tweaked the recipe for the Pilsener, which has been rebranded as a Bohemian Pilsener, as well as the Pale Ale, which will soon be labelled as the Southern Pale Ale. [continues below]

“They’ve added a bit more aroma to the Pale Ale, it’s got more of that distinctive New Zealand plum and passionfruit aroma to it,” Caunter said.

The Winter Ale meanwhile has been relabelled as a Dopplebock.

“It used to have more of a sidenote that it was a Dopplebock. We’ve actually now made that the brand because people are searching for beers more by style now,” Caunter said.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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