Often, the simplest and easiest option is to name the brewery after the founder or first brewer. [1] Notable examples in the local industry include Emerson’s, Townshend and Croucher.  Things can a little complicated when the founder leaves but Mike’s Organic Brewery have got round that by consistently hiring brewers called Mike.

Also popular is naming the brewery after local geographical features.  A lot of people don’t realise that Dogfish Head (Delaware) is a peninsula rather than a deliberately absurdist name.  Here, prime examples include Wanaka, Invercargill, Wigram and Coromandel breweries.  The Sawmill brewery is very specific, referring to the former sawmill in Leigh right next to the brewery.  Some names have more personal meaning (Three Boys), reflect a brewing philosophy (Epic) or are just fun (Monkey Wizard).

Here, there is also a bit of a trend towards using the names of native New Zealand animals to impart a distinctively Kiwi flavour.  Prominent examples include Tuatara, Tui, Kiwi and Moa.  It is the last of those breweries which is the focus of this blog post because a big herd of Moa is heading for Wellington.  Even the mighty Google was a bit vague about what a group of Moa are called but it is unlikely to be a flock.  The best suggestions on my Twitter included an extinction of Moa, a hui of Moa or a gaggle of Moa.

On Friday 17 June, the first Major Moa Migration will land at Malthouse with nine beers from the Blenheim Moa brewery on tap, many for the first time here.  They will be arriving shortly after Moa won seven medals at the Australian International Beer Awards, the most of any New Zealand brewery. 

Their medal haul comprised gold for Moa Five Hop Ale in the British Style Ale (Packaged) category, two silvers for Moa Original (European style lager) and Moa Five Hop (Wood-aged beer) plus four bronzes for Moa Methode (European style lager), Moa Pale Ale (American-style pale ale), Moa St Josephs (Abbey-style, Dubbel and Tripel ales) and Moa Imperial Stout (Hybrid beer).

The migration manifest is headed by Moa Methode, a 5.5% drinkable and fun lager with plenty of character and bubble.  It will be joined by Moa Blanc, a 5.5% sparkling wheat beer which is cloudy, spicy and fruity.

Third on the list is Moa Pale Ale.  A relatively recent addition to the range, it is a hoppy little American-inspired number which also weighs in at 5.5%.  Moa Blanc Evolution brings a hint of Belgian to the glass with sharp fruit and a touch of coriander.  Its own website quotes endorsements from both Kieran Haslett-Moore and www.gaynz.com – a possible beer first.

One of my favourites is the Moa 5 Hop which is most certainly not your traditional Winter Ale.  At 6.2%, it is surprisingly light in colour and has a beautiful balance between grainy malt and spicy hops.  Taking it up a notch is the Moa Saint Joseph’s which draws its inspiration from the classic Belgian Tripel style.  Appropriately strong at 9.5%, it has the expected fruit, spice and funky yeast characteristics.

The first dark beer from the brewery was the Moa Noir (5.5%).  As a black lager, it brings in distinctive hints of chocolate and coffee.  It has recently been joined by the muscle-bound Moa Imperial Stout which tips the scales at a hefty 10.2%.  Aged in Pinot Noir barrels, it showcases notes of chocolate, wine, coffee and vanilla.

However, the most talked about variant has to be the Moa Breakfast – a re-named and re-launched version of Moa Harvest.  This wheat based lager has generated a staggering amount of free publicity based solely on its name.  I have personally been on radio to discuss this topic and blogged about it elsewhere. 

The name is clearly intended to be provocative and to generate controversy.  Moa’s own website specifically quotes the main critic, the director of the National Addiction Centre, describing the marketing as “breathtakingly bold” and noting “but he did also go on to say it is normalising pathological behaviour.”  Their own description is ambivalent saying “a very refreshing and fruity lager specifically designed as a European-style breakfast beer but more commonly enjoyed as a mid-afternoon beverage here in New Zealand.  Although not always.”

Geoff Ross recently bought into the company and, to me at least, this looks like a classic 42 Below effort to generate plenty of free publicity.  It seems to have worked in that regard, as has the so-called Beer Bounty. 

The short version of the long story is that Wellington Airport says it is planning to erect a large Wellywood sign near the airport to appeal to international visitors and put Wellington on everyone’s bucket list. [2] This has been met with predictable and justified outrage which only seems to be spurring the Airport to dig their heels in even further.  Within hours, Facebook groups sprung up opposing the sign and some even advocating its destruction. [3]

Moa got in the act offering to give beer if Wellington lost the sign.  Anyone who knocks the sign down will apparently get 15 cases of Moa beer – a not insubstantial Beer Bounty – which is offered again if the sign is re-built.  Once more, plenty of media interest but not quite as much as Breakfast beer.

The bottom line is that Moa is a critically-acclaimed brewery making quality beers.  The unparalleled opportunity to taste a flight or two on 17 June will bring out a lot of keen hunters.

[1] Often the same person given the micro nature of a fledgling brewery.
[2] Similar signs singularly failed to have this effect for Bowen in Queensland or Basildon in Britain though the latter is known as Bas Vegas.
[3] Some went a bit far for Facebook’s liking and were removed (or de-Faced).


Beer Writer
Real Beer New Zealand
Beer and Brewer Magazine


Moa – http://www.moabeer.com/
Moa Blanc Evolution – http://www.moabeer.com/variants/#!/moa-blanc-evolution
Breakfast Beer controversy – http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/4993804/Addicts-the-market-for-new-beer
Beer Bounty controversy – http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/5041724/Beer-bounty-offered-to-destroy-Wellywood-sign
Malthouse on Twitter – http://twitter.com/malthouse
Malthouse Facebook Group – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wellington/Malthouse/7084276173
Real Beer – http://www.realbeer.co.nz 
Beer and Brewer Magazine – http://www.beerandbrewer.com/