Parrots fly free of cage

Wellington brewery ParrotDog are poised to break out of their restrictive cage/kennel.

With new equipment arriving last week at their just-opened Lyall Bay brewery they will soon be able to produce the huge volume of beer their fans demand.

ParrotDog let out a loud bark last year when they raised $2m of equity in two days on PledgeMe, thanks to some 800 shareholders investing an average of about $2400.

That money went towards the new brewery, which is so close to Wellington airport you will be able to see and hear the planes taking off and landing as you sit in the garden bar (if summer ever sets in).

Matt Kristofski, Matt Stevens, Paul Watson and Matt Warner, who is also the head brewer, have moved out of their cramped Vivian St brewery to a more spacious plant in Lyall Bay. MONIQUE FORD / Fairfax NZ

The new premises will allow ParrotDog to double, treble, even quadruple, the volume they could produce at their cramped and user-unfriendly Vivian St site. The footprint there was so small, they could only brew three days a week, with packaging demanding all the available resource on the other two days of the week.

As a result they had to stop production of their high-end single bottles known as the Flora and Rare Bird series and focus on the high-volume six-packs such as their iconic Bitter Bitch.

The new brewery has a cellar door area, which, like the packaging design, is simple and elegant. An indoor bar is still under construction but will offer views of the production area when complete.

The new facility, which offers the chance to further expand should growth continue, coupled with a distribution deal with Moa has increased the availability of ParrotDog beers in supermarkets across the country.

Bitter Bitch, their approachable 5.8 per cent IPA overflowing with flavour thans to a combo of earthy English bittering hops and with juicy New Zealand flavour hops, remains their best seller but I’ve had my head turned lately by Pandemonium, a pilsner that sits in that nice sub-5 per cent bracket but absolutely delivers on taste.

As an aside, while Pandemonium might seem an unusual name for a relatively tame style such as pilsner, it’s actually the name given to a group of parrots.

And in the vein of Bitter Bitch, Pandemonium deviates slightly from the accepted rules. Most pilsners in New Zealand are either in the classic Czech of German style, featuring a restrained use of spicy European hop varieties, or in the modern New Zealand-style with punchy passionfruit and tropical hop notes.

Pandemonium takes a jump to the west by using (shock, horror) Australian hops.

The result, for me, was a completely new twist on what I thought a pilsner could and should be. There’s a good dose of lemon but underlying that there’s a nice dusty, slightly sweaty hop character which adds to the depth of flavour. With a creamy mouthfeel and a dry finish, it delivers a brisk, refreshing but hugely satisfying taste.