Altitude Brewing is working with Skyline Queenstown to make a beer to fight wilding pines.
Wilding pines and firs are a problem throughout the South Island high country, spreading into the indigenous tussock. Volunteers like Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group chop the saplings before they seed.
Altitude Tenacious Timber XPA (4.5%) is brewed exclusively for the Skyline complex at the top of Queenstown’s gondola. At 800m above sea level, this is as high as craft beer gets in New Zealand.
Altitude’s managing director Eddie Gapper says the beer was developed from the start to raise awareness and money for the campaign to prevent introduced wilding pines and firs spreading through the mountains. A proportion of every sale is donated to the Control Group.
“We went to Skyline and to be honest we didn’t hold out much hope”, Eddie says. “They’re locked up with Lion, they’re owned by a group of taciturn Southlanders and they’re deeply conservative. But they thought our range was approachable and interesting. Then they came back to us and said ‘We’re not interested in any of your beers. We want our own. And we want it to help support our wilding pine control work’.”
After some discussion, Altitude brewer Eliott Menzies designed Tenacious Timber XPA – a pale ale with Brooklyn and Galaxy hops. “We included Galaxy because we thought it would be a neat thing given the huge volume of Australian visitors they have up there, and so we gave them an Australian hop with a Kiwi twist.”
Skyline’s facilities management team then built the beer tap, using a log for the riser, and an actual real hatchet for the tap handle. What could possibly go wrong?
Eddie says Tenacious Timber might well differ from other XPAs. That’s because he doesn’t really know what XPA means. “I’m not sure everyone’s interpretation of it is the same yet. Someone told me it stood for ‘extra pale’, as in a dialled-down pale ale which is cleaner, lighter crisper. And I think it’s a dialled-up pale ale with something extra. So our XPA is a pale ale, but it has a more hop-forward aroma with the Brooklyn and the Galaxy, so you get some grapefruit and passionfruit but the palate is still long and clean.”