We’re blessed to have some powerhouse women propping-up our industry. Women like Sprig and Fern’s Tracy Banner, who was given a standing-ovation at this year’s Brewer’s Guild of New Zealand Awards when receiving the coveted Morton Coutts Trophy. And like Tammy Viitakangas, who helped usher-in the new wave of New Zealand craft brewing way-back in the early-Noughties when she opened Mata Brewing Company.
People like Tracy and Tammy have paved the path toward women achieving full-participation (and recognition) within a traditionally-blokey industry. A nasty whiff of sexism still pongs our scene from time to time; but the stench is far more awkward these days. I reckon we’re leaving the bad-old-days behind us – and a chunk of the credit for that evolution must go to our pioneering women.
Standing among the pioneers is Gabi Michael – the magnetic co-founder of Gladfield Malt. Born in Brazil, she emigrated to New Zealand 15 years ago – setting up Gladfield with her husband Doug in 2004. Few would disagree that Gladfield has gone from strength-to-strength since then; and there’s little doubt that Gabi’s infectious enthusiasm and can-do attitude has been a significant part of that success.
A keen homebrewer, Gabi often has the enviable task of beta-testing the wonderful new malts that the Gladfield team create; and as such, she’s developed a keen palate for good beer. She’s gracefully accepted my invitation to share her own mixed-six beer styles – the six styles she couldn’t live without if marooned on a desert island – and as always, the words below are her own.
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Before I moved to New Zealand and started the malting business with my husband Doug, I only knew/drank one style of beer, Lager. We drank it very cold, and the taste was more like bitter water than beer. Brazil is a tropical county, and we thought that cold and easy drinking beer is all we could’ve drink or would’ve liked the taste of.
Well, wasn’t I surprised to know that is more to beer then drink a watery Lager? I love the complexity of beer styles and how much flavours can change from one to another. All pretty much using the same basic ingredients. Fantastic!
Now with my little 15 year’s experience in drinking different styles of beer, I introduce you to Gabi’s top 6 pics:
Not hop forward like most craft beers, more like a classic style. A style that I would drink over summer by the pool, nice and cold or at our Friday Happy hours during spring and summer months. The flavours are awesome and refreshing. Banana, clover and zesty lemon.
A style that I fell in love with while we developed Shepherds Delight Malt. Complex flavours, to be enjoyed in the evenings with family and friends. A well brewed Red Ale is hard to beat for me. The appearance of this beer is the most attractive factor. Red Ale on a hand pump is to die for. Malty caramel flavours.
This is a new style that I have slowly starting to understand. I was lucky to meet Randy Mosher who is NEIPA guru from America and his passion for the style was contagious. I love the aroma and low bitterness. For me a style to drink anytime, however, the high alcohol content makes it hard to have more than one pint. Fruity aroma, not bitter.
Our staff Caleb DeFrees has introduced me to this style. I was not a fan to start of, but he brewed a Saison on our pilot brewery, and I loved it. Unique flavours that surprise you when drinking an unassuming looking beer. Fruity and malty taste.
I like Porters over Stout because it has a drier finish. Roasted Barley flavour without the harshness is what I look forward when drinking this beer. Great winter’s night drink. Rich roast malt flavour without being sweet or ashy.
Not a style I drink much of these days, but it is a nostalgic one for me. We made a Maize Malt, and I look forward to seeing more “Brazilian” like lagers (cerveja) in the market. An absolute favourite at the beach or after a long day harvesting barley at Gladfield Farm. Light malt taste and easy to drink.
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So there it is: Gabi Michael’s desert island mixed-six. I completely agree with her sentiments on Red Ale; Gabi herself penned some excellent advice to brewers who are trying to build a solid red ale, including directions on how to get the best out of their Shepherd’s Delight malt. More proof that Gabi and her Gladfield team are passionate about what they do, and are genuinely interested in serving their brewing community.
My sincere thanks to Gabi for sharing her mixed-six – and, most importantly, for her charismatic and relentlessly-positive attitude. People like Gabi, Tracy and Tammy normalise overachievement and star-reaching; and as a father of a young girl with big dreams, I’m profoundly grateful to all of them.
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