Friday, January 3, 2014

Beer and chocolate?

I liked the New Zealand city of Dunedin simply because I could enjoy two amazing and chocolate, to clarify, not chocolate beer (although that is delicious as well). The coastal city of Dunedin is home to the Cadbury World Chocolate Factory and the Speight's Brewery; the city was calling my name. 

We stopped first at the Cadbury World and got prepared to enter the Willy Wonka like place. Hair nets, no jewelry, no phones, no cameras…which is probably for the best because I don’t want to get somebody’s earring inside my Cadbury egg. Gross. We walked through and learned about the ingredients and the benefits of having arguably some of the best dairy in the world for their chocolates. We were shown the very detailed process of making bricks of baking chocolate, the cement mixers used to coat chocolate balls in different colors, and the making of the miniature candies. It was a modern day Willy Wonka, all the way down to our guide whose outfit reminded me of a purple oompa loompa. 

We were blown away by the stats of chocolate consumption our guide provided. New Zealanders eat an average of 5 kilos of chocolate per person per year, Americans are at 6, and English were at a whopping 10 kilos of chocolate per person per year! One of the coolest parts was when we entered one of the old silos, that was originally used to store milk, and saw an enormous chocolate fountain. This chocolate fountain poured a 4-foot-wide stream of liquid chocolate as a waterfall down the middle of the silo. Yummmmmy. 

Chocolate galore: Chocolate and chocolate soda 
Walk through town to the other side and you've reached the brewery, this was the best city planning ever!

This building was founded in 1876 and was currently under a major reconstruction project that was aimed to increase their production by 200%, I guess Kiwis are thirsty! So we were fortunate enough to see the older brewing sets as well as the new state-of-the-art brewing facilities, an interesting dichotomy that reminds me that beer will never go out of fashion.

The beautiful copper original brewing set

The brewery also has a museum attached to it because it has a large cultural significance for the southern island of New Zealand; known as “The Pride of the South.” A very interesting point of transition for the Speight’s beer business was the Christchurch earthquake. Kiwis drink so much that Speight’s was able to set up underground tanks throughout all of New Zealand so that liquid carrying semi-trucks would come once a week and fill up the tanks underground that had a direct line to the taps upstairs in the bar. No kegs, streamlined process. Well the 2011 earthquakes destroyed that concept when building everywhere collapsed and tanks and bar were ruined or shut down; now as part of the transition period, they changed this tank system that they’d used since the 90s and are returning to the keg (or hogshead) process. The ripple effects of their natural disasters became more and more evident as I traveled New Zealand.

Like a boss, sweet as! 

Well after the tour it was open bar and all you can drink for 30 minutes. We got to try so many different types of beer; IPA, pale ale, cider, porter, and much more. They had on tap Speight’s Gold Medal Ale (the ale that won at a world competition in Australia and put Speight’s on the map), Golden Pale Ale, Old Dark (an English Porter with hints of chocolate), Distinction Ale (an unique and delicious dark ale), Triple Hop Pilsner, Porter, and Speight’s Cider. Yummmmmy. 

As if we couldn't get enough on tour....filling up the water carrier
Kiwis and visitors alike eat lots of chocolate and drink lots of beer: reason no. 54,286 to go to New Zealand. 

One last piece of food for thought.... Happy New Year !