Cook Islands Brewery Wins Bronze Medal In New Zealand

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Maeva Ale created especially for 50th anniversary celebration

By Sarah Wilson

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Sept. 25, 2015) – A local brewery is standing tall against the big boys overseas, picking up a bronze medal at the New Zealand Beer Awards last weekend.

The medal winning strong ale, Maeva Ale, was made especially for the 50th anniversary celebrations by Matutu Brewery.

As well as getting the thumbs-up from the industry, Matutu has also been highly acclaimed by customers, receiving a Trip Advisor certificate of excellence for 2015.

James Puati from Matutu says a few of the beer judges told him that not everyone gets an award, so if they get picked for any medal, they know their processes are good and it’s right.

He says the award is a testament to all the work the team at Matutu has done to get to this stage.

"It’s taken a while, and the process can be difficult in the Cook Islands, without Government support."

The competition attracted 800 entries including some from the likes of Lion Nathan who produce big beer brands like Speight’s, Mac’s Craft Beers, Lion and Steinlager.

"Not only did we compete against Lion, we also competed against some of the top microbreweries in New Zealand, so we are really rapt," Puati says.

He adds that when they entered, they never expected to get any awards, and were mostly looking for constructive feedback from the industry.

The New Zealand beer awards have high profile judges and when they judge the beer, it’s great to hear their feedback.

Newnham says it was also great simply to attend the awards ceremony, just to see what is going on in the industry.

"Are certain styles becoming more popular, or are there certain directions the craft brewers are moving in? To be in that community and keep up with changes, is just invaluable."

Puati emphasises that the medal isn’t just a win for the brewery, but for the Cook Islands as a whole.

"This isn’t just a Matutu Beer, it’s a Cook Islands beer and therefore this isn’t just a Matutu achievement, but one for the whole nation."

However, he says they would love more local support for their beers, which are widely available on Rarotonga and Aitutaki.

Eric Newnham from Matutu says there seems to be a misconception that a local beer isn’t as good as an international branded beer.

"But now we have this medal which says, ‘hang on a minute, it is just as good as those big brands’."

Newnham says it is also great to have both the medal and the certificate from Trip Advisor.

He says the Trip Advisor certificate shows good feedback from customers, and the medal is good feedback from their peers in the industry.

"As a business, it’s no good just having a good beer but one that customers don’t like. So to have both of them, is even better."

When talking about their business, the team at Matutu also talked about the big role their beer can play in marketing for tourism.

"Flag, beer and airline - those are the three things a country is defined by. So the role of Matutu within tourism and within restaurants in the Cooks is huge."

The Maeva Ale is a limited release beer, and after winning the medal, they say they will definitely be keeping it available for longer.

It will also be available at Oktoberfest, which is the next big event for the brewery to look forward to.

CI News will have more information on the beer festival closer to the date.

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