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Special Brew For PM

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

12 AUGUST 2009 - Student brewer Michael Farrugia has cooked up a tasty drop to celebrate Prime Minister John Key's visit tomorrow for the Food Innovation New Zealand launch.

The fourth-year Food Technology student has been working on a dunkelweisen beer at the microbrewery in the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health.

"It's a dark wheat beer, which is made from a Bavarian yeast that gives the beer its unique flavours," Mr Farrugia says. "It has characteristics of banana and cloves. I also used a dark, heavily roasted barley and chocolate wheat that should give the beer chocolate and caramel undertones."

Mr Key will tour the microbrewery prior to the launch. FINZ is a collaboration between Massey University, AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, Fonterra, the Bio Commerce Centre and the Riddet Institute with the support of Palmerston North City Council and the Manawatu District Council. It is aimed at increasing New Zealand's capacity in agri-food innovation and enabling the industry to better perform in domestic and international markets.

The brewing process takes more than a week with the barley heated and filtered to produce a sweet wort. It is then mixed with the hops and yeast before being fermented for about seven days. The final step is to clarify and carbonate the beer.

Mr Farrugia brings some pedigree to the role of student brewer. "My aunt, Helen Masters, is the head winemaker at Ata Rangi winery in Martinborough and I worked there with her for a vintage. She was my inspiration for doing food tech and getting involved in the brewery."

He was also a flatmate of the University's first student brewer, Thomas Sowersby. "I helped him out with a couple of brews last year and learned a lot from him."

Institute head Professor Richard Archer says the brewery provides a teaching facility for students of process engineering and brewing and beverage technology. It is also a research facility for students and industry and a social environment where interaction among students and staff contributes to campus life.

"While brewing in itself is an ancient art - and a social glue for many - it is also a science enabling the maltster and brewer to achieve a consistent product regardless of longitude or latitude and regardless of the variability in the biological raw materials," Professor Archer says.

"Brewing is also engineering. Our brewery is sited in the process-engineering laboratory for a purpose. Students usually learn about pumps, piping systems, heat exchange, refrigeration, mixing, filtration and process control on separate laboratory rigs. This brewery brings all these things into one understandable, operational process plant."

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