Due to various work-related circumstances, our honeymoon ended up being just over two months after our wedding. Mainstream New Zealand beer, Heineken and VB(!) were much in evidence in The Cook Islands, a sorry state of affairs in such a beautiful spot.
When we previously went to the Cooks there was a local beer but that brewery closed down a couple of years ago. Since then two fine gentlemen have started up the Matutu Brewery on Rarotonga, an independent microbrewery with two main beers to their credit so far.
Matutu Mai is a lager in a German style, light and refreshing. I only drank this a couple of times as I was far more interested in Matutu Kiva. A pale ale in the style of a British ale, it’s not bad at all. My first taste of both beers was in Kura’s Kitchen at Atiu Villas, the island of Atiu‘s biggest tourist accommodation (six villas) and our base for a fantastic five days.
Distribution is…spotty. Back on Rarotonga, I went into a few places in Averua one day to get some bottles only to be told that the truck hadn’t come so they didn’t have any. When would they be likely to get some? Dunno, maybe tomorrow, maybe not. I ended up tracking a six pack down in Muri at a small general store that let me have them for a very welcome NZ$2.50 (AU$2.00) each. At The Pacific Resort the night before one had cost me NZ$7.50…
On Atiu, Roger and Andrew at Atiu Villas had a decent supply at a decent price so all was well during our stay there. I was the only person on the island actually drinking them though. More on Atiu’s own beer in an upcoming post.
I’ve found out since I left that the Matutu boys are happy to give you a tour of their brewery, and that if you turn up at their place with a suitable receptacle they’ll fill it up for you with your choice of their beer, fresh as you can get. Yet another reason for me to return to the Cooks.
There are two further things I’d note about the beers. The bottles are filled to within millimetres of the bottle top, which is good value if a little dangerous when opening. Also, I did notice differences in quality between bottles depending on how long they’d been out of the brewery, and the two I bought back to Sydney with me were slightly flat. If they can get the consistency right, though, I think Eric and James will be onto a winner. Buying local and tasting nicer than Speights have to be two good reasons for supporting Matutu.