Cal Popp was brewing in Portland, Oregon, USA for four years before leaving to travel Europe, forgetting about brewing or work for a while. Eventually, Popp found himself in New Zealand, “doddling around” fruit-picking and taking part in other “cool backpacker stuff” before finding his way to Rhyme x Reason (RxR) Brewery in Wanaka.
Starting at RxR, Popp was told the brewery’s philosophy is to make the most quality beers in the world. The brewery’s reach is relatively small in the grand scheme of NZ craft breweries and the team want to keep things as localised as possible. Having been at RxR for almost two years now, Popp did not try to reinvent what the brewery was doing.
“I just wanted to take knowledge I had learned from larger production breweries and apply those principles to our smaller-scale operation.”
In beer, Popp looks for approachability and finds simplicity important.
“When I'm quaffing a beer, whether it be a Haagen or a craftier beverage, I'm always looking for approachability. Something light but still satiating - a balance between malty and dry, and when appropriate, a firm smack in the mouth of deep, dank hoppiness.”
In most of RxR’s beers, he tries to showcase one or more of these aspects. The RxR palettes lie on the drier side of most Kiwi beers and the core beers tend to reflect that.
“Oftentimes I want a beer that I can drink five of.”
However, the team also enjoys the fun of experimental brews. For RxR’s one-off’s, they do whatever they find creative, innovative, or funny - like last year's Coffee-Infused Red IPA, and boss Jess’ brainchild Limoncello Hazy Kettle-Sour.
Rhyme x Reason is an ever-evolving project. In the last year, the brewery massively expanded its cold storage to keep their beer fresh, and in the brewery Popp has implemented yeast cell counts and high gravity brewing for increased yield. Helping to reduce the brewery’s carbon footprint is the switch from bottles to cans, as boss Simon finished the design on his first canning machine just last winter.
Popp was “pretty stoked” to lead the making of RxR’s first fresh-hop beers.
“Those beers are a sort of labour of love, and it’s quite an achievement getting to have that pint in your hand.”
He enjoys creating his own recipes, having a sunny-day hoon on the forklift, and drinking with bosses, on and off their boat!
“I’m incredibly grateful to get to work with a small team in such a creative atmosphere, with bosses who aren’t afraid to pour every resource they have into an idea we think might be cool.”
The Rhyme x Reason team hope to continue making the best beers they can, in modest amounts with new beers, new hops and “sick” new can artwork coming soon.