Moa is trialling a beer infused with deer velvet at boutique craft stores in China.
The deer for the Blenheim craft brewer first batch of its Red Stag Wheat Beer was shot on a hunting trip with the directors of one of Southern China’s largest beer distributors, M99, in the Waihopai Valley.
Deer velvet, which grows on the antlers of deer for about three months a year before turning into bone, is widely thought to have health benefits, especially in Chinese medicine.
The New Zealand College of Chinese Medicine said it could be used as a “liver detox”.
Deer Industry New Zealand market manager for Asia Rhys Griffiths said the product was most often used as an immunity and energy boost by students in Asia cramming for exams.
Moa general manager, Gareth Hughes said the idea of putting deer velvet in beer originated about a year ago when he was sitting down at one of M99’s six stores in Chengdu, China brainstorming how to better cater to the Chinese market.
“We don’t have the marketing budget of a lot of the multi-nationals, so we’ve got to do a lot of our talking via the beer,” Hughes said.
The company’s second container-load of the beer has hit store shelves this month.
Moa brewed its first batch of the Red Stag Wheat Beer in January, which Hughes said used red malts but has as strong a hop flavour as an imperial pale ale due to the addition of Nelson hops.
Moa brewers put the deer antlers into a giant sieve and place it in the kettle with sugar and malts to boil for an hour before yeast is added.
Brewer Paul Chambers said about 8 kilograms of deer velvet was added to the first batch.
Hughes said the flavour of raw velvet was hard to describe.
“It’s just kind of like a protein really.”
M99 sold the entire first batch of the deer velvet beer in 48 hours after advertising it on Chinese version of Facebook, WeChat, Hughes said.
Moa chief executive Geoff Ross said China was “a crucial growth prospect for Moa’s products”.
“We’re particularly excited to take to market the first beer developed specifically for Chinese tastes, while driving our vision of being ‘New Zealand’s craft beer’ on the international stage.”
Ross estimates the annual value of Kiwi beer and cider exports at between $NZ2 million to $NZ3 million.
New Zealand’s deer velvet exports are also growing.
Griffiths said in the year to April deer velvet exports were $NZ69 million, up from $NZ54 million the previous year.
“That’s generally thanks to the use of velvet in sophisticated food products, particularly in Korea,” he said.
In the last year New Zealand sold an estimated 700 tonnes of deer velvet with prices typically around $NZ127.50 to $NZ130 a kilogram.
Hughes said the beer was also receiving a “fair bit of interest” from South Korean importers.
Hughes did not rule it out selling the beer in New Zealand in future.
This article was originally published on Stuff.co.nz. Read the original here.
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