Meet the man behind the beer

As Beer Ambassador for Lion, Kurt Gross is involved in the creation of some incredibly exciting new brews, including the latest limited release from Mac's, a chocolate stout made in collaboration with the Wellington Chocolate Factory. 

Describe Mac’s Sweet Disposition

Mac’s Sweet Disposition is a stout beer brewed using a combination of pale malt, caramelised and roasted malts and chocolate malt.  In the brewing process we step it up by adding everything you get from a chocolate plant. Cocoa powder and 70% dark chocolate get added in the whirlpool, then we ferment it and after fermentation we add ground up nibs and husk from the cocoa so it has time to impart the dark chocolate characters as it is maturing.

Are many stouts made with chocolate?

It’s not uncommon – we trialed a lot of different beers leading up to this project – some are sweet and some aren’t. We went for a less sweet style using dark chocolate – it’s nicely balanced and not overly sweet.

What level of sweetness comes when using chocolate in the brewing process?

We chose to go with the less sweet version using dark chocolate.  We ask people to imagine the aftertaste of eating quality dark chocolate - it’s very similar to that.  If we used a milk chocolate, we would have achieved a more lactose type of sweetness.

Would this be considered a dessert beer?

It definitely plays very well with dessert, its chocolate characters compliment desserts and it has a good contrasting character with bitterness for balance.  A nice pairing is a chocolate gateau with berries!  It’s not purely defined by dessert though – we also recommend that it would go equally well with a rich dish, like a stew, using the beer as a braising liquid for optimum results.

Who do you think this stout will appeal to?

Anyone who wants to be a bit experimental in what they want to try – it will definitely appeal to dark beer drinkers.

Was it a difficult process?

Yes it was.  We were using some interesting techniques so we needed a bit of Kiwi ingenuity to make it work – it was not a case of lifting up the lid and pouring it in.  We needed more refinement and cleverness and a whole lot of manual labour to make it happen. For example, when we were mixing the cocoa and chocolate in hot liquor before adding it to the whirlpool, the mixer couldn’t break it up, so Mark and the team spent two hours doing it with a shovel!

With so many chocolate companies around why did you choose the Wellington Chocolate Factory?

We wanted to work with a regional company and Mac’s has always had a close association with Wellington.  The Wellington Chocolate Factory’s products taste really great, they’re nice people and they have a great story behind their brand.

If people respond favourably to it, will you extend its availability?

We always consider that.  The limited release programme is about getting people to try new things and if it works out we will always look to extend.

What was the collaborative process – did you actually meet each other and try each others’ products first?

We had initial meetings, which lead to trials of chocolate and beer– we worked closely together on all elements.

How long did the collaboration take from first meeting through to on shelf?

Pretty much 12 months from wo to go.

What’s the next colab for Mac’s?

We tend to have two years worth of projects on the go at any one time.  Mark Goldman our New Product Brewer is a wizard and is always playing with new ideas – so watch this space.


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