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Moutere Inn – Published Nelson Mail 05.01.16

Located in the village of Upper Moutere the Moutere Inn is recognised as New Zealand’s oldest pub in its original building and it still provides both the local community and visitors with huge helpings of hospitality based on smiling faces, craft beers and generously proportioned, quality food.

The village of Upper Moutere was settled in the early 1840s by German immigrants who brought both hop plants and grape vines with them and established some of the very first wineries in New Zealand in the area. Of course they also planted the hops and the Nelson region is still the only place in New Zealand hops are produced and it just makes sense that beer should be produced here too.

The original Moutere Inn was built by Cordt Bensemann in 1850 and living quarters for the Bensemann family followed soon after. By 1857 the structure that is still clearly recognizable as The Moutere Inn was in place.

I must admit to having a few beers and the occasional meal at this pub over the years and have had business dealings with a number of the previous owners so I always feel comfortable when I walk in the door. For many years it was owned and operated by Bill Small (his brother Merv owned the now closed Traveller’s Rest in Appleby) and he made sure the Inn was a centre of social activity in the area. Bill was one of those old school publicans, have fun but behave yourself or he and the locals would make it clear you weren’t welcome.

In 2008 the Moutere Inn was bought by a group of beer enthusiast who wanted to have a venue where they could showcase the best craft beers and real ales they could get their hands on.

Today the Moutere Inn is owned and operated by Dave Watson and Andrew Cole who have returned the pub to its traditional roots as an important part of a small community where the locals feel comfortable and visitors can enjoy great beer, wine, food and good company says Andrew, “our small nod to a traditional pub is the pool table but our real focus is on being a responsible part of the local community.”

“We want to have a great pub people want to come to, not a formal restaurant or just a pubic bar. We have been trying to go in the general direction of a gastro pub but with a community pub feel. We built the outdoor garden bar in 2010 so customers can enjoy dining outside in the great summer evenings we have.”

Quality, honest, flavoursome food is really important for any hospitality venue and at the Moutere Inn they provide just that; the burgers are made with a hand-made sour dough bun sourced from a Nelson bakery and they use the freshest possible local products as much as they can.

Andrew and Dave are particularly proud of the range of local beers and wines they have on their beverage list; when it comes to beer the selection of tap beers is excellent and you will find wines in their list you will struggle to find anywhere else. In fact they put so much effort into the quality of the beverages they serve the Moutere Inn won the award for the Best Beverage List at the 2012 Nelson Hospitality Awards and were a finalist in the 2014 awards.

Being proper beer people they love real ales; these are beers that come straight from the Firkin and still have yeast working away, fermenting and creating natural bubbles rather than being re-carbonated after they have stopped fermenting. “If you store and serve them properly they are wonderful beers with nice bright flavours and a creamy texture, we usually have two of these on tap all the time alongside about 10 craft beers (many of which are locally made). The vast majority of beers we stock are tap craft beers and we change the range regularly so there is always something interesting to try, we only have very few in bottles”

When it comes to wine “we support the small guys by making sure we have as many wines as we can from them on our list and serve many by the glass. We currently have around 20 local wines and we only have local wines.” says Andrew.

The Moutere Inn isn’t somewhere to go to get rolling drunk, “while we want people to have a great time we really want people who enjoy the conviviality of a traditional pub and who want to try beautiful beers. I’m not saying we are the fun police but when the language starts getting a bit rough we encourage the person to head for home, we want to encourage moderate consumption of quality beer and wine not heavy drinking. We are hot on drink driving, we simply don’t tolerate it. We have lower alcohol beers and discounted soft drinks for drivers so there is no need to drink and drive.”

The Moutere Inn is a great country pub that not only serves outstanding beer and wine but also serves as a hospitality hub in the small village. Get a group together, pick a sober driver and give it a go this summer, you might just be surprised how good it is.

I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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