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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Getting Slapped in the Face with a Hoppy Rag at Deep Creek Brewing Co in Auckland, NZ

Hoppy Beers

If you say "hoppy beer" to anyone that doesn't know beer, they think of bitter beer.

Bitterness is a typical characteristic of some European style beers. The lighter beers of the Pilsner and Lager styles thrive on a bit of bitterness to quench your thirst. Some readily available mainstream commercial beers which used Pilsners and Lagers as their foundation for their taste profiles perpetuated this play on bitterness. We think it is to the detriment of the beverage's reputation. Beer should be better.


In the early days of craft brewing, the brewers also managed to get bitterness wrong (some still do). You often end up with tonsil-throttling gill-destroying bitterness in an American or Indian Pale Ale, with a healthy dose of excuses claiming that if you cannot stand the heat (bitterness) in the kitchen (craft brewery's beer), then you better get out (drink some Bud, bud). Bitter is cruft!

No, it is not! Hops have many roles to play in beer. It imparts bitterness. It has a preservation effect to keep beer yeasts happy. Most importantly, Hops is about flavour. Flavour is all about profile and balance.

What people are discovering, with more beer choices on the market, is that bitterness is only one part, although an important, part that hops play in the flavour profile of a style. We believe there is a much bigger part, which most beer drinkers don't really know about, understand or appreciate. It is the ability of Hops to impart unique flavours to beer.

If hops flavouring is where the rubber hits the road for a good beer, it is also where the wheels come off. For all the angelic flavouring qualities the immaculately expensive hops from all the corners of the world bestow on our favourite beverage, they have one unfortunately quality. They are masters at escaping. As soon as you get them into beer, they have this one unfortunate peculiarity. They pull a vanishing act.

It has driven many a brewer to drink trying to solve this simple dilemma. They can pull off a juicy, citrussy cloudy ale with perfection, only to discover their creation became just another flat clear pale ale three weeks later. If you know what they know, and we know, you will drink the beer when it is fresh and ready. Choose your timing wisely. A week later and it is no longer be the master creation it was intended to be because the Hops flavours departed.

What if you can make the perfect beer and still have it perfect for weeks and months later with the same breathtakingly beautiful aromas and flavours, as the day it came cold crashed from the fermenter?

You can now. The world of beer is about to change forever. Steamed distilled Hops Oil makes it possible. It is popping up everywhere - even in New Zealand, and it is making the beer better. We've had our own disasters brewing with it. However, with a little practice, refinement and restraint we have discovered a whole new world of taste in beer - the way it was meant to be.

For more about Hops Oil, have a look at this entry in our Blog about Glacier Hops Ranch and their HopzOil Product.


On our recent whirlwind tour of New Zealand, we crashed into Scott Taylor of Deep Creek Brewing Co., at the Dunedin Craft Beerfest. We did a double take when he mentioned that they have a beer, a very popular one, that they made with Hops oil.

Now, there is Hops oil and then there is Hops oil. We were skeptical. But, he had our attention when he mentioned that it was steam distilled oil from fresh New Zealand hops. Apparently, they bet the Hops farm, bought a whole bunch of fresh hops from a farmer in the South Island and got a lavender oil distillery in Christchurch to distill them some oil. Next thing is, they are selling out on Hops Oil beer!

We thought that that North American craft brewers were the pioneers. In typical Kiwi fashion, they knocked something up in the barn and before you know it, the Kiwis are not just keeping up with the Jones', they are leading the charge!

Meet Paul, Scott and Jarred.  They’re the original guys behind Deep Creek Brewing Co, the craft beer brewery from Auckland, New Zealand. Deep Creek was born from a long-term friendship and a burning desire to produce flavour fuelled handcrafted beer and bring it to the kiwi masses (and people as far as Norway) to enjoy.

We loved their beer and their innovation. They have a pretty good restaurant and bar in Howick too. We will be back with more from Deep Creek. In the meantime, enjoy the video and let them know the Two Cowboys sent you!

Hoppy Beer Cowboy

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Napkin for the Juice

Go for Brew and Eats

Flavour Palace

Juicy, Juicy!!

Good Fair!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Getting Our Beards Oiled with Manuka Essentials Beard Oil in Tauranga, New Zealand

Mānuka and Kānuka

Some Kiwi's are discovering that they've been sitting on a pot of gold all along, and they didn't even need honey for it. Mānuka honey is widely known for its great taste and powerful healing properties. However, few people have heard about mānuka oil, kānuka oil, mānuka tea and the range of other goods that are made from these ingredients.

They have extraordinary healing abilities. Truly remarkable! They grow everywhere in New Zealand. You can find them literally on the side of the road. The oil makes beards look, feel and smell good too.


On our recent trip to New Zealand, Callum Armstrong got us interested in the small online business he recently launched literally on the side of the road in Tauranga. As an entrepreneur, he is passionate about his Manuka and Kanuka, and he is finding ways to build support for the product that can be made from it. In his opinion, Manuka and Kanuka oil are poised to take the world by storm! He calls his online business Manuka Essentials.

He is so passionate about it that he created a reference that makes it easy to learn about what makes this shrub so unique. For many centuries, native Māori used mānuka and kānuka for a wide range of purposes. Modern science is now finally catching up, and we will be better off as a result.

Manuka Essentials aim to source as much inventory from local producers in rural and remote parts of New Zealand as possible. It provides local producers with an incentive to invest in the growth of the native bushes and offer them another way to bring innovative goods to market that can be sold online and shipped all over the world.

Cultivating More Mānuka and Kānuka

Thanks to the booming mānuka honey industry, landowners throughout NZ are now replanting mānuka where it had to make way for agriculture like dairy farming. In the long run, we hope with Callum, that his effort will have a profound impact on the health of New Zealand's land, the quality of its soils and the cleanliness of its air and waterways. For a start, it will bring some of the fantastic bird life back!

Imagine if more of New Zealand was returned to native bush, and people could earn a decent income for doing so - wouldn't that be awesome? Callum is doing his part to spread the word. For his and his collaborators' effort, we now have Mānuka beard oil, tea and other skin care. He assured us that more products are in development.


Three things stood out about our visit with Callum and Manuka Essentials.

Firstly, there is the power the Internet puts in the hands of a local entrepreneur like Callum to launch a business about something he feels strongly about. Manuka Essentials is a small online business today in New Zealand, but it has the power to reach the world.

Secondly, it has the potential to rally people around a cause, more Mānuka and Kānuka native bush restoration, and to launch the development of products by local producers as a result. It can make the world a better and healthier place for everyone.

Thirdly, we love the beard oil that Callum gave us. We promised to spread the word and will soon be distributing this under the Two Cowboys brand in North America. Our beards love us for it. Our skin appreciates it and every time we smell it, it takes us home to our second home amongst friends in the land of the long white cloud - Aotearoa!

Keep up the good work Callum and grow some more bushes. We will follow your story in great anticipation and appreciate the chance to show you to the world

Mānuka Cowboy

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" You Getting the Shot, Cowboy?"

The Gods of Manuka

Smell It!

Make It!

Ship It!

Friday, December 28, 2018

How to Really Get Mugged in Mexico!

Not The Way You Think

You've seen the headlines, and you've heard the warnings. Mexico isn't safe! Don't venture outside the resort. People will trick you, skim your credit card, empty your bank account and shake you down.  It is easy to get mugged in Mexico, and some even end up dead. Stay in the resort people say - they will look after you.

We haven't experienced much of the above during our travels so far to this fantastic country. The truth is, we cannot get enough of Mexico, and we are looking for reasons to spend more and more time there. It is one of our favourite destinations. 

Mexico has only served us with pleasant surprises. We love their food, rich culture, natural beauty, and friendly people. We've discovered that the real gems are outside the resorts in popular tourist destinations of Cancun, Los Cabos, Mazatlan, Porto Vallarta and others. If you go where people can only speak Spanish, you've arrived at authentic Mexico. That's where you want to be. Then the real adventure begins.

Our most recent and unpleasant experience in Los Cabos confirmed this again for us.

Leave the resort!

If you want to be tricked, have your credit card skimmed and your bank account emptied, all you have to do is accept a "Gift Certificate" from a prestigious Mexican holiday resort, and make the trip as an unsuspecting tourist. They will "take care of you".

We stepped right into this one. Instead of the horror crime stories you read in the news, we discovered that the typical Mexican holiday resort has a much more subtle and civil approach to shaking you down. Here's what happened to us at The Grand Mayan at Vidanta Los Cabos.

Our timeshare company dished out the annual "gift certificates," and we were the lucky recipients of two this year. For around US$300/week and change, plus a nominal daily resort fee, and an exchange fee, we get a week in the off-season with an available holiday resort of our choice. A good deal isn't it? Yes and no. It all adds up once your annual levies and fees come into play and your cost of funds for buying the timeshare in the first place is added in. But, that is a sad story for another time.

Shaken Down

This is how we booked two weeks at The Grand Mayan at Vidanta Los Cabos in early December of this year. We couldn't wait for the welcome break and landed on a sunny winters day after a reasonably pleasant flight with Westjet in San Jose del Cabo.

While we checked in at the resort, we made the disturbing discovery that what is usually a nominal daily resort fee (generally around $15/day) turned into US$60/day per person expense (US$120/day for my wife and I, which translated roughly into CAD$165/day or CAD$1,155 for a week). Luckily we've sent the other Cowboy home to South Africa for Christmas and left the kids at home, or this would really have turned into an even more expensive holiday since the fee is a per-person fee.

However, all is not lost we were assured by the reception that it is not as bad as it sounds. We have the opportunity to get 75% of our resort fee "back" if we spend the money at the resort's spa, restaurant and shops. Oh yes, and then there is the small matter of going to a complimentary breakfast and a short presentation as well. It will not take more than 2 hours of our valuable vacation time we were assured. Yeah, right! We know about these things.

Heck, the prospect of getting back some of the exorbitant resort fee, which we are now paying in a fast sinking CAD$ made me jump at the chance to attend a short presentation and get some of my money back. After five years of dodging the despised breakfast and presentations in these resorts, I was finally outwitted into one. I was a sitting duck.

As you know, the presentation was not just for two hours. It was an almost three-hour highly unpleasant battering to shake us down for a "Vidanta Holiday Club" membership. During this time the price came down from USD$120,000 to below USD$10,000 for a week, and an on-the-spot nominal deposit of USD$900 for something I still cannot comprehend and don't care to understand. We were not in the market for it. We made it clear every step of the way.

What I do know was that when the fourth and final "handler" couldn't get me to agree to the purchase, she finally threw our "client assessment forms" at us across the table while telling us to take our documents to reception and check out. I was ready for war, and my wife had a micro melt-down. She oscillated between disgust for the way in which we were treated, scolded me for losing my temper, and fearing that our holiday just came to an end. All that remained was for someone to escort us off the premises.

No one came. Instead, we dutifully handed over the extorted loot of a resort fee every day on Tacos and breakfasts at the resort's overly priced restaurants. We paid five times the going rate. Drinks at the pool bar made our eyes water when we saw the bill. Let's just say the price of a couple of beers can buy you a case at the local grocery store. You can purchase a small coconut plantation for the fee of a single pina colada.

We changed our flights. We shoved the second week up Vidanta's arse to return prematurely to a snowy Canada, while vowing never to set foot at their facilities again. More importantly, to never fall again for this cleverly disguised and very civil scheme of extortion and skimming. It cannot be good for business and definitely not for the people of Mexico!

From this day onwards we will only spend our Pesos with a local property owner, buy our tacos and beer like locals and invest in Mexico - the real Mexico. Viva la Mexico and Vidanta be damned!

Taco Cowboy

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Local Beer

Local Taqueria

"Traditional" Resort

Dead Cow