Sunday, December 29, 2013

Green Flash - Green Bullet

Who can be sad about beer for christmas, unless you get sick and don't even feel like a beer till 4 days after christmas. I've been plenty sad about all the beer I can't drink. Plenty sad.
Today I feel well enough to crave an afternoon beer and thankfully my clever husband picked up on all my subtle hints and bought me a delicious selection of beers from The Beer Cellar for my christmas treat. However my decision to start with a small bottle may have slightly backfired as the Green Bullet is 10.1% alcohol, but it wears it well, great colour with an innocently white foamy head.
Aroma is skunky, but not in the common use of the word regarding beer. It reminds me of things I was fortunate/unfortunate enough to smell in my youth. A similar weed of the same family whose aroma sometimes presents itself in certain beers. So its got a dank, vegetative smell. Heady and earthy.
Taste is grassy, spicy, slightly floral and sweet. Its heavy and hard going. One must sip the beasty slowly least one angers it, this beer require respectful drinking by my short self. Full malt body holds it own against the bitter hops, half way through the glass and with more warmth the pine flavours start to wade through the heavy malts and alcohol and hints of caramalised pineapple add to the experience.
Even with some alluring flavours this beer is taking me forever to drink. Its just a little too much of everything. A fitting brew for the season where over indulgence seems to be the order of the day.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Croucher - Patriot, American Black Ale.

In the fading light of a Monday evening a cool bottle of Croucher Patriot waits, while I clean the kitchen, a beer waits. While I make an urgent phone call while my husband cleans the kitchen, a beer waits.

Well wait no more Patriot, I've been eyeing you up for days now and its time to imbibe! Really sturdy dark red/brown colour, slightly tan head that persists and leaves lovely lacing and adding a perception of creaminess to the beer. 

I think I was expecting this to be super hoppy, American themes in labelling is usually a dead giveaway. Hop aroma is mild, a little citrus with some earthy pine aroma's. Some great malty notes coming forward too. Sweet, subtle hints of shortbread and toasted grain.

So what is this? I honestly don't know. There's great piney bitterness on the finish with hints of bittersweet chocolate and coffee. There's orangey grapefruit with biscuity malty goodness. There's a delightful zing on the tongue and an irresistible urge to drink more and more. Is this the wonder that is black IPA? Its confusingly delicious and there's a nice hoppy buzz to be had from not sharing the bottle. At only 5.5% its easy to enjoy by yourself on a warms summers eve.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Kegerator Drip Tray Bargain

My kegerator in the garage has been making a bit of a mess, there's two stains on the concrete right under the taps from wayward beer. It's enough to make my husband give me that look, y'know the one.  Where they look at you sideways and grumble "suselorrrrre.........". So I've been looking for a drip tray but the options online were well over $100 and I'm on a budget. Lab technician salary plus Auckland mortgage doesn't equal the financial wonderland I thought it would. 

So I couldn't believe my luck when I found this while out shopping for a hacksaw. A magnetic tool tray   at Wairau Bunnings for $14. Thats right $14. Its got super strong magnets and a rubber back so you don't scratch your fridge. Easy  enough to reposition but strong, it wont be knocked off without some serious effort. It's 31cm wide and just in case you want one too I found it near the socket sets in the power tool area. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bairds Brewing - Single Take Session Ale

Monday afternoon, its hot, the weekend was too short and I've got 101 things to do but I've always got time for a beer. Which is why I've still got 101 things to do. Anyway today I'm sampling a beer from Japan by Baird brewing. It's bottle conditioned and long travelled so hopefully stored well in transit and not suffering too much.

Pouring cloudy amber orange with a persistent thin white head, it looks absolutely mouth watering. Aroma is complex but not punchy. There's grassy hops, citrus and sweetness on the nose with hints of yeast. 

First mouthful is refreshing, nice grassy bitterness and hints of spice. The belgian yeast really hits the back of the palete but isn't dominating. It seems a nice balance of pale ale and belgian ale with a little effervescence to bubble it all together. Really lovely but not best served ice cold let it warm up a little before pouring. It improves with every mouthful, delicious with some moderately spicy dishes.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Paderborner - Pilsner

Original German Beer! 

So as it says on the can its original german beer, which is good to know I guess. I wouldn't want to be drinking a non-original beer, I think that violates some rule of the craft beer enthusiast code book. 
However I get a bit suspicious when the ingredients include hop extract. 

Currently I'm more attuned to the NZ styles of pilsner with the gorgeous floral hop aromas and bitterness levels that really satisfy. Having recently finished a box of Tuatara Pilsner I'm not sure how this brew is going to compare.

There's hints of a herbal hop aroma, and a bunch of malt bouncing out of the glass. I get a lager vibe more than anything. Its not extremely malt forward on drinking though, the bitterness is there as soon as it hits your tongue. A really nice amount of carbonation makes it great for drinking after a 90 minute hike through the bush, but its not crisp enough to be the ultimate post exertion refreshment. A strange little aftertaste, but not really off putting. Kinda doughy on the finish and barely enough hop extract to keep it drinkable.  

Friday, November 08, 2013

Renaissance Enlightenment - The Age of Raisin

Here's a smart little offering from Enlightenment Brewing. The age of Raisin. 

It certainly smells like raisins, and a bit like walking through the back rooms on a winery tour when the guide decides to go off plan.The malt aroma's are lovely. I guess I'm used to malt aroma's hiding shyly behind the hop aroma but in this beer I get a fresh cake smell, a golden syrup sultana cake thats maybe gone a little crispy round the edges. Great deep colour, loads of red in there which is occasionally highlighted in the dismal spring light of this rainy day.

Little to no head and sparse carbonation but upon drinking its more lively in the mouth than in the glass.   First impressions are definitely raisins, but with a balancing acidity. I'm actually reminded of Fuller's ESB. Just that hint of winey raisins. But this beer has a little more acidity and it finishes smooth on delicious  biscuity malts with a very slight, oh so slight, hint of butter. Its like drinking toasted sultana bread. Hints of caramel and toffee sugar delight me. I really like the mouth feel of this beer. It starts zingy and finishes nice and round. The belgian yeast adds a little spice, which just makes itself known on the finish merging with the heat of the alcohol.

Once again an excellent beer that I can imagine pairing with food, a creme brûlée with its caramelised sugar would be excellent here, or I think it has enough flavour to hold up to a sweet gamey meat dish like duck or even venison.

6.5% 500ml bottle.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Brewers Collaboration Series. Townshend's and Liberty Brewing Co - Chatham's Rise

I love collaborations, whether they are fraught with tension and infighting for creative control or are a gentle melding of minds that lets idea bloom in a nurturing environment. I think its always a good idea to test your boundaries from time to time with a good ol' collaboration, like when I let my husband cook with me, its a testing time indeed.

Domestic tensions aside let us return to considering this beer collaboration. Chatham's rise is a freshly hopped ale with Chinook and Cascade. At 5.6% alcohol and 2.2 standard drinks it looks like it could be a nice pre dinner warmer. I'm not overwhelmed by aroma here. The beer is a little cold (my fault) and very flat. I may have fallen victim to buying old beer again. Where's a Best Before date when you need one!? Still I can appreciate the gorgeous colour it's a lovely intense orangey red that really catches the light.

Good looks aside though the beer is delicious. The gradual loss of carbonation hasn't hurt and there's plenty of interest even without effervescence. A very smooth malt base carries the hops, it starts off a little sweet and syrupy but instantly opens out into biscuity toffee goodness with fresh hop zing dancing along the top. The finish is moderately bitter with hints of that good piney freshness. Maybe a hint of herbaceousness from the fresh hops but it works very well with the overall composition of the beer. It just gets better and better as it warms up and is an easy brew to drink while waiting for dinner. A lovely hoppy ale.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Spruce Beer - Wigram Brewing Co

Classic label and classic bottle, this brew caught my eye about a month ago and its been shamefully sitting in my fridge for too long. Spruce beer sounds intriguing doesn't it. I know spruce is variety of conifer but I just learned fresh young spruce tips are a good source of vitamin. Captain Cook knew what he was on about when he had this brewed this up for the crew.

This beer seems to be spruceless, but it does have rimu and tea tree. I wonder how the local flora compares for Vitamin C content? Spruce beer pours a slightly hazy darkish amber. No head to really speak of and light carbonation. The aroma  is of spiced honey and homemade ginger beer. To be fair the expiry date on this bottle is 30th October 2013 so I'm only getting to appreciate it in the golden years of its lifespan.

The flavour is malty and spicy, peppercorn flavours waft up the back of my throat. Its a gentle spiciness that also has ginger flavours mingling with the malts. It has a nice clean finish which suits me well otherwise I think I'd find the ginger flavour a bit too much after a while. This beer tastes old fashioned, but in a good way. Its not like any other beer I've tried. Who knew trees made good beer? However I can't imagine Captain Cooks brew tasted as good as this. Probably took a bit of skill from Wigram to get everything just balanced right. I wonder if this is the last batch I'll see or if Wigram will brew it again? I'd certainly like to taste a fresher bottle!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bach Brewing - Hopsmacker

The last couple of weeks have had their ups and downs. On the plus side I got my kegerator up and running. On the downside I got all four wisdom teeth out and my taste buds were decimated by the 14 days of prescription mouthwash. So its been a while since I've had the chance to enjoy a beer.

What a pleasure it is to start drinking beer again. There is nothing else that can substitute those hoppy malty flavours. The complex combination of bitter hops and sweet malt with effervescent carbonation is the most satisfying beverage to end my day with. Its why I brew, because when it comes to beer flavour is everything.

My return to beer starts with Bach Brewing's Hopsmacker. The label screams kiwi summers and I have no doubt it with be a holiday favourite.

It pours nice and clear golden yellow with a thin white head (but then I'm a very careful pourer). The aroma is tropical fruit and citrus zest with resinous pine notes. Certainly gets mouth watering. On drinking the peppery and bitter grapefruit flavours of the hops certainly hit the spot. It borders on dry with very little cloying sweet malts. Its a nice sipper and thirst quenching although the hops get a little grassy after while.  At 5.8% its a little kinder on the liver than other hoppy offerings and a nice reintroduction to alcohol after surgery.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Golden Eagle - South Island Pale Ale

Golden Eagle is relatively new brewery having been around since 2010. I've had the pleasure of sampling their Coal Face Stout which is an excellent brew especially for such a young brewery. I also thought the Solo Lupulus was pretty outstanding too.

So with great anticipation I pop the cap. A nice little burst of cascade type aroma hops out of the bottle, well I think its New Zealand cascade, the bottle claims five varieties of Nelson hops but fails to specify any. The aroma is a little grassy and herbaceous.

The colour is gorgeous, and amazing burnt orange that made me go "Ooooooo" as I poured it. A lovely little white head completes the picture. Carbonation starts with a little enthusiasm but settles down to moderate in no time. 

Drinking is easy, its sweet with burnt sugar and toffee notes, a lightness and smoothness to the texture of beer helps it slide down. Theres hints of spice with a punch of hops on the finish. The hops are tangy and citrusy with lemon and mandarin flavours. Nothing too extreme either way and at 5.5% makes for a nice spring evenings drinking. Certainly a excellent addition to the Golden Eagle repertoire.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mikes - Heavy Petal

Contrary to popular opinion around the office there are actually things I like, and this is one of them.

Firstly I like colour, its a dark orangey red with a creamy off white head. It looks like heaven in a glass and it smells like water passed from the lord himself. Roses and hops. Sweet malt. Turkish delight, caramel!

Theres a pleasant hoppy floral bitterness, a bit of citrus zest and rosewater. Its got a lingering bitter finish, probably from whatever rose flavouring used. (Home made or otherwise, plants be bitter y'all). The malts a soothing and sweet with a smooth mouthfeel.

Sure its a gimmick brew, and maybe you won't sit down and order pint after pint.Not every brew has to be a drink all night amazing, some are just special once every now and then. I get the feeling I could really enjoy this with some raspberry cheese cake.

(Also I've been trying to work out a recipe turkish delight chocolate stout in my head for weeks, Mike's, please, steal my idea!)

Invercargill Brewery - Smokin' Bishop

Its a good colour, crystal clear and catching the light with a deep amber brown hue. It makes an elegant first impression with its delicate little tan head. Aroma wise I'm a getting a smoke with ethanol and hints of charcoal embers in a dying fire.

The first sip is smokey with a sweet impression and a little fruitiness. After a few sips all I can think of is wood smoke, smoked pork and barbecues. It slides around on the tongue and has a slightly oily mouthfeel with low carbonation. I start to get hints of burnt caramel sugars and flavours reminiscent of Belgian beers. Cigars spring to mind as a few tobacco notes hit the palate. Suddenly I find myself sitting in a leather chair by a dying fire sipping a peaty whisky, a cigar rests in the silver ashtray next to me and thin wisps of cigar smoke are winding their way towards the ceiling. This beer is highly evocative.

Complements to Invercargill breweries as the smoke level is just right, not too intense. It adds to the impressive complexity of this beer and seems to brings all the other flavours together.

I can imagine pouring this all over a pork shoulder before whacking it in a slow cooker or accompanying a tasting plate of nutty cheeses and quince paste.

Final thought: If Indiana Jones's hat was a beer it would be the Smokin' Bishop. Roguish and intelligent all in the same package.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Boundary Road - Jack the Sipper

Its still winter, while Auckland's been blessed with a few non-raining weekends I have been blessed with working Sundays. Today's post work beer is a hasty grab from the supermarket. A Boundary Road offering. While I haven't been blown away by any of their beers yet I remain hopeful.

I flip the cap and am greeted with a thin little aroma, hints of hops and dark caramelised sugar and maybe a smidge of roasted malt, I breathe and its gone. Minimal carbonation and very thin almost non existent head. It looks dark but when you hold it up to the light its got a lot of lovely red.

The first sip is fairly refreshing, after all I've been at work all day, by myself, bent over a bunsen burner, inhaling paraffin fumes, cutting my thumb on the device that has no name but is kinda like a hot plate crossed with a serrated knife and listening Hauraki so maybe at this point anything will do. I pause and try reflect over the flavours instead of downing the bottle in one go try to wash the pain of work away.

Concentrating over the second glass I get all sorts of strange flavours, It really reminds me of a golden syrup sultana cake my granny used to make. Frutiness from the yeast maybe, sweet malt and a bit of diacetyl giving me a buttery cake flavour? Top notes are a little lacking, theres a nice but brief  roastiness on the finish and a slight burnt sugar note but its fleeting and replaced by some cloying syrupy malts.

Overall its inoffensive, easily washed down and easily forgotten.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Renaissance - Craftsman

I've been trying to wrap my head around New Zealand stouts. Some of them have been amazing and some of them have been real clangers. I even had my first ever un-finishable bottle of beer. I wept as I thought of the money I'd wasted on the grossest beer of my life.

But onward to better things! I can't possibly go wrong with a Renaissance beer after all it was voted champion international small brewery at the Australian beer awards. 

The Craftsman is a chocolate oatmeal stout, now the oats don't add a "porridge" flavour to beer however they break down to give the beer body and a smooth feel on the palate. As for the chocolate according to the label there's cocoa nibs a plenty used at different stages of the brewing process. All those nibs must be working because the aroma is divine. Its a milk chocolate, soft to begin but developing into a mocha dark coffee aroma as you linger over the glass.

Its a beautiful dark brown beer with hints of red when you tilt your glass just the right way in the light and the thinest of tan brown heads as befitting the low carbonation of the style

Once you drink it it turns into a dark chocolate and medium roast coffee experience with hints of burnt toffee. It's not a sweet stout, nor overly bitter, there's a nice maltyness that really comes out as the beer warms. However it's not as silky on the tongue as you might expect for an oatmeal stout, in fact it sometimes feels a bit thin, but there's plenty of complexity from the dark roasted malts and coca nibs interacting to make for a very moreish brew. The hops are subtle as you'd expect from a stout, but they let themselves be known on the finish which is slightly zingy on the sides of the tongue. 

Added bonus is of course the attractive distenctive Renaissance bottle which Dai Henwood described as "making you feel like you are in Game Of Thrones, not the suburban twenty tens". Too right. 

Perfect for a winters night, posible dessert match but also good with venison!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Rogue - Juniper Pale Ale

In the depths of a Glenfield winter, there is always the light and well being that is a glass of beer.
Just look at this golden lovely! A glowing gold with hints of orange, its like a beacon on a cold winters eve.
Sure its head is thin, but it make up for it with good looks. A juniper pale sounds like a good match, my only experience with what juniper tastes like is of course gin, and probably average gin at that. But to my delight the bitter astringency that I associate with  the juniper flavour blends very well into a hoppy malty pale ale. Its light on aroma, malts hints of hops nothing too noteworthy and drinking is the same, a very nice light pale ale with light mouthfeel, finishing with hops and hints of that weird gin flavour we all know and love from stealing sips of grandma's drinks at christmas.
Its actually a damn fine beer and I can see why its won awards, I could drink several of these.
Refreshing and quenching, probably really good post gardening beer and only a little dangerous at 5.2%

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Krombacher - Weizen

Krombacher, its German, and really cheap at my supermarket. I hate wheat beers so naturally I keep buying them.

I keep buying them because I live in vain hope that there might be one out there I really like, the closest so far has been a New Zealand offering, the Tuatara Heffe. However I've heard rumours that ze Germans make a good wheat beer, so being ever so I brave, I opened a bottle.

Its a bright, hurt your eyes kinda winter afternoon. So its definitely worthy of a beer. I first get yeasty lager aromas from this beer. I'm hopeful of not being overpowered by all those weird wheat beer esters. It pours like magic, cloudy orange, bright white bubbly head. Looks fantastic, but NO, I can smell the cloves. Ewww. Sigh, I'll drink it anyways. I go in for a sip and actually its not too bad, the clove flavour isn't too intense and theres a fairly mild malty flavour with a bit of a zing. Second sip is kinda yeasty with a mild fruity finish. Finish is short apart from the clove thing that seems to hang around on the palate for the weeks after finishing a wheat beer.

Well I'm not convinced. Its still a pass on the wheat beers for me, but it wasn't as awful as I expected and probably quite nice if you like this sort of thing. (You weirdos).

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Garage Project - Aro Noir

Garage project, I need you.  I need you to be just down the road and serving kegs up at my local on a weekly basis.

But until I manage to concoct some brilliant plan to *cough* "encourage" you to look at moving to Auckland I will have to make do with the kegs that make it our way and the odd bottle offering.

Stylish label is it not? Garage project are not afraid to experiment with label design or beer design. Bold flavours, experimental combinations, its all on and craft beer fans can't get enough. I was thrilled when bottles started turning up at Forest Hill liquorland.
For winter's gloom I felt a stout was in order so I went straight to the darkside with Aro Noir. It pours black, black, black, black, with a nice pale tan brown head. A very dark roasted malt aroma with hints of sweetness and hops gives away some of what's to come.
I as understand it "three different ‘black’ malts are combined with crystal and pale" to produce this dark lovely. So its no wonder that the burnt toast, roast coffee, bitter cocoa flavours are right up front. There's just enough sweet malt in there to lend a hand to the hops but those black malts keep shining through. A little astringency but nothing of putting add to a complex finish. 
As an added bonus the 7% ABV does a nice job of warming ones toes on a winters afternoon too. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fuller's London Black Cab Stout.

Ah English beers, I have a awkward relationship with you. I sometimes like you but sometimes you are so weird to my new world palate.

But the more I drink you, the more I like you and not just in a everything tastes good after the fifth glass way.

So I had the stout out of the fridge while I did a little housework and let it warm up to New Zealand winter room temp (don't know why I bothered really but I'm every the delusional optimist).
Once I'd earned my beer I retired to the gloomy deck and poured a glass. Oh my black beauty, attractive little number aren't you ;) I think the beer is flirting with me, although it may just be the migraine medication I had to take this morning. Anyway the beer invites me to take in some of its aroma's before we get down to business.  Well hello dark roasted sugary sweet malts you smell very nice, plus some really dark dried fruit aromas that must be yeast driven. Do I smell a little wood or vanilla and just the subtlest hint of coffee?

The flavour is all that on the nose with an excellent smooth creamy mouthfeel. There's some bitterness from hops not evident in the aroma that add a lovely balance and more coffee comes shining through. A little bitter cocoa with a roasty note also adds complexity. Its not too big, but not small either, there's enough richness in the finish to be really satisfying but its not so heavy as to become overwhelming.

I enjoyed the bottle more and more as it warmed up, a satisfying stout that I would drink again.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Tuatara Conehead

I pretty much love everything about this beer. From purchase to cleaning the bottle for homebrew its all a joyful experience. (Speaking of homebrewing, if anyone else is drinking this beer please save me the bottles.)

Firstly its $8.90 a bottle from Brothers Beer, Glengarry and hopefully other outlets I've yet to visit in my search. The bottle is damn cool. Scales and a Tuatara eye on the bottle cap, cool cool cool. The label reminds me of a house we used to rent in Whangarei with an original 70's kitchen, so brown, so orange (and teal green carpet with velvet curtains, oh god the place was a living museum). I don't know what they were thinking with the label actually. But its okay all is forgiven when you pop that cap. This brew is fresh, aroma, is so green and piney, fuzzy green green peaches, resin, hops, all so good. 

Its pours so clear, its like a lager in colour, a beautiful gold with a glass lovin lacey head. No chill haze, and unlike a certain beer I wont name (*cough...Hallertau stuntman) no hop sludge in the bottom of the bottle. No need to prove you put hops in by leaving some in the bottle, I can smell every single cone.

Sure its bitter, but in an oh so lovely way. There's a real art to balancing hop flavours and I can't fault this blend, its got Citra and Amarillo in the boil with Nelson Sauvin in the hop back. There's an impression of sweetness from the hop flavours too, a tempered and wise hand on the malt means theres no cloying aftertaste. Its a crisper finish than I'm used to in this style but works very very well.
It tastes like it smells and maybe thats because of the fresh hops, but it makes for satisfying drinking. 

I love it, more fresh hopped beers NZ brewers! (For 8 Wired.. high five!)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Eagle vs Dog Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster - Imperial Brown Ale

Mmmm imperial, promises to be full on flavour and booze. I'm already sold.

Who could go past a beer that so blatantly references Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy. Not me obviously, I'm a sucker for sci fi and this label demanded purchase. 

It pours a beautiful deep reddish brown with a light brown head that goes on to lace the glass as the beer goes down. 

A nice hoppy and toasted grain aroma greets the drinker. That is to say it greets me, it doesn't slap or shout or hide demurely. Its just a friendly hello from beer. I can also detect a ruddy sweet aroma, I think it might be the alcohol.

First sip is hoppy and bitter, sweetness is minimal but mouthfeel is gorgeous, smooth and creamy. Hints of raisins and coffee on the finish and the lingering hoppy bitterness is very enjoyable. I think the high alcohol content (7.5%) is contributing to the perceived raisin flavour. 

Its a slow sipper, definitely not a quaffer and probably quite nice after a meal with a cheese plate.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Mike's Strawberry Sour

I've been taking papers at Uni. Yes its continuing education for the old. Must develop career blah blah blah.Was I ever so young as these fresh faced idiotic first years? Oh yes, and probably worse. But I can't comprehend spending thousands per year and then talking your way through lectures. My withering stares don't seem to be working either. Looks like I'll have to nerd up and sit near the front of the class.
To celebrate my confusion in applied statistical modelling and because its my birthday, I treated myself to this delightful brew.

Oh my. Strawberries. It smells like strawberries. Its the end of summer but soft aroma's bring it all back. Beautiful ripe refreshing strawberry. 

It pours dark, a brown red that reminds me of fruit wines. The aroma is reminiscent of a fruit wine but its a BEER, whats going on.

Flavour is whats going on. Holy crap its like someone took the ripest, sweetest, darkest red strawberries and made them into jam, then they took that jam and made beer. A sweet/sour fruity beer. Its hard to find the malt in here, its probably part of the sweetness that balanced out the sour so perfectly. This fruit beer has a lovely balance and a dry finish. No cloying syrup feel here, just refreshing bright strawberry. So light in the mouth, with subtle carbonation to refresh and delight its ever so drinkable. It's a little like champagne with its delicate mouthfeel.

A beaut little woody/vanilla aroma is in the mix and becomes more evident as the beer warms in the glass. With a smaller volume some golden hues also start to shine in the dying evening light. 

I'm very new to the whole sour beer style, but I can see why its damn popular. Mike's have a delicious example here, my palates too inexperienced to tell if its brett or lacto, but whatever it is, its damn good. 

Seek this out before summer ends, sip on the deck with some brie or camembert watching the dying sun. You wont regret it.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Green Flash - Rayon Vert

Do you like head?! Or just foam in general? Then this is the beer for you. At first I thought I had spontaneously lost the ability to pour beer, all I was getting was foam foam FOAM. And its long lasting. Even after getting a majority of the beer into the glass the foam kept building rising about the glass like a beer soufflé. Carbonation is done with a heavy hand here but the effect is beautiful and fanciful. (If only bubble bath were beer........)

Green Flash make some of my favourite beers in the whole world, the West Coast IPA and the Double Stout are beer perfection (to my stunted little taste-buds anyway). So not being a huge fan of Belgium styles and slightly afraid of the Brett I am slightly nervous of this offering.

This is my first encounter with a whole Brett beer to myself and I'm surprised to find myself enjoying it. Initially all the aroma is clove. It's soon followed up with some solvent lemon and the funk. I've got the funk and I feel it in my bones. I'm actually enjoying the aroma. Its got hints of medicinal phenolics that I don't find too off putting, instead its alluring and kinda reminds me of old wooden chests that stored my grandparents sacred treasures.

The carbonation keeps everything light and refreshing. Its like a wheat beer and pale ale and brett funk all rolled into one. Its complex, but not difficult to enjoy.

Belgium characteristics aren't too strong and as the beer warms the clove fades and I get more of the brett aromas. Peachy hops, malty sourness. Its all over the place.

At 7% it slides down pretty easy, probably dangerous for an after work brew, but the effort of trying to get it in the glass means I wouldn't have more than one anyway. (nah I'm lying, I'd do it all over again in a green flash!)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Moa Methode

Well I finally have some cross credits and work approval to study next year. Terrifying.

Best calm the nerves with a beer! Methode is not so calming, fresh out the fridge and on opening it almost spews its foam everywhere. But straight into a glass and it seems to have calmed down. This baby is beautifully carbonated. Lush foamy white head and plenty of bubbles running up the glass is a very attractive prospect on this sweltering Auckland afternoon.

The aroma is zesty and lemony. Also a little caustic, it kinda reminds me of getting a whiff of concentrated acid up the nose. Its not as bad as that, but I can't think of how else to describe it. Its an aroma that brings to mind brewery tours, concrete floors cold steel, yeast and industrial cleaner. Ah I'm not making it sound any better. 

Its a yeasty bready brew. But cleaner than some of my disastrously yeasty beers. The carbonation keeps the malty taste bouncing on the tongue and prevents cloying sweetness, a moderate amount of bitterness hits the back of the mouth and again the citrus hops release some flavour. 

As it goes down subtle hints of clove and spice become apparent, yeast characteristics shine through adding complexity to the beer. 

Overall its refreshing but the yeast characteristics are a little overpowering for my taste.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Renaissance Voyager - India Pale Ale

When my husband dares go to Brothers Beer without me he knows to bring home something delicious or face the consequences. So its my supreme delight to try Renaissance Voyager.

It pours with no head and minimal carbonation, which I DONT LIKE! I mean it doesn't really make much of a difference but I love the aesthetics a a lovely white head and lacing down my glass. Still the orange haze is nice and hints at the hops within!

Lucky for me the aroma more than makes up for appearances. Sticky green weed aromas, resinous and fresh. Plus hints of tangerine and citrus with the odd pine note.  But mostly is smells like weed. I don't know if its my childhood or my screwed up nose from being exposed to formaldehyde at work but some beers really smell of fresh weed to me.

Its nice and bitter in the mouth, good ol grapefruit on the finish. Dryer than some IPA's I've had which is nice on this hot summer afternoon. The alcohol tingles on the tongue with a bit of spice and pine resin. I just keep going back for sip after sip. Oh its an enticing wee brew alright.

This bottle wont last long on this hot afternoon, damn fine beer.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Stoke Pilsner

I was prepared to be unimpressed, Stoke brew good beers, but they're just good. I like their Bomber range. But the regular offerings of gold, amber etc are not very interesting to me. Damn I'm turning into a pretentious beer-o-phile. But I wont apologise!  GREAT BEER SHOULD BE REVERED!

Anyway imagine my surprise when I cracked open this little brown boy to an intense aroma of pineapple. WHAT THE HELL. I don't know if Pilsner's are supposed to smell like pineapple but I don't care. This beer smells delicious. What a delicious sweet hop aroma combined with lush deep golden colour to provide such an attractive Monday night sneaky brew.

Mmmm this beer goes down a treat, nice carbonation with a persistent white head. Malts are sweet and creamy with a bitterness that could oddly be described as malty. The hops are blended supremely well with the malt. Its refreshing a little on the sweet side with loads of body.

Its floral, but it still has complementary bitterness. I love it but it also feels like something I'd let my grandmother drink. Its a beer of two halves. And beer is the winner on the day.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Adventures in Home Brewing - Bottle explosions

So it finally happened. A bottle bomb, a bang and a fountain of beer spewing all over the downstairs hall. I made several mistakes.
Firstly wheat beer, what was I thinking. Second, I over carbonated, I made it as fizzy as the style guides upper limit. Lastly and probably the most important, I accepted some second hand bottles. Yup I'm that cheap. Second hand plastic brewing bottles. (I need kegs so bad.) Anyway whats worse is that some of these second hand bottles have cracked over the last few weeks and I hadn't got round to hunting them all out and burning them, um, recycling them.
So now my downstairs hall reeks of wheat beer and I have learned many lessons.
The offending bottle on the way to the recycling bin.

Finding a Decent Burner for Home brewing in New Zealand.

This is my cheapo burner set up. My husband bought it for me as a christmas present so I could get started in all grain brewing. We got it at the night markets in Glenfield from a wok dealer for about $80. It came with a regulator. A nice bright blue regulator! A bright orange hose to the the 3 ring burner also was included. It was a pretty good deal.

Each ring has a flow adjuster, well I think thats what they are. Sadly only the smallest ring (controlled by the middle tap) burns clean. Everything else is throwing out so much carbon and making a bloody mess each time I brew. The flames are orange wether or not theres a pot on the frame. I need to get more oxygen in the mix somehow. I have no idea how to do that without blowing myself up.
But I wont let ignorance stand in the way! After a bit of experimenting and some husband power to loosen off the the cog things behind the taps we finally had nice blue flames. Yep those cog things controlled the mix, and while there's still a hint of yellow at the tips of 2 ring its MUCH better than it was.

Now with the burner issue sorted I can finally concentrate on getting a fridge for temperature controlled brewing!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Alpha Dogg - Liberty Brewing Co

Thats dogg with two gees Yo, respect.

What is this beer? Nobody knows, its a mystery, you have to decide for yourself! Of course the clues in the name and on the back of the bottle the rambling talk of hops and hop oils and alpha acids and all the things I love about beer.

Well my little green canine friend, what lies within?

A crystal clear golden beer, thats what! A little white head that manages to keep a ring of white as the brew goes down. Sweet aromas, ahh so sweet, this beer is no dog. Sweet pine, tropical fruits, I wanna say lychees. Am I being a wanker if I say I can smell lychees? Y'know I've only had lychees a few times in my life. Most of my experience comes from lychee liqueur borrowed from my grandparents booze cabinet. Anyway the nose is delicious, sweet and tropical candy flavour goodness.

But whats it like to drink. Its damn good. Thats how it is. There's syrup sweet malts balanced nicely with grapefruit bitterness, the bitterness hangs on the breath while the sweetness coats the tongue. Its nicely balanced and never gets cloying or too bitter. Its been a superb beer to linger over. As it warms more of the malt sweetness comes through luckily liberty are damn geniuses because it still seems balanced and I'm enjoying every mouthful.

Enjoyed over the evening like a fine bottle of wine, alpha dogg, deceptively named is more like pure bred dog. Very fine, nice lineage.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Mata - Brown Boy Amber Ale

Brown-boy; to me that brings to mind memories of my younger brothers Dylan and Michael. We have a lovely heritage of Portuguese, Maori and English. I have the short end of the stick with a pale english complexion that burns and blushes easily while my younger brothers have a beautiful Mediterranean/Maori combination of smooth brown skin that tans so evenly every summer.

But enough about my ancestors breeding habits, on to the brew. This beer has superb colour, its a dark red with tinges of brown. A delicious foamy light brown head tops the brew and the carbonation keeps it going throughout the entire glass.

The aroma is sweet and slightly stinging on the nose. Hints, just hints of pine and grapefruit. I feel a sense of fresh beer and bright hops. The malt aromas also start to shine through with a hint of coffee and toasted bread.

The taste is really malty, with a a fair amount of balancing bitterness from the hops. The mouthfeel is light and sweet with bittersweet hops encroaching at the end. It feels a bit thin, but works well with the flavours so the overall vibe is refreshing and smooth. Hints of toffee and green coffee and a hint of spice or pepper on the finish.

Available in four packs it's a great weekend buy.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Dr. Hops World Pale Ale

I'm finding most hoppy beers are best enjoyed from my Tuatara glass, it has such a nice shape. So Dr. Hops you'll have to share the limelight with a branded glass I'm afraid.

First thing I notice on the label is Best Before Jan 13. Fuck. I can only blame the boys at Glengarry for this. They insist on following me into the chiller and helping me select beers. I suspect they think I'm going to stuff my giant handbag with expensive craft beers and flee the store. Although they are only trying to be helpful they directed me specifically to this expired beer. CONSPIRACY! I think so.

Its my understanding that hop aroma fades over time and maybe even some of the hop flavour so I might not be trying this beer at its best.

Also on the label is a link to the website, go there at your own risk. And make sure you turn your speakers up really loud!

So we have a beer that is a deep spiced orange colour with a thin white head, its fairly hazy. Its got a sweet aroma,  oranges and marmalade maybe a hint of lychee and tropical fruits.

Its bitter and effervescent to drink. Little spice and a little green sap. The malts are quite nice but its pretty dominated by bitter hops. There's a medium finish with hop breath hanging around for a while and sweetening in your mouth as the oil evaporate from your tongue. Its good drinking for a pale ale, but ones enough for me. I really wish I'd been able to try this earlier.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Tuatara APA - Aotearoa Pale Ale

This beer is very special. It represents the generous spirit of New Zealand brewers. Recently I smashed my most favourite Tuatara beer glass. It had been a christmas present from my husband along with some Tuatara beer (he knows my favourites) so naturally I was pretty gutted. Being addicted to the internet I immediately went online to share my grief with the world and with Tuatara. That same evening they asked for my address and before I knew it I had a replacement glass and two bottles of beer in my hands! Its the kind of thing you usually only read about happening to someone else. So a big thank you to Tuatara, thanks for going to extraordinary lengths to make me happy. Whats really special  is they weren't obliged to do this, the glass didn't break due to some manufacturing fault, or spontaneous explode in my hand ruining my classical oboe career but broke due to my own inherent clumsiness.

When you open this beer you are bathed in a hoppy breath straight outta the pacific. New Zealand hops have their own unique fragrance its fresh, green, with a bit of zing. Tuatara have used Pacific Jade, Cascade (very different to US cascade if you get a chance to compare them side by side), Sauvin and Wai-iti. I'm not familiar with Wai-iti but overall the blend is really good, delicious aroma. Sweet tropical fruit notes, grapefruit and pine are the main contenders. The sauvin is adding some more complex fruit notes that I can't quite put my finger on.

Initial pour was golden/orange with a lovely little persistent white head. Aromas blend well with the taste, there is plenty of hop bitterness to complement the aroma. Its a soft bitterness that only just wanders into a piney note on the finish. Plenty of sweet malt pull in all the aromas and bitterness into a gorgeous mouthful.

Its a great canvas for showing off the New Zealand hops and a beer I'll return to again.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Just add Yeast - Fresh Wort Packs

I first heard about fresh wort packs when I was still extract brewing. It was quite an exciting prospect, fresh professionally made wort and all I had to do was supervise the fermentation. It doesn't get much easier than that.

Now I'm an all grain brewer, albeit BIAB, I love learning all the styles of beer and tweaking recipes to be my own however I am still excited by the new Fresh Wort products from Mangrove Jacks but for entirely different reasons. Each month Andrew Childs from Mangrove Jacks teams up with a craft brewery. The next wort pack is coming from Mike's Organic Brewey in Taranaki! Even if you don't live locally you can still get some as delivery is only $10! Its a red IPA named Red Dingo and is made with galaxy hops. Sounds really delicious and its only $60 for 20L (which you can top up with water to 23L or leave as is for a stronger beer).

Its an ideal product for the time poor brewer, you still get to have craft beer at home without resorting to extract.

The wort packs come with recipes on the side so if it turns out a stunner you can recreate it at home. Its only once a month and they sell out fast so sign up for the mailing list if you want to try one.

Wort pack from The Deep creek Brewery. Mmmm Zythos hops! It came with 100g of pellets for dry hopping too.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Harrington's The Rogue Hop - Organic pilsner

Another Pilsner is called for. It's for science, comparative analysis and all that.

And with Pac'n'Sav stocking so few craft offerings I had to support the cause. Buy more craft beer to get more craft beer is my theory. Its win win.

This beer is organic and I feel all saving the planet from pesticides when I buy it.
"That's right fellow humans, I'm saving the planet one beer at a time." Organic Hops surely means New Zealand hops as we are the largest supplier in the world. Harringtons claim its made with their own "Rogue hop". What the heck is a rogue hop? I feel it might refer to one that was growing as a weed on the side of the brew shed, or a whole crop that got accidentally cross fertilised by a rogue male plant in a wild night of pollination.

So what is this hop? Its hard to pick out, there's little aroma from the beer. I feel the malty bready notes coming through and maybe hints of greenish hops, something herby and citrus.

Its a lovely clear beer with golden hues and a white head. Certainly aesthetically spot on for summers day drinking.

When you take a sip the crisp refreshing grapefruit bitterness of the hops dances on the tongue bouncing in with all the bubbles followed by some fairly bready malts, and a hint of raw grain after-taste but not too bad. Its refreshing and spicy to start but start to feel a little heavy after a while.

Still it hits the spot for Auckland Anniversary and nothing better to reward oneself with after successfully navigating the supermarket crowds.

BB 9/JAN/14

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Croucher Pilsner

Pilsner, I always enjoy a good pilsner and this offering is pretty lovely.

Loads of carbonation and a large bubbly head make it attractive summer drinking. Aromas of NZ hops, fruity and floral but not too punchy give the impression of sweetness but then a bitter finish complementing some nice malt flavours.

I often think a nice balanced pils could be the way to move some lager lovers towards more flavourful beers  without completely overwhelming the taste buds. This beer certainly has plenty of complexity without being too overpowering, well for this seasoned IPA drinker anyway.

Easy drinking right to the last drop.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tall Poppy India Red Ale - 8 Wired Brewing Co

Super Liquor (next to Postman's leg in Glenfield) was once a barren land for the craft beer lover. DB and Lion completely dominated the beer fridge, but they've finally wised up and bought in some tasty beers. Unable to decide whats good they seem to have bought one of everything and stuffed them into boxes near the front of the beer fridge. A good rummage round unearthed this bright little treasure. A Tall Poppy India Red Ale. Does anything sound nicer? 

After a fairly hectic morning, I figure the lunch break needs to be suitably decadent and refreshing. I'm rewarded with a beautiful aroma as soon as I pop the cap. Its very fruity and marmalade springs to mind. Hints of pine come wafting through as well as an amazing amount of caramel malt. 

Tall poppy pours a dark red with a small foamy head that subsides to a persistent ring as the the beer goes down. A light hand with the carbonation seems balanced with the flavour.

There is a decent amount of bittering hops in the gorgeous brew. Pine and resin seem to be the big components of the bitter notes. But then theres the malt. Robust caramel malts hold up the the bitter hops and surround them in syrupy sweetness making for a bitter and balanced morish beer. 

Each mouthful is a joy and fruity hop aroma marries well with the sweet malts and bitter hops stop it from being cloying and keep everything interesting. Almost worth drinking for the colour alone, its a an IPA with a classy red dress, an excellent drop.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Coconut porter

Thanks to my lovely husband I had the opportunity to go to Brothers Beer this afternoon. Brothers beer, serve beer brew beer and sell a massive range of bottled craft beer from New Zealand and around the world.

I enjoyed a ParrotDog Pit bull IPA on site and then browsed for some takeaway bottles. The Geek  coconut porter caught my eye. I last had a coconut porter so many years ago (I cant remember exactly when)  at Hallertau when they were doing a macaroon flavoured porter. I think its a winning flavour combination, its like the dark chocolate bounty bar of beers.

The geek porter is a sight for porter starved eyes. Its ever so dark in colour, with a thin off white head that only maintains a ring around the edge of my glass as the beer goes down.

There are hints of coconut on the nose, it subtle, rounding the edges of the aroma and melded in with cocoa and well toasted grain.

The mouth is full on porter, chocolately toasted grains with sweet malt and sweet coconut sneaking in at the end. As the beer warms the sweetness is certainly dominates with barely enough dark roast grains to carry through. Its syrupy and silky in the mouth with a slight fine effervescence of carbonation keeping things lively.

I enjoy chilled porters in summer, but prefer them a little warmer in winter. Its the middle of the humid Auckland summer right now so the beer is too warm for me right now.

Overall this is a very enjoyable coconut porter, serve nice and chilled in summer for best effect.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Harringtons Hop Tremor IPA

I've had a busy day, I went and got 60 litres of spring water this morning and brewed, swam and cleaned up after brewing. Making beer from scratch takes ages especially once you factor in all the clean up time. I hope the 5kg of spent grain does something miraculous to my compost heap. Anyway with all the boil off and the discarded trub I ended up with 15L of beer (3L off target). So to console myself over the lost beer to the atmosphere I have opened a Harringtons Hop Tremor.

When I open IPA's I expect big aroma but this beer borders on subtlety. There is a definite resinous aroma that tingles the nose and maybe a little spicy bitter orange marmalade on toast. 

The pour is a beautiful orange amber, fairly clear (the condensation on the outside of my glass hides this). A thin head that dissipates rapidly and not much in the way of lacing. 

Where this beer packs its punch is right in the tastebuds. All those subtle aromas bust into life, the pine, the marmalade and they sit in a dry syrupy caramel malt thats coasts the tongue and leaves the bitterness lingering long after the amber liquid is swallowed. The dryness make the bitterness even more pronounced and after a while the beer begins to feel a little unbalanced. 

Its feels a bitter for the sake of being bitter and if you like bitter, its not a bad thing. But it feels to me like its slightly missed the mark.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Tuatara Double Trouble

For maximum enjoyment please put on your dichromic 3D glasses now.
Isn't that a beaut glass! Zed gave it to me for Christmas.

I have lusted after this beer for so long and I am not disappointed. Some people might say "Never meet your heroes/idols" It just spoils the illusion. You discover they are just human, flawed jaded and impatient. But thats people. ALWAYs drink your aspirational beers. ALWAYS!

This sat in my fridge for FIVE days before I opened it. Just what justified the breaching of this idolised beer? First day back at work of course. Nothing to do all day and I didn't even get let go early. Bah! Its a shocking 4.6 standard drinks per bottle. So work tomorrow may be considerably more interesting.

As soon as the cap popped off I knew I was going to be a happy girl, immediate pine notes were wafting through the air. I love pine in an IPA. There's also hints of tropical fruit, like a slightly green mango. Something resinous is slightly stinging the nostrils, its extremely stimulating. And there's a sweetness, is it hop aroma? Passionfruit? Or caramel malt notes shining through. Perhaps the alcohol? At a whopping 9% its packing a spicy sweet punch on the nose.

On the pour, the colour is certainly more impressive than the head. Its a very beautiful glowing copper/amber/gold, Yes all three of those things mashed together in a beautiful hue.

The first sip has hints of anxiety. I want this beer to be good. I want the aroma to match the flavour. I want so much! The first mouthful bounces around the tongue, zinging, coating the roof of my mouth  and hitting all the tastebuds. Its a confusing mash of so many flavours. I love the intensity and interestingly its not as perceptively bitter as the label suggests (167 IBU). The malts have been chosen carefully to blend so well and give the alcohol required to accommodate all these hops.There's definite grapefruit and pine flavours, and lots of little bits of everything else. Eventually the malts are overwhelmed by the oily hops, the more you drink the more bitterness shines through. This bottle is so intense of flavour it can last you well. Definitely something to savour.

Its a beautiful beer, challenging for the average player but worth a purchase for any hop fan. I will be buying this again!

Here's another shot, just because.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Fuller's ESB

The English  extra special bitter is not a beer style I'm overly familiar with, but I'm keen to experience. I did try brewing a Coopers English bitter kit recently and the results were average, so I'm looking to try a well known solid bitter and see what the styles all about.

A nice dark amber liquid with a fairly thin head, this brew is light on carbonation. After a few minutes I am only getting the odd bubble. Its very clear and clean looking with little to no lacing.

First aromas are warm white wine, malt, slight hints of acrid, burnt, well roasted malt its almost a burnt sugar smell. There's a smidge of earthy hop aroma.

There's a nice little effervescence on the tongue, its bitter and the alcohol hits the palate straight away with a wine like texture. Its smooth and glossy. The toffee malty flavours come through quite strong to meld with the bitterness and sometimes its like drinking a low alcohol bitter wine! Especially as the carbonation slows down. I can't decide if I'm enjoying this beer or not. It is flavours I'm not all used to and I find it challenging, but it leaves a pleasant mild after-taste that keeps drawing me back for another sip! The higher alcohol has slight warming effect and I can't really describe it as thirst quenching. This is not lawn mowing beer. This is evenings round the fire "God damn my feet are cold gimme an ESB" kinda beer.

All I can think of is how well it would go with cheese.

Damn it. I'm getting cheese.

So a little mild Camembert is pairing really well with this beer. As I linger over the bottle its warming up and I get more wine and sherry flavours that make this beer so very tasty when matched with food.

I don't know if English bitter would ever be my first choice for beer but I can see why its popular. I imagine this goes great with meals and the after-taste is mild and pleasant. Definitely something I'd like to try in its original climate.

2012 Reading

AfterlightZoo CityQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't stop talkingChild 4411/22/63The Forever Hero1Q84American GodsMiddlesexThe Hunger Games2001: a Space Odyssey2010: Odyssey Two2061: Odyssey Three3001, the Final OdysseyCatching Fire Classic (Hunger Games Trilogy)Mockingjay Classic (Hunger Games Trilogy)The Night CircusThe Tiger's wifeIt Takes a Witch: A Wishcraft MysteryAnatomist, theSchrodinger's cat trilogy: Princess of Mars: John Carter of Mars: Book OneAbraham Lincoln Vampire HunterWheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to HealthThe Smarter Science of Slim: What the Actual Experts Have Proven about Weight Loss, Health, and FitnessFifty Shades of GreyNeverwhereCatherine the Great: Portrait of a WomanDeadlocked: A True Blood NovelAuschwitz: A Doctor's eyewitness accountRedshirtsAmpedBlue Remembered EarthThe Wind-Up Bird ChronicleTo Say Nothing of the DogThe Daughter of TimeThe Word for World Is ForestThe StrainPanic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of ScienceNever Let Me GoDivergentInsurgent (Divergent Trilogy (Hardcover))The Bell JarRiverworld: Including to Your Scattered Bodies Go & the Fabulous RiverboatThe Night EternalThe LeopardThe FallMagic for BeginnersArtisan Beer