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.