Monday, February 10, 2014

Auckland bars improving, but more education needed.

A couple of weeks ago I handed over some of my hard earned dollars for the privilege of trying a beer I was completely unfamiliar with.

De Molen Donder & Bliksem (thunder and lightning) has such an appealing name, it jumped off the beer list, how could I not try it. "Bring me a bottle of your Donder and Bliksem" was met with a bit of a blank stare and then a "huh?" so I pointed it out on the beer list.

First attempt a retrieving the beer from the back room was a failure, oops wrong beer. Second attempt was on the money but then travesty. This bottle conditioned pilsner style beer was unceremoniously dumped into the glass, trub and all. The bottle then promptly whisked away, which was a shame as I was wondering how fresh it was.

A bartender should know when a beer they are serving is bottle conditioned. They should also know how to pour a beer, this guy didn't even pick up the glass, he may have just upended the bottle for all the finesse he used. Now I'm not opposed to haze or even a cloudy beer, lots of beers are just like that. What I don't like is having all the trub in my glass as well. Distinct lack of head too (detergent residue in glass or does the beer just have poor head). Now I don't know if the beer is just poorly brewed or old or badly shipped and stored but overall this beer didn't feel at its best.

Nice to have an extensive beer list, bit sad if you don't know how to present them. I am kicking myself because I didn't have the guts to say anything about it. If only I'd read the guide to refusing a beer, maybe I would have had more confidence! 

The Brewers Guild Certificate in the Craft of Beer is a good start for improving awareness of craft beer but I wonder how many full time tertiary hospitality courses include a segment on proper beer serving? However I suspect many people who work in the hospitality industry haven't had any kind of formal training apart from on the job learning. Nothing wrong with on the job learning but you are limited by the abilities of your mentor, if they don't know any better then you won't get taught any better.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Sunshine Brewery - Gisborne Gold

So I picked this up for 2.99 at my local Pac'n'sav. Sunshine brewery was sold last year to 4 new owners one of whom owns Vintners Ltd (Mark Young). Vintners is a national wine distribution and marketing company and they have also taken over distributing Gisborne Gold. Thats probably how it managed to get a spot on the shelf at Wairau Pac'n'sav, home to a usually dismal selection of craft beers. 

Gisborne cold is a crystal clear honey straw colour with abundant carbonation and a serviceable white foam head. Head retention is excellent as thousands of bubbles keep it going right till the end of the glass. Sunshine in a glass alright.

I love the hop profile, its quite surprising for a lager. Not too much is given away on the nose but there is a lovely grapefruit bitterness with an underlying smoothness of tropical fruit. The malts are lovely and crisp with hints of toast. It finishes with the hops and a refreshing bitterness lingers. It just feels like a fresh beer, sometimes I get a real musty/dusty flavour from some of the mass produced lagers but Gisborne Gold just screams refined crispness. This is a very drinkable beer. Much better than anything you'll find in a green bottle sold by the dozen at Pac'n'save thats for sure.

At 4% ABV and super drinkable is a perfect lawnmower beer. Will definitely be a summer favourite if I could find it in reasonably priced six packs.