Thursday, April 22, 2010


Hi Everyone Check out my new Beer website! It is all new and improved. Make sure to add it to your bookmarks as well as subscribe to the RSS feed so I won't annoy you with tons of blog posts anymore! Let me know what you think....I am VERY excited for this!
This will be my main blog, so make sure to take note and subscribe to the new website!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rent our Room! (and get some fabulous craft beer on tap too!)

60's Vintage Modern Abode Beer Bnb!

Located in the heart of Noe Valley, 3 blocks away from Dolores Park and the Mission District..right outside is the J Muni line and 4 blocks away from the BART station. This LARGE sunny apartment with a private deck and a view of the city is a mid century lover's dream. The room is decorated as a game room, and includes a cocktail arcade game with Galaga, Ms Pacman, Pacman, Donkey Kong and more. The bed is a high end convertible futon that can accommodate 2 people. There is also a 60's record player with tons of great records- lots of Rolling Stones, Hall & Oates, Journey, ect. There is also a vintage poker table for those who like to gamble.
We also own a kegerator, so there may also be craft beer flowing when you visit- please inquire! We are craft beer affectionados and can accommodate those interested in knowing about craft beer, craft beer stores, local craft breweries, craft beer bars as well as restaurants with great craft beer pairings! We can also can arrange craft beer tours and private tastings (tasting notices should be at least 5 days in advance). Think of us as you Beer, Bed & Breakfast
We have a small 20lb dog Stella who is friendly- we may consider small dogs as long as they are friendly and housebroken- please ask. I also have a passion for cooking so breakfast is included and other meals may be arranged as well. Free wireless....
All in all, we are great and friendly hosts, we would love to tell you the best places to eat or hang out in the city. We look forward to meeting you!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jug Shop BrewDog Tasting

The Jug Shop always has some amazing lineups- and this one was one of the best that I have been to.
Kudos to Eric Cripe again!
$25 to taste 8 BrewDog beers.

We tried in order:
1- 5am Saint- Red Ale, 5% abv
2- Punk IPA- 6% abv
3-Atlantic IPA Ale-8.5%
4- Devine Rebel- Collaboration with Mikkeller, barleywine and 12.5% abv.
5-Juxtaposition- Collaboration with Stone and Cambridge. Imperial black pilsner, 10% abv.
6- Isle of Arran Paradox- Collaboration with Isle of Arran Imperial Stout, 10% abv.
7-Paradox SmokeHead- Collaboration with SmokeHead Whiskey, aged for 6 months in scotch malt whiskey casks, 10%
8- Tokyo- Imperial Stout, 18.2% abv.

5am Saint- This is made with Simcoe, Chinook, Nelson Sauvin and Centennial hops. This poured a bright copper red with a good, thick head. On the nose you get tons of passionfruit, pineapple and grapefruit pineyness. It tasted incredibly smooth with some light bitterness, a ton of pine and citrus. It was very forestry tasting- in a good way. It was a good beer to start off the tasting with.

Punk IPA- This is made with Chinook, Ahtanum and Nelson Sauvin hops. This poured a cloudy wheat yellow with very thick foam. It smelled of: funk, yeast, a hint of wet blanket and a ton of citrus. It tasted of a light honey, pine, grapefruit and it had a fantastic sweet to bitter ratio. Fantastic drinkability.

Atlantic IPA Ale- For those of you that don't know the story behind this beer ($28/bottle mind you):
James was given an 1856 "Brewer's Handbook" as a gift last Christmas which contained an even older original IPA hoppy recipe - which provided inspiration for him to embark on BrewDog's latest voyage of creating waves in an otherwise flat beer market.  The following month (January 2009), he set off on a journey on his fishing trawler in the North Atlantic with eight barrels on-board, each containing beer brewed from the original recipe. Atlantic IPA (and James!) survived two months on the North Atlantic, involving a tense barrel-rescue-mission, beatings from force ten storms, 60 foot waves and encounters with killer whales. Upon safe return to dry land, the IPA was bottle conditioned and is now available at and Uto Beer, Real Ale (both London), Cornelius (Edinburgh) Beer Ritz (Leeds).
 This poured an ornage copper with an off white with a touch of orange creamy head. This smelled like honey, spice, oak, malt and a touch of soy sauce. It tasted spicy, oaky, with roasted malt that turned to pine to bitter roasted coffee. It had a fantastic transition in taste. Glad I tried it, not sure if it's worth $28 a bottle.

Devine Rebel- This poured a murky sienna brown with no head. It smelled of raisins, dates, burnt sugar, and some sweet malts. It tasted absolutely delicious. It tasted like rasisins, prunes, dates, subtle smokiness with a hoppy bitter aftertaste. I Loved it! The bitter hoppy aftertaste was just perfectly balanced. I have to say this is one of my favorite barelywines!

Juxtaposition- This is made with Japanese and New Zealand hops. It poured a pitch black. It smelled like raisins, dates, prunes, maple syrup then spicy hops. It tasted like raisins, stewed plums, sweet malt than some spicy hoppy bitterness mixed with some juicy luscious fresh mango. Really good. High drinkability and not much burn for the alcohol- it was pretty well hidden.

Isle of Arran Paradox- This is aged in Isle of Arran malt whiskey barrels. This poured a semi clear cola brown. It smelled malty, with a touch of smokiness, light espresso and light hops. It tasted malty with some milk chocolate notes, light licorice, whiskey and light coffee bitterness on the ending.Quite well balanced and tons of delicate interesting flavors going on here. 

Paradox Smokehead- This poured black with a tint of red. This smelled like TONS of tobacco, tons of smoke, scotch and a lot of alcohol.  It tasted like malt but with a good balance of smoked tobacco. It tasted like I was drinking tobacco mixed with scotch. Like a glass full of scotch leftover from a party that someone ashed their cigarettes in. That may be your thing, don't get me wrong. I am not saying this is a bad beer; however, scotch isn't my thing, so it's just not for me. BUT if you do like scotch, this one may be interesting for you to try.

Tokyo- Last but not least, this puppy is made with jasmine and cranberries and then aged on french toasted oak chips. It poured a dark chocolate with a thin milk chocolate head. It smelled of sweet honey, raisins, stewed prunes, candied malts and a touch of spice. It tasted like sweet malt, sweet dried raisins, prunes, dates, touch of black currant and a light hoppy bitterness on the ending. It had a fabulous hop bitterness ending. I enjoyed this beer a lot!

Overall, BrewDog is doing some great beers with a ton of innovation. Their beers are beautiful; subtle pretty notes mixed with in your face barrel aging. They are mixing of everything great that's going on in craft beer from all over the world and creating some great new beers. I highly recommend that you try their beers. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

5th Women Who Like Beer: Strong Ales, Barleywines and Samuel Adam's Utopias!

Another fantastic meetup! We are so lucky to have such great people come and join in on all of the tasting fun~ It was so much fun this time that people hung out until midnight! Not to mention how great it was to open and taste Samuel Adams Utopias! We managed to score another bottle for everyone to try so we figured to have them try it at this meetup since it's such a rare find and a treat at $200 a bottle. 

So I asked everyone who attended to do their homework: that was to rate their top 3 favorite beers and why they liked them. 

The total consensus was:
1-Avery's Beast Gand Cru 2008 (we also all learned what Grand Cru means) 
2- Dogfish Head's 120 Minute IPA (18% abv!)
3-Tie between Samuel Adam's Utopias (27%abv) and North Coast's Old Stock Ale 

I also asked everyone to write why they liked the beers they picked.
Some of the responses were:

Courtney said she picked the Utopias as #1 because it's just like Port. She said the Deschuttes Jubel 2010 had a fruity punch in the middle and North Coast's Old Stock was very much like pop (in a good way).

Riah said It's difficult to say, but...the Utopias is so smooth and sweet but not overwhelming. The 120 minute IPA was lighter than the Beast Grand Cru but also sweet. I'm not generally a sweet beer person but the way we worked up to it really kind of leaves me out of context of the early more bitter beers that we tasted. She picked Dogfish Head's 120 as her #1 because it's smooth with some sweet pear notes but light. The Utopias as her #2 because it's creamy, like brown sugar, maple syrup and creme brulee. Her #3 was Dogfish Head's Palo Santo Marron because it had caramelized bananas and coffee flavors in it.

Shana picked North Coast's Old Stock as her #1. She said she loved the balance of the hops and the malt- super smooth!

Kate said her #1 was the 120 because it's tangy with a sugar blast.

Meredith liked the Beast Grand Cru because of it's honey, candy and maple syrup flavors. She also said she thought the Utopias would be too sweet and strong but she loved it.

Jen said she picked Nectar Ale's Black Xantas as her #1 because she loved the coffee bean flavors and of its drinkability. She picked The Breast Grand Cru as her #2 and said she didn't like it at first- until she tried it with crackers. She thinks it would be good with a salty pairing. 

We also got a few compliments which is always nice to hear. 
Meaghan Paice said Fun, nice people and educational.
Kate said  You are so hospitable and gracious. Thanks you!!!
Shana said You guys always put on an exceptional tasting/pairing. Loved it!!!

Thank YOU guys again for making it so successful! I look forward to our next meetup:
Beer pairing with Cheese and Chocolate Fondue (with men too!)

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Zealand: 7 Random Bottled Beers

So sadly, this will be my last New Zealand post from this trip. All good things must come to an end so then you can realize they were good, right? Anyways, I enjoyed a bunch of random beers along the way. Many of which were a gift from the guys at Croucher Brewing, which was much appreciated, as well as beers that I randomly found in stores. It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it!

1-Speight's Old Dark 5 Malt Ale- Traditional brewers of fine ales since 1876. 4% abv. This poured a reddish brown with a touch of a white head. It smelled of light caramel, toffee and vanilla. This tasted like sweet malts mixed with a touch of light cherry cola. It was just ok, and slightly weird. It didn't give me that wow factor by a long shot.

2-Townshend Brewery- Old House ESB-from Rosendale, Nelson. Batch #118 and it had a best by date of 10/10/10. 5.3% abv. This poured a lightly cloudy reddish orange hue. On the nose you get: spice, malt and a touch of honey. It tasted of light malt,  grass, herbs, light bitterness with a  light grapefruit bitterness ending. It had great drinkability.

3-Wigram Brewing Co- Captain Cooks's Spruce Beer- This beer is based on Captain Cook's original recipe first made in Dusky Sound, New Zealand in 1773. Flavored with Spruce (rimu) and tea tree (manuka). Claims this to be a 'healthy' recipe. 5% abv. This poured an murky orange copper. It smelled of mushrooms, spice, bouillabaisse and seemed very meaty. It tasted soupy: very meaty with cooked string beans. And it had a light mint clean aftertaste. Very very weird. This seemed similar to the experimental stuff that Dogfish Head does with their ancient recipes. But sometimes those recipes are ancient for a reason. SO if you are a big fan of Campbell's Chunky Soup, then this is your beer. If not, definitely skip it!

4- Dux de Lux Brewing Co- Hereford Bitter- Dark Munich Lager. 5% abv. Brewed in Christchurch and Queenstown. This poured a dark chocolate with a slight orange hue. It smelled hoppy: dry hopped, marijuana and light mint. It tasted like it had a good malt character, dark espresso and ends with a dry bitterness.  This one was decent. I would try their beers again.

5-Epic- Pale Ale- Made with 23 different types of hops. Made in Auckland. 5.4% abv. This poured a clear orange with a touch of sienna. On the nose, you get aromas of orange, light passionfruit, grapefruit skin and some resin. It tasted citrusy, bitter grapefruit and a piney aftertaste. This was the best hoppy beers so far (I had this before their Armageddon at Brew on Quay).

6- Harrington's Limited Edition Lazy Summer Lager- Made with tangelos, coriander and crushed ginger- 5% abv. This poured a clear golden orange with no head. On the nose, I got flavors of juicy ginger, spice and citrus. It tasted of a light malt, light tangelo, lemon with a huge spicy ginger almost ginger beer like flavor. I couldn't drink it all- it was too much for me. This may be good for those who like ginger beer, which seemed to be all over New Zealand, but even then it seemed way too intense to drink. Not even to pair with spicy food or bbq or anything- I just didn't like it.

7- Three Boys- Golden Ale- This sadly, was my official last beer in New Zealand. It is made with 100% Canterbury malted barley and 100% Nelson bred hops. A genuine Kiwi brew and a perfect match for summer. Batch # 1159 best before 10/16/10 (love those dates!) Serve at 7-10 degrees C.  It had a great logo, great little details but they forgot one thing: not to bottle their product in a freaking green bottle! I opened it and sure enough: it smelled skunked! It poured a clear marigold yellow with a 1/2" thick head. It smelled skunked with some light sweetness, candied malts and pine. It tasted very refreshing, light grass, pine, light hoppy bitterness comes out at the end balanced with a tangy citrus. You get a light pucker aftertaste. You don't get too much malt flavor in taste, I get more malt just on the nose. Overall, it seems light- more pilsnery than an ale but it sort of goes with the whole kiwi thing. But there is more flavor in there than your run of the mill pilsner.

All in all, what I learned about New Zealand beer: there are some really good things happening over there in the world of small craft breweries. Overall, it seems like the majority of people like their boring British styles of beer, pilsners and beer that tastes like soda. However, when it comes to decent craft beer, there are definitely things blooming and good beers being produced. It's almost like watching the whole West Coast beer thing being born over there.( I mean, they are even growing Cascade for goodness sakes!)  It's interesting to me, coming from San Francisco where we have access to a ton of fantastic beer but they are all very intense  in-your-face flavors. But this was a process as well. I can't wait to see what will come next out of New Zealand and I am definitely looking forward to getting back there as soon as possible.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Zealand: Brew on Quay & Galbraith's Alehouse

So coming from San Francisco and being spoiled to having great access to beer in beer bars like Toronado, I have a bit of a high bar to fill when trying out a new beer bar. But I had hopes for Auckland, having a few on Beer Advocate that had good ratings. So I tried 2 of them: Brew on Quay and Galbraith's Alehouse.

Brew on Quay: Brew on Quay is the latest project from the Brew boys. 3 boys (actually men by age, but boys in every other sense), who have been friends/drinking buddies for a very very long while. With a background in the hospitality industry by trade, and the brew industry by passion, the Brew boys wanted to create a bar with a point of difference. Focusing on great atmosphereambiencefine food and the best brews from around the world.

I walked in an did a quick survey of their beer list. I had heard a bunch of good things about Epic; especially their Armageddon IPA, which I had not seen in any bar or store yet. So I ordered it. I took it upstairs to their rooftop beer garden, which was small but still a great touch.

Epic: Armageddon IPA- 6.66% abv and made with 42 hop cones in every bottle. It poured a clear bright orange with a hint of brown. On the nose I got tons of grapefruit, pineapple and citrus with some resinous pine. It tasted of fresh hops, fresh pine and tons of juicy grapefruit, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. I don't get much malt flavors or sweetness as the bottle says but it's a very very drinkable up to par ipa. Good job Epic!

As I drank the Armageddon, I browsed their bottle list. And for those skeptics who think you can't get your great beers in New Zealand, here is what they had of note: Damnation, Chimay, Anchor Steam, Anderson Valley David's Double, Delirium Nocturnum, Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Unibroue La Terrible and Duvel just to name a few.

I wanted to stay and have more but I had to go try Galbraith's Alehouse for dinner.

I have heard many good things about Galbraith's and it had an even better rating on beer advocate than Beer on Quay. So they are also a brewery besides having a good bottle list. So I decided to do their beer sampler.
I tried in order:
1-Galbraith's Tuatara Bavarian Hefe- 5% abv
2-Galbraith's Bitter & Twisted ESB- 5.3% abv and served on cask.
3-Galbraith's Resurrection- trappist style ale and 8.7% abv.
4- Galbraith's Grafting Porter- 5% abv and served on cask.

Galbraith's Tuatara Bavarian Hefe- This poured a cloudy wheat yellow. On the nose it had a huge mashed banana aroma with some sweetness, vanilla and clove. It tasted sweeter than expected, with overripe bananas, honey, yeast but lacking spice. It left a very light light spice on the tongue in the back in the aftertaste but extremely slight.

Galbraith's Bitter & Twisted ESB- Served on cask! This puppy poured a clear orange teak color. I smelled candied malts, roasted plums, raisins and citrus and pine. It tasted pretty much the same as the nose just a tad lighter. It tasted not as bitter as I would have expected for an ESB.  

Galbraith's Resurrection- This poured a clear copper red. It smelled of light hops, light malt and slightly sweet. It tasted light with some caramel notes, light citrus and some spice on the end. It tasted pretty light for it being 8.7% abv. It was very English and very mild. 

Galbraith's Grafting Porter- Again, served on cask! This poured a dark brownish black with no head. It smelled of coffee, vanilla, sweet malts and a touch of caramel. It tasted of light roasted coffee, light vanilla and toasted malts. It was very drinkable and Gary's favorite.

So out of the 2 beer bars, I definitely liked Brew on Quay better. It had a better selection of beer, the location was better (right on the Marina waterfront), the place was a bit new mixed with an old- like the brick building it is housed in with each room decorated different, and the friendly staff. Galbraith's Alehouse just seemed so old fashioned. The clientele was all older, the food was trying to be fancy but it was just redesigned pub food and the bartenders weren't that helpful. In fact, I noticed some really good bottled beer that wasn't on their beer menu and I asked about those and they didn't know much about it. One of my pet peeves is when I ask about a beer in a brewpub and they don't know about it. Shouldn't you know what you are selling?  I do have to give them props for having beer in cask though. They also had some decent bottled and guest tap beers (Like Crouching Brewing's Vicar's Vice Forbidden Fruit on draft) but their own beer was very typical run of the mill English style boring beers, which aren't really my thing. Not to mention how dirty all of their brewery equipment was! I wish I saw that before I tried their beers. I would have stuck to their bottle list!

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Zealand: Waiheke Island Brewery

So, you know how beautiful Napa/Sonoma is: the wineries, the landscape, the incredible food, the cheese, the olive oil and everything in-between; it seems like it couldn't get any better. Well, it can. Put it on an island surrounded by aquamarine colored water. It's called: Waiheke Island. You even take a ferry there from Auckland or Devonport (the only downer is you have to rent a car for the day, which is the equivalent of $50 US but totally worth it).

While there and enjoying some amazing wine and food from Cable Bay, we found out there was a micro brewery on the island that also does beer tastings. So of course, we had to check it out. It is called Waiheke Island Brewery. It had a great set up: a huge outdoor patio to enjoy your beers on (they also had wine tastings, olive oil tastings and sauces like chutney to taste there as well). Their bottles were so great and they even had a package where you could buy a bottle of beer with a glass in a nice wooden wine box (perfect gift to bring home to Dave!).

There were 4 beers to try in their tastings:
1-Baroona Pale Ale- 4.7% abv
2- Wharf Rd Wheat Beer- 4.5% abv
3-Onetangi Dark Ale- 4.3% abv
4-Matiatia Malt Beer- 7.2%

Baroona Original Pale Ale- the description said: Based on the German-Kolsch style with the use of the famous New Zealand Saaz (Motueka) hops. Baroona is brewed with 90% pilsner malt and 10% malted wheat and is top fermented. It recommends to pair it with spicy food. It poured  a clear hay yellow with a touch of brown to it. It had flavors of grapefruit, citrus, hay and grass on the nose. It tasted very light, pilsnery with a very very faint touch of hops. Overall it did not have much flavor and I would disagree about it pairing with spicy food. Spicy food needs something substantial in flavor to stand up to it and you would think it might, according to its description of hops, but there wasn't much to this beer. So I would recommend pairing with it with simply grilled fish, smoked salmon, or anything pickled.

Wharf Rd Wheat Beer- the description said: Bavarian Hefeweizen style, brewed with 50/50 blend of pilsner wheat, very light hopped with Pacific Halleryau and fermented with Bavarian yeast. It recommends to pair it with salads, seafood and pasta. It poured a cloudy wheat yellow with no head. It smelled of banana, clove, bubblegum and a touch of sweet honey. It tasted extremely light- a light banana bubblegum aftertaste and slightly dry on the tongue. It was just ok for me if that. And again, with this beer being so slight I disagree with the pairing suggestions (really a hefeweizen with pasta?): I would suggest this beer pairs well with sausages, potato salads, pretzels, bratwurst, mostly german food.

Onetangi Dark Ale- the description said: Porter style and using a blend of 8 different grades of malted barley. Hopping is stronger than most dark beers with New Zealand grown Styrian Goldings used for bitterness and aroma. Rich and creamy, yet light soft chocolate notes of malt are perfectly balanced for their hops, with their rich, fruit cake flavor.  It recommends to pair it with roast meats, game or oysters.
It poured a clear orangish teak. It smelled of slight caramel and sweetly toasted malts. It tasted more roasted than expected with some light milk chocolate notes and ends with a little bitter dryness on the tongue. It had a good flavor for being so light at 4.3% abv. It was slightly too light for the style. It was the best out of all 4 in my opinion and reminiscent of a doppelbock .

Matiatia Malt Beer-the description said: based on the American IPA, this beer is perfect for an after-dinner beer or nightcap. The palate is rich and full with notes of toffee and chocolate, balanced with  generous additions of New Zealand grown Cascade hops for a lingering resinous finish. It recommends to pair it with desserts, cheese or chocolate. It poured a slightly cloudy red mahogany with no head. On the nose, I got flavors of chocolate, vanilla, toffee, roasted malt and light espresso. It tasted  of roasted malt but light for 7.2% abv. Very British feeling. Dry on the tongue. I would never have known it had Cascade hops in it. The only indication is the dry tongue aftertaste. How is this based on an American IPA? I would disagree with this one about it being an after-dinner beer. This would be good paired with oysters, stews or gravies, perhaps some light chocolate desserts but it feels more meaty than desserty. There are much better beers to pair with dessert or chocolate.

Overall, this brewery was a bit disappointing. The bottle packaging is fantastic and I really like that they are using New Zealand based ingredients. However, their beers were too middle of the road, if that. They were not different enough for me to justify the micro brew price so why would I spend more money on these beers when I can get ones I really enjoy for the same price? They all just felt like watered down versions of good beers. I think they have potential but they need to get there and make themselves stand out taste wise or they will be weeded out by the rest.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Zealand: A little beer garden in Okere Falls

Traveling to Lake Rotoriti, I was surprised to not only find a atomic vintage looking high end deli, but a cool one with a beer garden in the back! It's called the Okere Falls Store We got there on the late side, but they said that their hours were from 7am-7pm, but if there were people hanging out in the back that they sometimes don't close the beer garden until 9pm. Good to know! So we had to come back the next day (we were only there 2 nights).

So the next day, after boating on Lake Rotoriti to the Hot Springs in the middle of the lake in the rain, we washed up and got ourselves over to the Okere Falls Store for a snack and some beer. They had really cute T Shirts there as well as local jellies, sauces, espresso, wine, local vegetables and delicacies. We grabbed a few snacks to munch on in the back as well as a beer.

The beer I tried was:
by Altien-brauerei Kaufbeuren- Hellespont Starkbier Belli Bock- 6.9% abv and a Maibock/ Belli Bock. It poured  a hazy sunshine yellow. It smelled of light apricot, lemon, malt and some light cereal. It tasted belgiany, yeasty with light sweet malts and a touch of dried apricot. It was very pleasant to drink- especially in their outside beer garden. That's something we are lacking here in San Francisco is a decent place to sit outside and drink your beer.

We also tried by
Altien-brauerei Kaufbeuren- Jubilaums German Pils- 5% abv. This poured a yellow hay color with a thick white foamy head that dissipated quite quickly. It smelled of a touch of hops with some earthiness and grass notes to it. It tasted of light hops, a touch of herbs, and some light malt.

Apparently this place has a bunch of beer festivals as well.  You should try to make it there!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Zealand: Monteith's Brewing

So after a 13 hour plane ride that landed at 5:30 in the freaking morning and a semi-nap, I was looking forward to trying my first New Zealand beer at lunch. It was Monteith's Brewing Radler Bier and boy, did I wish I had a glass of wine instead! I looked up the brewery and once again found that it was bought by a large corporation, DB Breweries. I disliked the Radler Bier so much that I wouldn't buy anymore Monteith's when I saw it. However, my friend and I were walking around a neighborhood and there wasn't much to do there, so we saw a Monteith's Ale House called The Copper Room and out of pure boredom, we tried 2 more beers.

Monteith's Radler Bier- 5% abv, says : An easy drinking beer with light hoppy notes and a hint of natural lemon juice. Poured a light clear yellow. It smelled like Sprite soda, artificial lemon and light faint hops. It tasted like Sprite soda with the tiniest touch of hops. It was nasty. The last thing I ever want a beer to taste like is soda. It reminded me of a Zima or something to that effect. I bet it is popular with college students who don't know the taste of real beer.  (I just looked it up and it has a D+ rating on beer advocate. Not sure what the + is for).

Montieth's Summer Ale- Lager 5% abv. I didn't even want to try this beer after the Radler Bier, but the bar tender in the brew pub insisted I try it, as it's apparently their best seller. The only difference between this and the Radler beer is that instead of Spite lemon/lime soda, this tasted like carbonated apple juice soda. Not sure which one was worse, but they were both the worst beers I tried on my trip.

Monteith's Black Beer-Schwarzbier style- 5.2% abv. This poured a dark black brown, slightly clearish. It smelled of light roasted malt, some espresso and a touch of vanilla extract. It tasted light, with a good chariness to it, toasted malts and roasted espresso. It had decent drinkability because it was such a light drinking beer. Hands down, the only decent one that is passable for Montieth's if you have to go there- which I advise that you don't.

Overall, there are MUCH better beers out there in New Zealand. Don't try their Radler or Summer Ale even if you were stuck on a dessert island and drink their Black Beer if there's nothing else decent to try.

Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest DrinkThe Beer BookMr. Beer Premium Edition Home Microbrewery System

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Zealand: Moa Brewing Co: Exceptionally Rare Beer

I also came upon Moa's beers in a wine speciality chain store called GlenGarry. I was looking for some interesting New Zealand beers to try as that was my only rule during my stay on the North Island: only drink the local beer. So when I saw Moa's beers on the shelf, with a cork and higher abv's than the rest, I thought I would give it a try. My only note of distain is that they were all in green bottle no less (shame on you guys- change the freaking bottle to brown! Otherwise they will be skunked-).

Their website says:
       A vision of Moa beer came to Josh Scott, winemaker for Allan Scott Family Winemakers...
What if he used his winemaking expertise to craft an exceptional quality beer?
The process starts off quite normally. Josh brews the beer using mainly local hops, malt, wheat or barley. Then he veers off the well-worn path. Josh bottles the beer, adds a dose of yeast and sugar and then seals the cap.
Just like champagne, the bubbles produced by this second fermentation are dissolved in the liquid. The result is a beer unlike any other — clear, exquisite, and bottle-fermented

We tried in order:
1-Moa's St Josephs Tripel-Belgian Style Tripel and 9.5% abv-Limited edition
2-Moa's 5 Hop Winter Ale- 6.2% abv- English style Extra Special Bitter/Strong Ale and limited edition
3-Moa's Harvest- 5.5%- fruit beer made with Nelson hops and cherries
4-Moa's Imperial Stout Barrel Reserve- 9.5% abv aged in Pinot Noir barrels and limited edition

St Josephs Tripel- This poured a cloudy caramel yellow. On the nose, you get flavors of sour lemons, slight spice, light caramel and very belgiany. It tasted: of a slightly sweet caramel, light spicy clove, yeast, belgiany, some dark fruits and some light citrus. It was extremely good and probably my favorite beer so far in New Zealand.

5 Hop Winter Ale- This poured a teak brown with a good, thick white head. It smelled of light sweet malts, hops, and some light tropical fruits. It tasted belgiany with some bitterness, candied sugar, malt, light grapefruit and light spice.

Harvest- This beer poured a golden yellow with a touch of white foam. It smelled of wheat, light fresh cherries and slight vanilla. It tasted light with some light cherries, slight banana, clove spices and wheat. Very drinkable and refreshing.

Imperial Stout Barrel Reserve- Yeah! Aged in Pinot Noir barrels! Someone is doing something comparable to what's going on here on the West Coast. I actually brought this one on the plane back home with me for my husband to try. The only problem with beers being bottle conditioned is that sometimes they explode. This one didn't quite explode on the way over, but it did leak due to pressure (the other bottles of Moa did not). It poured a dark brown black with an oatmeal cream head. It smelled of wine, chocolate, light vanilla, and big roasted malt. It tasted of dark espresso, fresh vanilla bean, toasted malt with some light tannins in there as well. It was super carbonated and not too bitter- very drinkable and very good. I am glad I brought another bottle home to age!

Overall, they are doing some good stuff over there and if you get a chance to go to the South Island of New Zealand you should definitely make a trip to their brewery! (If I ever get to the south island, I definitely will!) Keep up the good work Moa!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Zealand: Mac's does a good job disguising itself as a 'craft' brewery

Going into a New Zealand supermarket, one isn't quite hopeful to find any 'craft' beers. However, I found some beers on the shelf that had very clever packaging and extremely cute bottles. (Not that I am a sucker for packaging or anything). The bottles had rings on the top of the neck, which made for easy gripping and the bottle cap, you pull off and it pops off. Somebody needs to steal this design.

Anyways, Mac's beers are everywhere. I first noticed something was up when I saw one of their beers on the supermarket shelves: Mac's Light low alcohol beer and 1%! 1% people, now what's the point of drinking beer that's 1%? If you are on a diet, have 1 glass of really fantastic beer, not 10 of total crap 1% beers. I was so shocked, I had to take a photo.

Then there was their beer bar in Auckland. Totally done right- all vintage items pieces together and really comfortable and cool. It was a shame when I learned the true story about Mac's from the bartender there- Lion Brewery (the equivalent of a New Zealand Budweiser company and actually part of the Mitsubishi Group) had bought Mac's Brewery from a man named Terry McCashin who actually still owns the brewery but since August 2000, Lion has leased it and has in fact, already moved a big part of their production. I guess they saw how the 'craft' beer industry was booming so they decided to make some 'craft' beers and disguise them by being a cool, young, vintage-y feeling brewery only to trick us young folks that actually like good beer. It's a shame too because their whole package from the beer bars, brewery and beer packaging actually IS quite fantastic. I am actually surprised Budwesier or any of the big '3' have not developed this system yet.

Also, on a side note, Dave and I finally watched Beer Wars, which if you haven't seen it, you should AND you can stream it from your computer if you belong to Netflix. SO ridiculous how the big guys are just out to crush everything and every brewery in its sight. Yeah America. What the hell is wrong with our country? How do these people sleep at night? Oh yeah, under their billions and billions of dollars that keep themselves and their lobbists happy. BUT they also show at one point, an Organic Wild Hop Lager from Green Valley Brewing which is actually made and owned my Anheuser-Busch! It's completely disguised to look like a local craft beer with independant brewers. Disgusting!!!! Nowhere on the package does it say this. I demand more people! Hoegaarden as well! I'll be damned- I didn't even know that one! You can read a great article about this beer documentary here.

Anyways, back to Mac's Brewery and their beer.

1- Hop Rocker Pilsner- German style pilsner.-5% abv. Says: a superb golden pilsner heavily hopped with sauvin and cascade varieties giving it citrus aromas and a proper bitter finish. It poured a clear yellow with a slight Orangina hue. On the nose, you can actually smell a hint of hops and wheat. It tasted like a light wheat with a touch of citrus. I can see how people can easily drink this and think it's a 'craft' beer because of the touch of flavor, which is lacking in any mainstream corporate beer. However, I guess it's a gateway beer and hopefully it might open up people to the idea of flavor for their beer and they can keep trying others until they realize this stuff isn't that great. 

2- Great White- Belgian style whitbier  and 5% abv. The bottle says: a complex, cloudy Belgian witbier with banana, bubblegum and Turkish delight flavors leading to open discussion of rhubarb and custard, raspberry, aniseed, orange peel and coriander. Can you see why I picked it up? It poured a cloudy orangish hay color with a white head and good lacing. It smelled of definite pink bubblegum, typical banana and clove. It tasted very wheaty with coriander spice, strong orange peel and banana flavors. It was light and good to drink on the beach. However, I think the person who wrote the description on the bottle was smoking something else while it was written. Rhubarb? Raspberry? Custard? Did they mix 2 beers together? Absolute marketing scheme and I was a total sucker.

3- Sassy Red- English Bitter and 4.5% abv. The label says: a real favourite and Mac’s most awarded beer. A very hoppy bitter with loads of Saaz B and five different malts. All the flavour you can handle. (Don't you love how the English spell things like flavor?). It poured a copper red with a touch of a head and minimal lacing. It smelled of some light toffee notes, some berry,  and a touch of piney hops. It tasted crisp, with some berry fruitiness, with a good malty backbone that leaves a nice dry hop bitterness on your tongue. I actually liked it. Kudos for the name, plus I was with a sassy redhead, so it actually worked out quite well. (it actually got a B+ on BA)

4-Black Mac- English Brown Ale and 4.5% abv. Label says: newly reformulated, this chocolaty dark beer is rich in toasted malts and Hallertau hops. It poured a brownish black with an off white foamy heady. It smelled of light malts and some slight roasted flavors. It tasted of light coffee, slight caramel  and a faint bitterness on the finish. Good drinkability considering how light the actual flavor is.

Overall, don't be fooled by the large corporate breweries. Even though there is some slight flavors in the Sassy Red, and apparently they even make a beer called  Brewjolais -made with the season’s first green hops, and Mac’s Mojo, a unique espresso porter brewed with coffee beans from local roasters- Mojo. They are just trying to tap into the craft market for craft beers. I was even fooled. Let this be a lesson to all of you craft beer drinkers- be careful what you buy and never fool your taste buds. Oh yeah and go watch Beer Wars. It will change what you pick up top drink.

*** Also worth mentioning is that in the ladies bathroom,  a completely stereotypical statement in on the door talking to us 'women' like we are idiots and incapable of liking good beer.
On the door it states the following:
Some people think guys like girls who are frilly and girly. This isn't true. Guys like girls who know jujitsu. Want to impress a guy? Order a Black Mac. Cocktails won't do it. They're just the anaesthetics disguised as fruit juice. Besides, he may like the idea of buying you a drink but he won't want to shell out $15 for it. Tell him you want a Black Mac and he'll be awestruck and grateful and intimidated all at once. And sit there cracking your knuckles while you wait for him to come back with it.