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.


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