Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Zealand: Croucher Brewing

SO I have been away for the past 2 weeks, galavanting across the north island of New Zealand. I have been tasting a ton of beer along the way, along with an on air beer interview as well as a free helicopter ride. I finally am back in the States and sort of re-cooperated from the jet lag and ready to write about all the beers over there.

First up: Croucher Brewing Co in Rotorua, New Zealand

I got in touch with Nigel Gregory through a mutual friend from the states who said that they were doing some great beers over there- he wasn't wrong.

My friends and I found their brewing company in the back of an industrial area in Rotorua. We pulled up and Nigel Gregory and Paul Croucher dropped what they were doing to entertain us lady folk. They were both extremely nice and welcoming and went out of their way to have us sample some of the great beers they are creating over there besides the 3 types of beer that they bottle. We tried in order:

1-Czech Pilsner (they bottle this one)- a dry hopped pilsner and 5% abv. They use New Zealand Pacific Hallertau and Cascade hops to create this pilsner. It poured a light cloudy golden hay- orange with a bleach white head.  It had a fantastic hopped nose to it with tons of juicy fresh grapefruit, pine and some mango. It tasted light but with some bitterness, light biscuit, and grapefruit. It had a nice dry, bitter finish. Now I am not a fan of Pilsners, but I really enjoyed this one. I honestly think it was the best Pilsner I have ever had. It's not the run of the mill Pilsner style, which is why I like it- it actually has some interesting flavors.

2- The Hef (they also bottle this one and it's the beer I have Colin & Matt from 97.9 Kool FM try on the air). 5% abv. This poured a cloudy straw color and a light white head. It smelled of banana, clove, yeast and bubblegum. It tasted of banana bread with clove spices over some wheat/yeastiness with a hint of cereal/biscuit malt. Nothing out of the ordinary in this one, but a good standard hefeweizen to drink on a hot sunny day.

3-Pale Ale (the last one they bottle). American style pale ale brewed with Cascade hops and 5% abv.  This poured a cloudy orange rust shade. It smelled of: cascade hops, citrus, grapefruit and pine. It tasted a bit light with some citrus, grapefruit, grass and a light caramel malt finish. It was my least favorite of their beers- it was decent but it did not rock my world, but I am also hard to impress living in California and the land of fantastic craft beer.

4- Cherry Bock (not bottled)- 8% abv. This poured a cola brown with a touch of red highlights. It smelled of cherry cola, candied malt and a hint of vanilla. It tasted lightly sour (yum), caramel malts stewed cherries with a huge raspberry lingering finish. Very drinkable and a great example of some interesting brews they are cooking up over there.

5-Belgian Collaboration (not bottled)- collaboration with Epic Brewing - This poured a cloudy bright orange with a hint of sienna brown. It smelled of juicy peaches, light fresh grapes and sweet malt. It tasted of light grapes, vanilla and light caramel malts. It was not bitter, it was quite juicy but it lacked carbonation.

6- Vicar's Vice Forbidden Fruit (not bottled)- I got the chance to sample this beer at Galbraith's Alehouse in Auckland on draft.  It's a trappist style and 7% abv. It poured a yellow copper. It smelled belgiany with some stewed plums, dark fruits and some slight biscuit notes. It tasted belgiany with a light, sweet caramel, some toffee notes and a bit of stewed dark fruits. Again, another great innovative style that they are doing at Croucher.

After our trip to Rotorua, we went to Whangamata, New Zealand, where I was interviewed on the radio talking about beer. I had Colin & Matt, the radio interviewers try Croucher Brewing's The Hef on the air. Check out the broadcast here.

All in all, these guys are giving New Zealand what most of their beers lack- flavor. For an country that mainly drinks Lion Beer and English styles, they are doing some great innovative styles and giving New Zealand some actual flavors in their beer. I highly recommend you try their stuff.

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