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.

1 comment:

  1. You are in Auckland? Head to Brew on Quay in the city and try the Epic Pale Ale on tap