Last week I had the privilege of hiding from a chilly Wellington southerly in the warmth of the Regional Wines and Spirits tasting room. It was warm when we arrived but it was about to really heat up. Geoff Griggs chaired the evening, as Richard Emerson presented a tasting full of rare treats.
A Richard Emerson tasting is always a feast for the senses and this one was the tastiest treat yet. Pondering the line-up below makes me want to revisit the evening again and again:
- Maris Gold (4.5%) – the hoppy standard; a lovely palate cleanser to get things underway.
- Weissbier (5.0%) – so fresh, and much softer than I’ve ever tasted it.
- Dunkel Weissbier (6.3%) – at long last the return of an old favourite; caramelised banana on the nose, spicy and tart in the mouth.
- Pandora’s Box (9.3%) – the brain numbing begins with this warming dunkel (a triple dunkel?).
- Old 95 2006 (7.0%) – fresh and floral, with juicy malt, biting hops and a slight earthy element.
- Old 95 2004 (7.0%) – brighter, sherry-like, drier and more rounded in the mouth.
- ‘Old Dick’ 2003 (8.4%) – like a cross between the ’04 and ‘06 vintages but warmer and breadier.
- Bourbon Porter (9.3%) – already well-aged and unbelievably drinkable. Dangerous!
The Dunkel and the Porter, alongside the normal range, will soon be available at Ragional’s. Don’t miss out. The Pandora’s Box and Old Dick are playthings from the brewhouse, treats for those of us who were lucky enough to sneak a ticket (the room could have been filled several times over).
Richard’s quick wit and frankness make for a good evening. He’s never one to miss a chance to joke and he keeps very few brewing secrets up his sleeve (discussing grain bills, mash temps and hop additions quite openly, though keeping one secret “spice” out of his Taieri George description). Unsurprisingly it becomes more and more boisterous as we work our way through the tasting. Geoff Griggs allows conversation to flow, while settling it all down at the right times.
During a final few words Richard lavished particular praise upon Invercargill’s Steve Nally, as a young NZ brewer to watch out for, while also mentioning most of the usual suspects of the craft brewing industry (i.e. most of BrewNZ’s gold medallists from the last couple of years).
Geoff Griggs ended the evening by asking for a round of applause for one of the brightest stars in the New Zealand brewing industry. A bright star on the world brewing industry, I say. The ratings and praises at the knowledgeable beer community Ratebeer would tend to agree with me.