Hits and Misses in the World of Beer

This new feature will discuss some of the big and not-so-big issues in the beer scene and provide a positive spin (hit) and a negative interpretation (miss) for each. There is a vague intention that this will be a fortnightly column but the chances of that actually happening are about the same as Parekura Horomia taking up parkour. The links in the column will generally be worth a click too…

HIT: My guests round watching Wellington win the Ranfurly Shield from Auckland each bought Tuatara beers.
MISS: My guests round watching Wellington win the Ranfurly Shield from Auckland each drank Tuatara straight out of the bottle.

HIT: Going away drinks for Mac’s Head Brewer Colin Paige.
MISS: The fact that Mac’s Head Brewer Colin Paige is going away.

HIT: The Corona foosball ball table at Mac’s Bar 22 where one team is little bottles and the other team are little limes.
MISS: I don’t have one yet.

HIT: The Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle will be the next guest beer at D4 in Wellington. Pot Kettle was won the random draw which will be used to select future guest beers (within reason – no Leon Rouge for example.)
MISS: D4 owner Dermot can persuade leprechauns to start fights with Mike Tyson but even he is struggling to convince people that it really was a random draw.

HIT: Epic Pale Ale is now in 500ml bottles.
MISS: I don’t have one yet.

Beer – The only known cure for a case of the “Mondays”

Here is the full report on the latest tasting session at the Backbencher:

The theme for the September session of the Cellar-Vate beer tasting club was the unique “Dark and Ducky.” This moniker was devised to cover a combination of dark beers and the bottled range from the Dux de Lux. The 50 people in attendance had the Dux beers presented to them by the legendary Dick Fyfe. Given Dux de Lux means “masters of the finest”, I speculated in spectacularly poor Latin that this would make Dick the Dux de Dux de Lux – the master of the masters of the finest. I doubt it will catch on and it would never fit on his business card in any case.

Next, the first ever beer tasting event at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage:

On Friday night, I had the chance to run a fun little beer tasting at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage (who I accidentally called the Ministry of Culture and Heritage on the tasting menu and was immediately chastised. You never stop learning in this job.)

Finally, a write up in the Herald of a recent boutique beer tour:

Miller – a beer writer and expert who knows everything you could about beer as well as anyone who matters in the Wellington bar scene – is great company. He must be the only person I’ve met who carries around hops and barley in his bag.

In my defence, I usually only have hops and barley in my bag when I’m running a tour or a tasting!

September Salient Points

This Salient magazine column casts an Eye Over the Monteith’s Beer and Wild Food Challenge results:

Over at the Southern Cross, their wild boar loin was guarded by a “jelly which will stare you down.” Like a scene from Lord of the Rings, the plate was crowned by a single all-knowing sheep’s eye encased in Pilsner jelly. Suspending the eyeball exactly in the middle of the Pilsner cube is apparently no mean culinary feat. There may well be a thesis in there for a science student with a particular interest in jelly.

Next, an in-depth look at Beer and Politics in the most intelligent electorate in the country:

Politics and beer go together like VUWSA and financial mismanagement. With the general election approaching, it seemed timely to put the genuinely tough questions to the candidates standing for Wellington Central. This column is not distracted by peripheral issues like tax cuts, mysterious trusts or secret agendas. No, the key issue is what beer the candidates like and where they like to drink it.

Lastly, a glimpse of the Beers of Asia:

An unkind critic once claimed that saying that your country’s beers were better than Japanese beer was like saying your country’s food was better than English food. That is a tad unfair. The Japanese do make very drinkable pale lagers and many of them reach our shores (albeit with hefty price tags).

Beerly Writing – July

From the pages of The Wellingtonian newspaper, a column on beer at the Wellington food show:

Once through the gates, the first question facing every attendee at the Food Show is “left or right?” My decision to go left was immediately vindicated as virtually the first stall I saw was the Epic Brewing Company from Auckland. The impish brewer Luke Nicholas was handing out samples of his crisp Epic Lager and massively hopped Epic Pale Ale to big and appreciative crowds.

From The Salient, a short but intense look at stupid beers:

While many students live by the creed that the best beer in the world is the one right in front of them (preferably that someone else paid for), there are some beers which are simply stupider than Paul Holmes in a burka.

Finally for this update, The Salient column on dark beers:

A surprising number of people have absolutely no idea how beers get a dark colour. Depressingly, the majority seem to think that artificial colour is simply added at some specified point in the brewing process and – hey presto – instant dark beer. Tragically, that is precisely how a couple of breweries do it.

Beer and Food Match of the Month: Proper French Roquefort cheese and Invercargill Smokin Bishop – magic.

Beerly Writing and Beerly Tasting

The latest column from the Wellingtonian newspaper looks at some of the beers that didn’t make it.

New beers continue to spring up to take their place and the overall selection for consumers is steadily growing. That does not stop me occasionally pausing to raise a glass to some of those beers which didn’t make it.

In the Free Radical, an article on beer and food including a recipe from that annoying guy who hosts the otherwise excellent Iron Chef:

It is unclear exactly when New Zealander’s decided that pouring a bottle of wine into a stew was classy but using a cup of ale in a sauce was not. Certainly, the Belgian, Germans and French would laugh at our notion that only wine could be used as an ingredient when cooking. When the Germans are laughing at you then it is clear you have a problem.

Finally, a full report from the All Hail Pale Ale tasting at Cellar Vate which featured two guest presenters.

The voting was briefly interrupted by an unscheduled appearance from Rodney Hide MP who was in the building for a television show. While seemingly baffled by proceedings, he was adamant that everyone in the room had to vote for Act.

Long Weekend Beerly Reading

The Southern Cross Tavern is a striking example of the change in attitudes to drinking and beer in New Zealand. This article – reprinted with the kind permission of the Wellingtonian newspaper – charts the evolution from booze barn to beer bar:

In my first year of university, the Southern Cross Tavern was a drinking establishment of near mythical stature. Virtually every day, a line of hopeful, nervous students would queue up to the door hoping to partake of $2 jugs of Lion Brown, complete the epic ‘Round the World’ beer challenge or even endure the exquisite horror of the ‘bladder buster’ – cheap drinks until some unlucky person went to the bathroom.

The Salient Beer Column returns for 2008 and the first column can be read here:

“Beer” and “university” go together as naturally as “essay” and “leaving it to the last minute.”

The second column details the various beers and bars which continue to vex me – My Beer Nemeses if you will:

My first real Beer Nemesis was the lamentable range of Fruit Hopper beers. Many gentle readers will be too young to recall these beers (at least legally), but they were generic lagers mixed with what tasted very much like different flavours of Raro and then over-carbonated in a Soda Stream machine. Shortly after a press release went out extolling their strong sales, they were quietly taken off the market and possibly re-released as Lift Plus.

NZ brewer going it alone

One of New Zealand’s top beer brewers is going it alone. Multi-award winner Luke Nicholas has bought the Epic Brewing Company and with it the Epic brand, from his now former employer the Steam Brewing Company.

Nicholas is planning to take Epic worldwide, after it won best in class at last year’s BrewNZ International Beer Awards. It also claimed a silver medal this year, behind another of his beers, Monk’s Habit, a Steam Brewing Company product. Epic Mayhem was awarded bronze.

Nicholas says he will be taking Epic to the world in measured steps. The first is the launch of Epic Lager in February next year.

Full Story
Newstalk ZB
NZ Herald

The Best of New Zealand – Epic Pale Ale – Best Beer

We have so much to be proud of in New Zealand, but you might be forgiven sometimes for thinking that our main pastoral industry was tall-poppy lopping. So here, with a wide-ranging but by no means exhaustive list, the Listener happily celebrates the best of New Zealand – and invites you, the reader, to celebrate, too, with your own contributions.

The full text of this article appears in the NZ Listener
(August 4-10 2007), on sale now.

The full text will be available online on Aug 25, 2007.

See the comments about Best Beer – Epic Pale Ale

Best thing to happen to Beer in NZ this year

The Malthouse in Wellington has recently opened in its new location at 48 Courtney Place.

They have really kicked beer up a notch for New Zealand. Beyond the excellent selection of beers on tap and massive selection of beer in the fridges which run at 3 different temperatures they have food.

The selection for food is limited but is awesome. Especially the tasting trays (see picture below). This particular tasting tray is called Carnivore (they also have 2 other tasting trays called Seafood & Vegetarian each priced at $22) Plus a selection of chesses matched, and selection of daily deserts matched.

Carnivore includes:

* Tender lamb pieces on rosemary skewers w/mint ginger raita – matched with MONK’S HABIT

* Cajun corn feed chicken pieces w/manuka honey, feijoa and orange zest aioli – matched with EPIC PALE ALE

* Smoked fillet of beef with watercress, shaved parmesan and tamarillo chutney – matched with GISBORNE GOLD

* Wild rice and pistachio crusted pork fillet with sauteed apples – matched with TUATARA ARDENNES

I’d suggest getting down to The Malthouse and getting amongst the beer and food. So many beers to try so little time.