More tastings with a view and Tactical Nuclear Penguins

At another beer tasting with a view, the MSO Design tasting last week generated the most extraordinary results in years:

The usual vote was anything but usual. There was a clear winner on the first ballot but a record three beers were initially tied for second. A further run-off vote failed to separate them with the beers again tied. The only option was to declare all three tied for second place – a first in over five years of these tasting sessions.

Delightfully deranged Scottish brewers BrewDog have claimed the world record for strongest beer with their new 32% leviathan Tactical Nuclear Penguin. The full release (including authenication of alcoholic strength is on their website:

The Antarctic name inducing schizophrenia of this uber-imperial stout originates from the amount of time it spent exposed to extreme cold. This beer began life as a 10% imperial stout 18 months ago. The beer was aged for 8 months in an Isle of Arran whisky cask and 8 months in an Islay cask making it our first double cask aged beer. After an intense 16 month, the final stages took a ground breaking approach by storing the beer at -20 degrees for three weeks to get it to 32%.

Beerly Tasting – Telecom and DesignX

One of the highlights of last week was a big, energetic tasting at Telecom:

It was a tasting that had pretty much everything: a full range of New Zealand craft beers, over 40 eager participants, a giant plastic pager advertising the event, excellent food matches for every beer from “Iron Chef Jonno”, a close popular vote and, of course, a guy in a full lion suit called “Mr Lion Brown” who had a bottle opener attached to his tail.

Last night I had the chance to run a fun little tasting for a ‘book club with a view’ which was organised by DesignX:

High in the hills of Northland (the Wellington suburb rather than the northern most region of New Zealand) I ran a beer tasting for a “book club”. Like most “book clubs” around the country, there was no reading involved but there was a lot of banter and good humour. It was hosted and organised by innovative web design company DesignX. The intention was to sample an introductory range of New Zealand craft beers, enjoy some snacks and marvel at one of the best panoramic views I’ve had at a tasting.

Glass Tip – Centre City Wines and Spirits for the supplies

Beer Haiku Friday and Tasting at the Backbencher

Beer Haiku Friday exposes the best way to watch the fireworks with a poem called, unsurprisingly, “Fireworks“:

at my secret spot
with a wagon full of beer
watching fireworks

The October Backbencher beer tasting had the theme “Best of Brew NZ“:

The October Backbencher beer tasting had a “Best of Brew NZ” theme. A number of senior MPs were spotted in the immediate vicinity though they were probably present for the filming of “Backbenchers” (TVNZ 7) rather than the beer. There were over 370 entries in this year’s Brew NZ Beer Awards and only 23% of them received medals. This month’s selection showcased a range of medal winning beers accompanied by some fine food matches from the kitchen.

Glass Tips – Beer Haiku Daily and Backbencher

Beerly Tasting – Stats and Met Service

Here is the report from the recent tasting at Statistics NZ:

Over the years, Statistics New Zealand has been one of my most regular and favourite beer tasting clients. Last night, I ran my seventh tasting for their staff club. As usual, it was raining. That did not deter thirty two participants who seemed to enjoy trying a range of Kiwi craft beers. The offerings included some of the last Smokin’Bishop in the city. This year’s Three Boys Golden was also making its first appearance at one of my sessions.

That same busy week, I ran my first tasting up at the Met Service:

Last night I ran a beer tasting for the social club up at the Met Service. The venue was perched at the very top of the Kelburn hills and the room was filled with over 30 eager participants. I put together an introductory menu but it was only much later that it was (correctly) suggested to me that including Dux de Lux Nor’ Wester Pale Ale or Sou’ Wester Stout would have been both appropriate and tasty. However, this event did give me the chance to list my Facebook status as “off to run a beer tasting at the Met Service. The forecast is for ale storms.”

The results of the popular vote each night are in the reports.

Boysenbeery beer back for summer season

Invercargill Brewery’s award-winning Boysenbeery beer is back on the menu.

The colour of fine claret, Boysenbeery pours with a frothy pink head and is styled in the finest traditions of Belgium fruit beers. Its strong colour and flavor is all natural.

“We don’t use colouring or perfumes in any of our products. The art to brewing is seeing what you can achieve by using malt, hops and yeast and the brew process itself,” head brewer Steve Nally said.

“When we do use additional flavours they’re 100 percent natural too – like orange peel, Kamahi honey, herbs, spices and naturally reduced fruit concentrate – nothing that comes out of a chemistry lab.”

Boysenbeery gets its strong flavor and colour from fruit concentrate – each batch contains the equivalent of 15% berry by volume, more fruit than many branded fruit drinks sold in NZ.

Full Story

Beer Haiku Monday and the People’s Blog Part Deux

While the seasons are wrong for this hemisphere, the poem still resonates. It is called “Winterizing“:

Taking the sails down
could go quicker without beer
but what fun is that

Over at Malthouse blog, the popular People’s blog returns with two more guest columnists and some considered reflections on bloggers and blogging. It is titled “The People’s Blog Part Deux“:

Ten years later, even hardened net geeks are giving up on trying to figure out how many blogs there really are. The answer is well over 100 million, almost certainly a lot, lot more. Blogging is not just for pyjama-clad Generation Xer’s who live in their parents basement anymore (though they are certainly still well represented on-line.) Now, rock stars blog. Beer writers blog. Businesses blog. Scientists blog. Even politicians blog.

Glass Tips – Beer Haiku Daily and Malthouse Blog

Putting Beer in Context and A Tasting Report

From the Malthouse blog, a post on “Beer in its proper context” which covers why Fiji Bitter tastes better in Fiji, (Sir) Jeremy Clarkson on Chinese beer and details of the new beers coming on tap in October (including the debut from Golden Ticket):

The thing is, it was exactly the same (awful) beer but they were also quite right that it tasted much better in Fiji. Why precisely that was the case quickly became clear when I enquired about how they drank the beer in Fiji. Essentially, they all drank ice-cold Fiji Bitter in the hot sun, by the pool, relaxing on holiday while being waited on by someone young, attractive and largely naked.

In contrast, the Fiji Bitter they had in Wellington was served cool-ish, the rain was lashing against the spartan meeting room’s windows, it had been a busy working week and the beer was being served by a husky chap in a Hawaiian shirt. It is all about context.

Last week I braved blizzards and public transport to run a beer tasting out at Wallaceville:

I ran my first beer tasting in Upper Hutt last week. It was for the Social Society out at the biosecurity complex in Wallaceville and it turned out to be a great night despite Wellington producing some of the worst weather of the year. What happened to spring and global warming Mr Gore? Anyway, the idea was to offer up an introductory selection of New Zealand craft beer to an audience which contained more than one person who initially thought they ‘didn’t like beer.’

Beer Awards and Beer Tasting

The biggest week on the New Zealand beer calendar is over. The BrewNZ Beer Awards attracted a record number of entries while Beervana attracted a record number of attendees. The winners were honoured at the awards dinner last Thursday and the full results are now up on the Brewer’s Guild website. The highlight of the evening was Emerson’s Brewing Company being crowned Champion Brewery 2009.

Pre-Beervana, I had the pleasure of running a beer tasting for the diplomatic folks at MFAT:

The role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been occasionally described by outsiders as ‘drinking for one’s country.’ It was therefore slightly surprising that it had been a couple of years since I had last run a beer tasting session for the MFAT social club. The organiser of the previous event is, rather ironically, now posted to a completely dry country though I’m sure there is no causal relationship.

Finally, to the hundreds of correspondents who almost over-loaded the Real Beer server with emails wanting to know what happened to Beer Haiku Friday, you will be pleased to learn that normal service will resume this week.

Beer Haiku Friday and A Beer Tasting

This Haiku combines ribs and beer which is more than enough to get it selected for today’s Beer Haiku Friday. It is titled “To-do List“:

As ribs cook slowly
The only thing left for me
Is to drink this beer

A full report from the MAF Beer Tasting:

This week I had the opportunity to run a beer tasting at the head office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. I brought a range of New Zealand craft beer and they provided gourmet pizzas and assorted chippies. It was a perfect match really. Filled with policy analysts, scientists and even someone who had studied brewing, it was a knowledgeable crowd with some great questions.

Glass Tip – The fine fellows at Beer Haiku Daily

The oldest pub in the nation and the beer of the people

From the Wellingtonian, my article on the “trouble brewing over the oldest pub claim“:

It is an article of faith for Wellingtonians that the Thistle Inn on Mulgrave Street is the oldest pub in the country. After all, it was built way back in 1840 and, until the harbour was reclaimed in 1876, sat right on the shoreline. The Thistle has poured pints for parched sailors, sundry Governor-Generals and, according to legend, Te Rauparaha himself.

Over at the Malthouse blog, in the spirit of true blogging we throw the floor open to real people (and accountants) for their take on the best beers in the fridge. Welcome to the first “People’s Blog“:

A conveniently unknown author once wrote that “a blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list.” Blogs can polarise readers perhaps more than any other medium. John Jay Hooker, veteran political gadfly, is on record as saying “I sincerely believe blogging can save America.” National Business Review publisher Barry Coleman does not believe it will even save New Zealand.

Finally, I love this sign spotted recently outside Hope Bros in Wellington: “Urgent! Customers needed. No experience needed. Apply within.”

Glass Tip for the sign – Peter McCaffery