Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me

Bruce Holloway, via the medium of the Waikato Times, tells us that the long awaited Shunters Yard Brewery in Matangi near Hamilton is almost up to full steam.

“Midnight Special, a five per cent porter-style ale, is now on sale at Piko’s Cafe in Woodside Rd, Matangi, just a bottle’s throw from where it is brewed at the back of Robinson’s Sports Museum.”

Not a lot is said about the beer itself, but I for one will be sampling it this weekend. Got to support those local brewers!

Edit: Been there, drunk that.

Midnight special is a pretty impressive first effort from this new brewery. Unfortunately presented in the “good kiwi bloke” handle, not exactly showing it off, it still managed to excite me.

The beer is a deep dark brown, with mahogany highlights. The head is soft beige, but quickly fades away to a light scattering of surface bubbles. On the nose, there are hints of toffee, freshly turned earth, and a hint of cookie dough. A deep draught reveals a good solid mouthfeel, coating and weighty on the palate. Quite a change from many mainstream Kiwi “dark beers”, which are all colour and no weight.

The flavours are more subtle than I expected, and take some exploring. Sweet malts dominate, but are not overpowering, as they are reigned in by a solid hop bitterness and a pleasant earthiness from the hops – very English, possibly Fuggles or East Kent Goldings. A little bit of astringency is present, and this detracts slightly from the overall smooth creamy impression, but as you start to notice this, you also notice a quite interesting salty/minerally taste come through at the finish, which might be an acquired taste, but for me added plenty of interest. This might be from the famed local water, which (the blurb on the menu claims) has performed such wonders as powering Dick Quax to Olympic gold!

Hyperbole aside, it’s not a style of beer I enjoy a lot, but I sure enjoyed this stout. Try it at Piko Cafe. The service is friendly, though a little lacking in beer knowledge. I’m sure this will improve. The food is great also – the steak and ale pie married the beer perfectly. I’ll be looking forward to their next beer…