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

Top 6 “Must Try” New Zealand Beers – 2009

With 50 small breweries in New Zealand there is a massive number of beers one must try to find the best the country makes. So if you are just starting your search for the best New Zealand beers, or someone just visiting New Zealand with limited time on your hands, here are the Top 6 “Must Try” New Zealand beers.

These beers are world class, coming from the most innovative and adventurous brewers in New Zealand. If you have the time, try the rest of the beers from these breweries you will be seriously satisfied. Actually this list probably lists the top 6 best breweries in New Zealand.

(Note: this list is based on the beer being available in bottle, also the ranking lists the beers based on availability (i.e. number of outlets it’s available in). It’s hard to list the great beers from brewpubs as they are only in one location, and batches vary, or are extremely small)

1. Epic Armageddon IPA – from the brewers of the Supreme Award winning Epic Pale Ale comes Armageddon IPA. This beer was inspired by a trip to San Diego in 2008, and drinking many of the mind blowing hoppy double and imperial IPA’s on offer. This beer breaks new ground for massive hop useage in New Zealand. Brewed using US grown Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial and Cascade, it’s a hop monster. In a country where most people don’t even understand what craft beer is, this beer is light years ahead of its time. If brewed on the West Coast of the USA, people would understand why. Its all about the hops. 6.66% alc/vol Buy Now

2. Invercargill Smokin Bishop – who would have thought that one of the most envelope pushing beers in New Zealand would come from the conservative south, and would be a big smokey Rauchbier style. This beer is all about the awesome huge smokey aroma and flavour. When people try this they are just blown away on every front, aroma, flavour, and the fact it is from New Zealand. Way to go Steve. Actually Invercargill Brewery is now coming of age and the whole range is very solid and well made, and each beer should be tried. 7.0% alc/vol Buy Now

3. Three Boys Oyster Stout – with actual Bluff oysters used in the brewing process, some even say they get a briny note. This beer is a glorious stout and one that should be hunted down and tried, and better yet if you can find it on tap. (inside tip, try Pomeroys in Christchruch for it on tap). As with the previous two beers, this is currently only a seasonal release, and as with what might happen to the above two also, the success and demand for these beers are likely to see the season available extended to all four seasons. There are some world class beer available in New Zealand. Buy Now

4. Mussel Inn Captain Cooker – first brewed by Captain Cook on his discovery of New Zealand, this beer uses freshly picked tips from the Manuka tree. This beer is amazingly floral and fragrant to the point you give it a double take, not actually believing that a beer could possibly smell like this. The intensity is only slightly less in the flavour, and is remarkably drinkable. Not only is this an incredibly flavourful beer but is uniquely New Zealand. It may even contain health benefits but you aren’t allow to imply that in relation to alcohol, but wasn’t that why Captain Cook used it in the first place? 4.0% alc/vol Buy Now

5. Hallertau Porter Noir – this is another beer inspired by the cutting edge of craft brewing on the planet – “beers with bugs”. If you get it, you get it, and I just don’t have room here to explain. This is a porter style beer aged for 4 months in oak barrels previously used for pinot noir wine, which is infected with Brettanomyces. Sounds pretty dumb to put beer in a barrel that is infected with spoilage organisms, but wait till you try this beer, WOW. This beer is complex, it goes beyond beer, with flavours from the wood, hints from the wine, and the additional fermentation from the Brett. which gives it a sourness. You have to try it. 6.6% alc/vol

6. The Twisted Hop Sauvin Pilsner – this is the best example of the use of New Zealand hops in a beer available in New Zealand. Many breweries here just miss the point, and either get the variety wrong and get it too grassy and harsh, or go the other way where it has too much passionfruit and tropical notes. The Sauvin Pilsner nails it. The hop aroma and flavour is still very prominent but the balance is awesome which is why this is a must try. Possibly best to try it on tap at The Twisted Hop. 5.0% alc/vol

Which is your “Must Try” New Zealand Beer – 2009(polls)

Of Tuataras and The Treasury

Reprinted from the Wellingtonian, my latest column titled “Hatching a new Tuatara“:

With the expansion completed, Carl is turning his formidable brewing brain to more new offerings and is planning some special big brews. These, he says, could include a stout, a “nice American Pale Ale” or a “big Belgian triple on the yeast, champagne corked and wired so it would age.”

This week I also ran a beer tasting for The Treasury:

It was in the hallowed halls of The Treasury that I ran my first ever beer tasting. The year was 2003 and the big worry then was bird flu rather than swine flu. How far we have come. It was attended by exactly eight people and around half the beers we tried that night are no longer brewed today. It was a very different event last night when twenty people sat down to a value for money buffet and, more importantly, to taste six New Zealand craft brews.

Beerly Tasting and the Winter Solstice

Last week I ran the second annual beer tasting for the Ministry for Culture and Heritage:

I made a mistake – the same mistake as last year. According to my carefully designed beer menu, I was running a tasting at the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. Such an august body does not exist and indeed never has in New Zealand. It is the Ministry for Culture and Heritage though in my defence even the former Prime Minister used to make the same mistake though she probably didn’t have it pointed out to her in the same way I did. Any insinuation that there is a Ministry of Culture and Heritage is erroneous, untrue and quite possible flocculent.

Last night I attended the launch of Mac’s new winter beer Solstice:

Mac’s Solstice is a five malt beer, fermented from a mix of Pale malt, Vienna malt, caramalt, Dark Crystal and Chocolate malt. The Hop component comes from southern Cross and Fuggles, while Horopito adds some mouth-warming clove and pepper aromas.

Beer tastings, so many beer tastings…

On friday night I ran a beer tasting for the good people at Telecom and the report and results are now up on the site:

The hardest aspect of last Friday’s beer tasting was finding the right building. There are five identical units on the site and I spent several awkward minutes in the wrong one. After locating the correct Telecom office, I had the chance to talk thirty enthusiastic punters through a selection of Kiwi craft beers and an iconic Belgian strong ale. One of the staff even produced some great food matches for the beers with his culinary feat made all the impressive by the fact he had to Google a few of the beers to because he’d never heard of them.

The night before I had run my third tasting at Thomson Reuters and the results are also in:

It is always a good sign when a company starts calling their beer tastings “an annual event.” Last Thursday I visited Thomson Reuters to run their third annual tasting session. As always, their questions and comments kept me on my toes as we worked through a selection of New Zealand craft beers and the traditional big Belgian closer. At the end of the evening the popular vote was very close with one beer making the podium for the very first time.

Beerly Writing – Winter Warmers and Beer Talk

The May Cellar Vate beer tasting looked at “Winter Warmers” in appropiately wintery conditions:

The theme of this beer tasting – Winter Warmers – was selected as the last vestiges of autumn still lay snugly over the Capital. By the time the anointed time arrived, the weather had conveniently provided a week of cold, gales and rain to really set the scene for a selection of darker, stronger, warming beers. Forty people tried a range of dark lagers, porters, stouts and dubbels in the Cabinet Room at the Backbencher.

Over at the Malthouse blog, the latest post, “Lets talk about beer“, looks at the subtle art of beer writing and Cooper’s Stout:

Liquor aficionado Frank Kelly Rich once penned a thoughtful piece on why beer appreciation (or “beer snobbery” as he called it) was superior in virtually every way to wine snobbery. Of course, Mr Rich considers anyone who drinks out of a glass rather than a furtive paper bag to be a bit of snob really. Fundamentally, he argued that beer snobs had it better because the dress code was more casual, there was no need to learn French and you could basically make everything up because no-one really knows what they are talking about when it comes to beer.

Glass Tips – The Backbencher and The Malthouse

Beerly Blogging – Waiter there’s an oyster in my beer

The latest Malthouse blog has a look at unusual ingredients in beer and Three Boys Oyster Stout. It is called “Waiter there’s an oyster in my beer“:

You can, technically, put pretty much anything into beer if you really want to. Off the top of my head I’ve had beers made with cherries, raspberries, peaches, plums, lemon, lime, pineapple, pumpkin, heather, rimu, spruce, elderberries, bog myrtle, coriander, cumin, thyme, lemongrass, chilli, honey, cinnamon, kawakawa, candy sugar, wheat, oats, rice, rye, peat smoked malt, chocolate, liquorice, coffee, caffeine, caramel, bourbon, whisky, wild yeast, guarana and Food Acid 330.

Of course, just because you are able to put an ingredient into a beer doesn’t mean that it is a necessarily a good idea.

Glass Tip – The Malthouse

Sunday Fun – English Beers, Pub Reviews and Moose Hunting

Things at the Real Beer Blog have been a bit quiet of late with Luke working in England, me being in Melbourne and Greig living in Hamilton. However, with the Impish Brewer back on board with 1,374 photos and 877 tweets about his brewing and quaffing exploits still to post, there should be a lot more activity here in coming weeks.

To kick things off, my latest Wellingtonian column looks at the unlamented demise of POD and the new Green Man pub which comes complete with moose shooting mayhem:

POD was a restaurant which never suffered from self-confidence issues but perhaps should have. It was pretentious without actually being any good and had so little atmosphere you may as well have been dining on the moon or, even worse, at Eden Park.

Finally, a write up of the recent Cellar Vate tasting of English beers where 4 proper English beers went up against 4 antipodean pretenders:

As much as it may pain us to admit it, New Zealand owes much of its beer culture and beer history to England. It was Englishman Captain James Cook who brewed the first beer in Australasia and for many years our breweries produced their own colonial takes on classic British beer styles.

Glass Tips – The Wellingtonian and Cellar Vate

Beer on a Monday Morning – Cellar Vate Tasting and the Porter Story

Regular tastings have resumed at Cellar-Vate with the first of this year called “The Best of the Best for 2008

The first Cellar Vate beer tasting of 2009 was the always coveted “Best of the Best” session. Forty-five tasters gathered to sample eight beers which were voted first or second in each of the eight tastings I ran last year. Our aim was to select the Cellar Vate Beer Tasting Club Champion Beer and Champion Brewery of 2008.

Over at the Malthouse blog, the latest post talks about beer and storytelling, the best beer story in the world and Tuatara Porter. It is called “The Porter Story“:

Beer and storytelling have a long, interwoven history. The ancient Sumerians, sipping their beer through long straws, probably whiled away the hours with exaggerated stories of hunting prowess and how they totally could conquer Egypt but just didn’t have the time these days. That tradition has continued unabated.

Glass Tip – The Malthouse Blog and Pete Brown’s Blog

Beerly Writing – The Final Round for 2008

From the latest issue of the Free Radical, here is my column on Lagers:

Michael Jackson, reminded even hardened ale drinkers that they should not be blinded to the qualities of good, traditional beer made by bottom fermentation. This is because bottom-fermenting yeasts produce a cleaner tasting, rounded beer. He asks (rhetorically) “which is better: a winey-tasting Lambic – a fruity, complex ale – or a clean, rounded lager? Assuming that the beer is good, my choice might depend upon the moment, my mood, and the place or time at which I was drinking the beer.”

This article was written in April but not published until December.

Much more recently, the Malthouse blog has the latest post on beers from Asia:

Beer in China can be incredibly cheap. We worked out that for one crate of beer bought from the corner mini-mart it was literally 28 cents for a 500ml bottle. You can forgive a few flaws at that price. The Malthouse stocks two fine Asian lagers though the price is somewhat higher than the Beijing markets. Of course, you can trying bargaining with the staff but I doubt the price will come down. It may even go up.