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.’

Must be Awards season…

Every year, the Capital Times asks readers to vote in their extensive “Best of Wellington” survey. Obviously, there are some rogue results (Blanket Man described as a character again) but the beer related placings were:

Best Beer Brand
1. Tuatara (3rd last year)
2. Monteiths (2nd)
3. Emerson’s (-)

Best Bar

1. Mighty Mighty (1st)
2. Matterhorn (2nd)
3. Goodluck (3rd)

Best Outdoor Bar

1. Southern Cross (1st)
2. St Johns (2nd)
3. Matterhorn (3rd)

Also out recently are the finalists for the HANZ Awards which make slightly depressing reading for beer fans:

Best Bar

Four Kings, Wellington
Frederic’s, New Plymouth
Sale Street, Freemans Bay, Auckland
Soul Bar and Bistro, Auckland

Best Sports Bar

Four Kings, Wellington
Grosvenor Hotel, Timaru
The Right Track Sports Cafe, Auckland
The Tote Pub & Super Liquor, Trentham, Upper Hutt

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

High on hops: Pale Ales

About a year and a half ago I discovered real beer. Not this cold, wet, tasteless swill that pretends to be beer. But real beer that tastes of malt and hops – or in the beers I tend to like hops, hops and more hops. I’m a hophead. And that’s why I love Pale Ales. Originally the term Pale Ale meant any ale (as opposed to lager) that was lighter in colour but over the last few years it has shrunk to define a subset of beer styles that share three characteristics – moderate alcohol levels (from about 5%), a pale colour ranging from amber to copper and noticeable hop flavour profile.

Full Story

Beerly Tasting – Lawyers and Belgians

Last Friday I ran an introductory beer tasting at DLA Phillips Fox:

As a warm up to the successful Wellington Ranfurly Shield defence against Otago, I had the chance to run a beer tasting for staff and clients of one of Wellington’s big law firms, DLA Phillips Fox. It was an introductory beer selection which was accompanied by an impressive amount of food including paua fritters, chicken wings and ribs. One corner of the table had a big pile of bones which made it look like the Flintstones had dropped in to try some brews.

The July tradition continues with the annual Belgian Beer Tasting at the Backbencher:

July 21 is Nationale Feestdag. This is, of course, the National Day of Belgium and it celebrates the 178th anniversary of the coronation of King Leopold I. I suspect everyone already knew that. He is not still there obviously but I suspect everyone knew that too. More than just a chance to toast the Belgian monarchy, it is an excuse to settle down and sample some of the very best beers from the land sometimes called “the paradise of beer.”

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.

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.

Tuatara refutes the decline of the Global Economy and a Tasting

From the Malthouse blog, an update on the speedy evolution of Tuatara Brewery and some political jokes in “Tuatara refutes the decline of the Global Economy“:

This means that, theoretically speaking, a mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex (if they still existed, which they don’t) could today go to a Police line-up and easily recognise a humble Tuatara (if the Tuatara had done something illegal, which seems unlikely). The Tuatara is, in many ways, an eloquent rebuttal to the old adage “evolve or die” having seen many of its proudly evolutionary colleagues completely disappear (The Moa, The Dodo, Georgie Pie and the Progressive Party to name but four).

Continuing the economic theme, over at Real Beer NZ there is a report from my latest tasting at Baldwins:

One of the lesser-known economic side-effects of the global recession is a growing interest in corporate beer tastings as a social event which is both different and doesn’t break the bank. On Friday, I ran a one-hour tasting for twenty five people at Baldwin’s law firm in central Wellington. It was an introductory style tasting menu with all the beers receiving good support.

Glass Tip – PJ O’Rourke for the title.