This week I headed to Nelson (with a bunch of other brewers from around New Zealand) for the day (and night) for a visit to “The Hop Lab” at Plant & Food Research in Motueka. The focus was on the new 50 litre trial brew plant (manufactured by Chris Little Engineering) which is now being used to brew beers with the trial hop varieties to see if they show promise for brewing.
It was a good time of year to do this, as it is a week before the New Zealand Hop harvest begins. The plants have hops on them, the hop growers aren’t too busy to be able to spend the afternoon with the brewers.
I look forward to this becoming an annual event for the brewers and hop growers to catch up and have a chat over a beer. (without the full-page release form having to be signed to taste 90 mls)
Below is a photo gallery showing a bit of what happened. It’s a lot of hop photo, but that’s what I’m into.
Beers of Auckland Advent Calendar 2014 DAY 24 – Funkonnay by Hallertau
BOTTLE: Funkonnay BREWED: The Beer Fountain ABV: 6.7% IBU: 18
I wanted to finish with something special for the Advent Calendar. Steve (Hallertau) was kind enough to give me the 2012 and 2013 Funkonnay for today. Earlier in the year I had the privilege to try the 2012 Funkonnay on tap at the Malthouse thanks to Colin keeping a keg, in his secret cellar. It was amazing. One of the best beers experiences I’ve even had in New Zealand. Colin is one of the best publicans in New Zealand, not just because he keeps back the special stuff, but because he knows what his customers want, and delivers awesomeness on a regular basis.
I’m not sure how this beer changes in the bottle over time but the 2012 has more condition, ie CO2, and acid, than 2013, which means sourness. The 2013 is easier to drink. The only thing I can say from this is that both of these beers are very good, and possibly the best sour beers I’ve had in New Zealand. I would like someone to put a better sour beer made in New Zealand, in front of me.
I believe I have drunk some of the best sour beers in the world. Brussels, Santa Rosa, San Diego. All amazing. Hallertau are on par, world-class. Maybe not the most sour, but perfect for the market here. Steve Plowman is leading the way for New Zealand. If you can get a bottle of Funkonnay then get it. Drink it, cellar it.
The Beer Advent Calendar has been tough, partly because of the time of year, with time available, and what is happening within the Epic business. Busy also because it has been hard to get around all the Auckland breweries. I’m thinking that I’ll try to get that done over the coming weeks. It’ll be fun. There are beers and breweries I did’t get to try yet.
2015, I’d like to be fun for craft beer in Auckland. It has the most potential in New Zealand. The most new customers, the most potential bars. Craft Beer + Auckland = the biggest win for beer in New Zealand in 2015.
Beers of Auckland Advent Calendar 2014 DAY 23 – Stuntman IIPA by Hallertau
TAP + BOTTLE: Stuntman IIPA BREWED: The Beer Fountain ABV: 8.5% IBU: 90 HOPS: Lots and Lots
This is probably the first time I’ve had Stuntman IIPA in at least six months. Man it is tasting good. My memory of it was more full-bodied and a bit chewy. This batch is lean, clean, bitter and ready to kick some serious ass.
I only had a taste while having lunch at Hallertau today, but did bring home a bottle. Bottled in September, it has lost some hop aroma and flavour compared to the tap version but still a very serious beer.
As I taste my Hallertau from my Spiegelau IPA glass I start to think maybe it’s time that there should be a taste off with Stuntman IIPA, Citra and Hop Zombie, all Double/Imperial IPA’s. From Three of the Four Horsemen of the Hopcalypse.
Maybe at the release of the 2015 Four Horsemen of the Hopcalypse, would be a good opportunity to do this. Because that is just what a release party for a 12%abv beer needs, a tasting of with three beer that are 8.5%+abv.
Anyway, something to think about.
I had some lunch. Didn’t get the burger (I know I should have for comparison purposes) I got the Chicken Arms instead, because of the cool name and it was one item I haven’t tried on the current menu. As you would expect they were good. I haven’t ever had a bad food experience at Hallertau before. Always yummy (get the Jalapeno Poppers). Also it was just too hot to eat a big meal at lunch today. So hot in fact they installed a fan next to me while I ate. How considerate.
Cheers Steve. Always good to catch up for a beer, and Merry Christmas. Shame we live on opposite sides of the city, as it would be nice to share a beer more often.
Yes, I need to get my Gin reviews finished, and updated. I hope to do this over the holidays.
Beers of Auckland Advent Calendar 2014 DAY 8 – #3 by Hallertau
BOTTLE: Hallertau #3 BREWED: The Beer Fountain ABV: 4.2% IBU: 4 (I don’t actually know, but its pretty low) HOPS: not many, if any
I had this the other night at the Lumsden Freehouse, but decided not to write about it as I didn’t think I could be very positive about it. It was not that there was anything technically wrong with the beer, it was just so incredibly underwhelming.
It’s pretty much a version of a New Zealand Draught style beer. Which is incredibly underwhelming. It seems as though the big brewers perfected a commodity they called beer, and convinced several generation of men in New Zealand that this was what beer tastes like. Now men have forgotten what beer tastes like, and are scared to try real beer (currently referred to as #craftbeer . This term will revert back to beer at some point in the future, and what is referred to as beer now, will then be known as #industrialbeer ). Experiencing aroma and taste can be a real shock, but can also be very satisfying. That’s why you have those senses.
Well word got back to Stephen Plowman at Hallertau (thanks Joseph ;-)), and he dropped me a quick email today. The email basically said he agreed with my comments, and the beer is boring and doesn’t sell that well. The good news was that he has already redesigned the recipe, and will be brewing it soon. So expect some exciting changes to the #3. I’m looking forward to trying it.
As I think about how to track down Auckland brewed craft beer on tap I am finding it not as easy as I thought. Tonight I attended an event at The Lumsden and found that they have a South Island tap takeover. (pretty cool story. Evan the owner of the Lumsden Freehouse, headed to the South Island, rented a re-location Camper Van for $5 a day, and spent a week traveling around the South Island visiting craft breweries and picking up kegs, and putting them in the back of the camper van. The trip was called Lumsden to Lumsden. Check out their twitter, follow them if you aren’t. If you live in Auckland you should visit the Lumsden right now as there are beers from the South Island you won’t see in Auckland again on tap).
So I arrive and find there aren’t any beers on tap. Boo. (well boo for this Advent Calendar Boo, not for the cool selection of beers we don’t normally see here in Auckland). Next I check out the bottled beer list. All I see is Epic (I have this as back up beer for the days I really get stuck on the Advent Calendar), Liberty & Hallertau also, but it is my plan to visit them and drink from the Fountain. I am recommended Behemoth and Schippers but the bartender can’t confirm where the beer was brewed, and I said I need to know it is brewed in Auckland.
I am now digging deep, I nearly consider getting a Steinlager Pure (the 102 metre dive could be an interesting angle) but can’t bring myself to do it. I ask for a Boundary Road Brewery Flying Fortress, with a screwed up face and probably funny sounding voice. They say we sold the last bottle a couple of days of go. I have a big sigh of relief. I am still stuck though. Oh no, what am I going to do?? Damn it, I’ll have a Hallertau #3. This isn’t the beer I wanted to review from Hallertau. I made some notes, but my evening continued on. Not happy.
I caught up with heaps of great beer industry people. Including John Morawski and asked him what beers from Laughing Bones I could try and where I could try them. I was a little confused when I assumed his beers would be on at Brothers Beer where he brews his beer, but he said they don’t stock them. He did say that his beer would be on again at Sky Sports Grill in the next couple of days.
Dave Kurth from Hot Water Brewing Company was there and for some reason he was the lucky brewer tonight, as one of the South Island kegs ran out and his Kauri Pale Ale was put on and was tasting as good as I have ever tasted it. (quick get to the Lumsden ASAP to try some). It is always a pleasure to catch up with Dave, as I am assured of receiving some form of verbal abuse or teasing. (Love you Dave, and you make great beer, pity no one realises that yet)
Finally I catch up with Joseph Wood from Liberty Brewing Company, who turns up late. I was planning to head to Riverhead this evening to spectate at the Oyster 100 Club, but couldn’t bare driving out there and back to the Lumsden in the Auckland traffic. Joseph ate 101 Oyster in an hour and a half, and then drove to the city (with his lovely wife Christina). First thing I do is to run over and punch him in the guts. Yes he was in a distressed state and I believe he has actually eaten that many oysters. What a legend. Must also give a shout to The Plow, Dave Huff and Tom Madams from Cryer Malt, all of who ate 100 Oysters as well. Seems like an odd and difficult way to get a free tshirt. Eat $100 of oysters. Steve, you own the company, just buy a tshirt, and avoid the gastric distress. I am interested in hearing about how all four of you feel tomorrow morning.
OK, getting to the point of Day 3 of Beer of Auckland Advent Calendar. It was less than a perfect situation, so I have stretched my definition of Auckland, to Greater Auckland and included Whenuakite. Joe comes out (outside was a lovely evening with a moon getting close to full, slightly cool, a few clouds and the light getting low and dusky) with a can of the Hot Water Brewing Company 2014 Barley Wine. BOOM. That is the beer. (Cheers Joe for giving me the other half of the can)
CAN: 2014 Barley Wine (355ml, 12 oz, can. I don’t know why) BREWED: Hot Water Brewing Company ABV: 9.5% IBU: ?? HOPS: ?? AWARDS: Gold – 2014 NZ Beer Awards
Barley Wines are not that easy to make, and really hard to sell, especially in this country. Only a small handful of breweries make them. Dave made a couple of Barley Wines while brewing at West Coast Brewing Company, which were pretty nice. But he has really nailed it on this batch. I would call out that this is currently the best Barley Wine in New Zealand. (go on show me a better one. this did just win Gold).
Aroma is rich and malty, with a slight grain huskiness when cold but as it warms there is more caramel and toffee notes. The flavour is sweet but not cloying like some barley wines, notes of toffee and raisins, fruitiness, and barley sugars. The finish seems dry and light , with a bitter edge, but after a couple of mouthfuls this lighter finish actually makes the beer more drinkable than what one would expect from a Barley Wine.
So after a nearly traumatic evening not knowing what I was going to write about I ended up with a special treat, and even got to spend some time with the brewer. You never know what craft brewer you will meet in a craft beer bar in Auckland.
Thursday evening saw a quiet little beer launch at a place with no name on the door. Three of the Horsemen gathered for the 2014 release at Golden Dawn in Ponsonby. A handful of the craft beer purists turned up to taste the new batch
The 2014 return of the Four Horsemen of the Hopocalypse
Friday 24th January – Luke Nicholas, Kelly Ryan, Joe Wood, and Steve Plowman got together again to brew a batch of Hopocalypse. Below are a few moving pictures from the day. I will expand on these with some commentary and additional photos soon.