Last week, Michael Donaldson – who is the Dep Ed of the SST and author of the brand new NZ beer bible “Beer Nation” – asked me to submit a Top 10 list for his beer column.
This sent me into a bit of a frenzy, because how on earth could I even define ‘top’ let alone choose 10 beers to fill each precious slot? Did I pick the most delicious, the most interesting, or the beers I would drink the most often? Probably I was overthinking it, but this is the kind of stuff that keeps me awake at night.
In the end, I decided to narrow things down by choosing only New Zealand beers that would be commercially available at the time of print. I tried to pick my favourite example of 10 different styles – although I couldn’t choose between Bookie and Bob’s so ended up with two bitters.
After I submitted the copy to Michael, I would constantly fret about breweries that should have been on there (8 Wired for example, Croucher, Liberty… take your pick), but obviously I couldn’t include everything. Besides – I have no regrets about the 10 fantastic beers that did make it on the list, which I present without further adu…
(Actually one more bit of adu to point out these are in alphabetical order. To have actually tried to rank them would have given me a hernia.)
Emerson’s Bookbinder (Bitter)
Easily my favourite “session” beer, Bookie’s gentle citrus hops and soft pillowy malts hit the spot every time. If I had to choose one beer to spend the rest of my life with, Bookbinder would be it.
Epic Hop Zombie (IIPA)
With its huge tropical fruit aromas and juicy malt sweetness, Hop Zombie’s recent disappearance from the shelves was much worse than Marmageddon. Like any good Zombie it’s back, however, and is still one of the most delicious beers in town.
Galbraith’s ‘Bob Hudson’s Bitter’
An ideal winter’s day would be spent at Galbraith’s Alehouse, drinking Bob’s on handpull and playing Scrabble. It tastes like an English Orchard as is only 4% – so you can drink a few pints and still spell the long words.
Hallertau ‘Funkonnay’ (Sour Ale)
When I started this project I’d never heard of sour beer, but now I’m completely hooked. Hallertau make New Zealand’s only current version, and it’s the most weird and wonderful beer on the shelves right now.
Harrington’s ‘Anvil’ (Pilsner)
Like the forever-struggling metal band it was named after, this is a beer that deserves more fame. Luscious fruit aromas and mouth-filling caramel malt make the Anvil my favourite New Zealand pilsner.
Invercargill Brewery ‘Smokin’ Bishop’ (Smoked Bock)
All smoked beers make me weak at the knees, but none so much as the Smokin’ Bishop. With firm sweet malt and meaty campfire flavours, I’d get my bacon fix here if I ever turned vegetarian.
The Mussel Inn ‘Golden Goose’ (Lager)
I thought all golden lagers were variations on Heineken, and then I tried the Golden Goose. Zesty citrus hops, mouth-filling honey malt and a crisp finish that keeps you thirsty for more – New Zealand’s best lager by a mile.
Twisted Hop – Red Zone Enigma (Barley Wine)
Still in the tank when the February earthquake hit, Enigma was trapped in Christchurch’s cordoned-off red zone for six months. It spent that time secretly developing layers of toffee malt, cherries and dried fruit, and had become an outstanding beer by the time it was rescued.
Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black (Black IPA)
This is simply my favourite black beer. This is partly for sentimental reasons (PKB set me on my path of craft beer writing), and partly because it tastes like jaffa cake in a glass.
Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta
Gorgeous, exotic and incredibly clever – if Gunnamatta was a woman I would probably hate her. Earl Grey tea gives this beer an intense floral and citrus perfume, while NZ hops lend fruit and gentle bitterness. It may only be July, but I’m calling this is my beer of 2012.
Thanks very much to Michael for letting me hijack his column. Everybody should come along to O’Carrolls tomorrow night for the launch of his new book, complete with a matching beer by Epic!