I may as well just be honest now – I was negative five, if you can be such an age, when Flying Nun formed in 1981. I wish I could talk about the good old days in Dunedin – wearing my leather jacket and listening to The Clean, The Chills, The Bats, and so on – but I was too busy, you know, being a baby at the time.
It doesn’t matter though, lots of other qualified music writers will be publishing pieces on Flying Nun at the moment so I can leave that to them. For those outside of NZ, you just need to know that Flying Nun is the most iconic, and probably most important music label in New Zealand, and this month it’s their 30 year anniversary.
For “Nunvember” (not the smoothest thing to say, is it?) Flying Nun teamed up with Epic to produce this commemorative beer, the 30 Year Ale. (I was worried when I saw that name. I thought it might be like Moa’s Ten Year Beer and require 30 years of cellaring. It doesn’t.)
The first thing I want to say about it is that the label is kick-ass – so kick-ass that I attempted to make the photo look nice for once – and was designed by a clever Auckland artist, Henrietta Harris. In case you can’t tell, it’s round (like a record baby), and the black part is actually ribbed a little, like real vinyl. Neat huh?
The aroma was, I think, a distinctly ‘Epicy’ one. By that I mean a medley of bright, punchy hops – a bit fruity, a bit floral, some citrus and herby notes, with a little malt softness underneath.
The first thing I noticed when I sipped it was how crisp it was. Very refreshing, very clean. The fruity hop flavours are there with a soft, sweet malt background – but it’s sort of restrained somehow, not intensely fruity like say, the Armageddon. The finish is bitter and dry, but not too bitter, just a little zing. Just enough.
Overall, I think this beer is exactly what it should be. A lot of people who buy it will probably be Flying Nun fans first and foremost, rather than regular Epic drinkers, and this is a nice way for Epic to say hello. It’s a hell of a lot more interesting than your stock-standard lager, but it’s not so hopped-up that it’s scary, if you know what I mean.
The regular Epic fans should enjoy it too. I’d love to drink this throughout the summer – but it won’t be around after November and I don’t think the three in my pantry will last long. In fact, I’ll probably just drink them all in succession on the next hot afternoon. (With food people, with food.)