#198 Twisted Hop – Red Zone Enigma

Name: Red Zone Enigma
Brewery: The Twisted Hop (Chch, NZ)
Style: Barley Wine
ABV: 10.5%
Source: Regional Wines (Wgtn)

As always I’m a few days behind on my posting, but this is the beer that I drank last Wednesday – the first anniversary of the Christchurch Earthquake.

While drinking a beer (especially this one) seems far too enjoyable a way to commemorate an earthquake, it seemed like the best time to tell the neat little story that goes with this one.

The Twisted Hop’s Barley wine was conditioning when the February earthquake struck. While the building and the people working in it were relatively unharmed, the brewery was inside the cordoned off’ ‘red zone’ and would be inaccessible for six months.

When the brewers were eventually able to get back into the building and rescue their neglected Barley Wine, they found the extra six months in the tank had done all sorts of wonderful things to it. They named it ‘Red Zone Enigma’ and bottled it for sale.

And guess what? It is FRICKEN delicious!! Not to detract from the serious tone of this post and go overboard with exclamation marks or anything… But Oh! My! God!

On the one hand it’s very complex – on the other it’s just plain yum. It tastes to me like chewy toffee, cherries, grapefruit, treacle and raisins… God I’m getting so hungry just writing about it. In the mouth it starts off all sweet and rich and delicious, but then about halfway through the hops kick in, cutting through with a fruity bitterness and leading to  a long, dry, finish.

It’s the best barley wine I’ve ever tried.

Twisted Hop will never produce another Red Zone Enigma again, at least not under the same circumstances, so if you see this around you should just suck it up (its quite expensive – it had to be to make bottling it at the time viable) and buy it. Buy two bottles in fact, and cellar one of them for as long as you can wait.

And finally, the cherry on top: on the day that I drank this beer, one year on from the February 22 earthquake, The Twisted Hop started to brew again at their new premises in Sockburn. How’s that for a feel-good ending?

Published in: on February 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

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