#352 Galbraith’s – Bob Hudson’s Bitter

Name: Bob Hudson’s Bitter
Brewery: Galbraith’s (Auckland, NZ)
Style: Bitter
ABV: 4%
Source: Galbraith’s Alehouse

A pint of Bob’s is like my old pair of jeans, English Breakfast with milk or a night at home watching cartoons. It’s not the most extreme, the most exciting or the most unusual thing on the menu – but it might just be the best.

I didn’t realised how much I loved Bob’s until just recently, actually. It sort of snuck up on me, like affection for a pet you never really asked for. The main reason I’d order Bob’s was because it was only 4%, and if I was in a particularly wussy mood I’d make it a half. I’d often have it before drinking something a little more outrageous, or at the end of the night when I’d already had a bit too much.

But remember at the end of Clueless when Cher has that sudden (and frankly a little creepy) realization that she’s been in love with her dorky ex-stepbrother all along? (You know – “Oh my gosh, I love Josh!”). Probably I’m talking to the wrong audience here – but the point is I had the same epiphany with Bob’s recently. Thankfully, I did refrain from going full-Cher and crying “I am majorly, totally, butt-crazy in love with Bob!” at Galbraith’s.

Enough of these awful analogies though – let me tell you why Bob’s is special.

The aroma is gentle but exciting – a little zingy citrus, floral notes and caramel malt. In the mouth it is deliciously fruity (more citrus, I think), and slightly sweet, perfectly balanced with only the gentlest bite at the finish. The mouthfeel is perfect – so smooth and creamy yet light and refreshing. I would say this is the most “guzzle-able” beer I’ve ever tasted.

And so for today’s thank you (that’s a thing that I’m doing now, see last post) I’d like to thank Ian Ramsay of Galbraith’s. Firstly for brewing this wonderful beer (along with Keith presumably, if he really does exist), but mostly for being incredibly encouraging of this project and always chastising me whenever I got behind on posts. Knowing Ian was playing close attention was about as good a motivator as I could have had.

Finally, it’s a happy coincidence that this Monday Galbraith are launching the latest in their Great Brewer Cask Series, and this time the guest brewer is Bob Hudson. How did they get around the fact Bob died five years ago? I don’t know, but I’m hoping there’s going to be a hologram.

Published in: on July 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm  Comments (3)  

#316 Pink Elephant – Golden Tusk

Pink Elephant Golden Tusk Name: Golden Tusk
Brewery: Pink Elephant
Style: ESB
ABV: 7.1%
Source: New World

It’s been about 10 months since I last drank a Pink Elephant beer,  and in that time the brewery has remained a complete mystery to me. I’ve never read a Tweet from or about them, never seen a Pink Elephant beer launch party on Facebook, and never heard the brewer’s name dropped in beer geek gossip. This, coupled with their 90’s comic sans website, make them kind of endearing to me.

They seem to make quite interesting beer, too. The Trumpet and in particular the Pink’s Peculiar (what a mouthful) were both wonderfully weird, and gave me the impression that the brewer could be a bit of a lone ranger. Rather than making fashionable IPAs and Tweeting about it, I imagine the brewer making these old-fashioned concoctions in a dark basement while chewing aniseed balls and dreaming of England.

The Golden Tusk had quite a nice aroma – toffee, ripe fruit and a touch of alcohol, and in the mouth it tasted rich and malty at first with a short resinous hop finish. It was quite nice, but had a harsh edge which reminded me that it if I drank the whole thing I’d probably end up with a headache. Sometimes I wish more beers would be so obvious with their warning signs…

Published in: on July 8, 2012 at 2:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

#314 Cock & Bull – Fuggles

Name: Fuggles
Brewery: Steam Brewing
Style: English Bitter
ABV: 4.75%
Source: City of Ales

Okay, now you know how horribly behind on posts I am because I’m writing about a festival that happened two weeks ago. Thank god I don’t blog about fashion or some other thing that’s only cool for five minutes eh?

Most readers will have been there or heard, but the City of Ales Festival was a marvelous day for craft beer in Auckland. The venue was cool, the sandwiches were huge, and the queues for the beer were 2 deep max. This last point alone put it leagues ahead of the NZ Beer Festival in my mind.

There were a few new and exciting beers that I’d never tried before, so it might seem strange that I chose to write about Cock & Bull’s Fuggles – which has probably been around forever and might not have been the most memorable beer for some.

But, I really liked it. And as I’d never tried a Cock & Bull beer (or set foot in one of the pubs) before, it was still fairly new and exciting for me.

I always find it hard to properly engage with beers at festivals – your mouth gets so bombarded with hops and coffee beans and God-knows-what early on – but still the gentle English hops and mouth-filling malt of this one appealed. The aroma was floral and slightly bready, and in the mouth the toffee malt gave way to quite a dry bitterness at the finish. It was more malty and more hoppy than I expected an English Bitter to be, but I liked that about it. It had a bit of spunk, you know?

Thanks very much to all the volunteers, SOBA, and especially Martin Bridges for  putting on City of Ales (great name BTW – wish I’d thought of it). Please please please do it again next year, and don’t feel like you need to change a thing.*

*Except did you ever think about putting heaps and heaps of beanbags on the floor? I remember this struck me as a great idea when I was a few beers in. I don’t know where one acquires heaps of beanbags on the cheap, but maybe if we all start sewing now we’d have enough by next year. 

Published in: on July 5, 2012 at 1:48 pm  Comments (7)  

#303 Red Duck – Burton

Name: Burton
Brewery: Red Duck (Camperdown, VIC, Australia)
Style: Premium Bitter/ESB
Source: Grampians Grape Escape
ABV: 5.4%

Always on the lookout for ways to write posts in under five minutes make the blog more interesting, I took inspiration from The Thirsty Boys and decided to compound the entire post into a traditional Japanese Haiku:

Murky amber pour,
Like fossilized tree resin
That needs a clean.

Shite. I’ve used up all the syllables and I haven’t even got to the nose yet. This is worse than Tweeting! OK so I’m going to spread the post out over three haikus instead.

What is that weird smell?
I think it might be band-aid

But also flowers

Slightly unfair decription of the nose actually. There was a hint of the band-aid (I think people usually describe this as “minerally” – something to do with the water), floral notes, and also other fruits that didn’t fit into the haiku. I can’t be specific, but they were the kind of fruits that  have juice which drips down your arm and goes sticky.

Sweet, oh wait bitter
Caramel malt and dry chalk
Crisper than Kettles

“Kettles” in this instance refers of course to Kettle Chips, which is a compliment because they are my favourite.

OK guys, sorry for making you read three of the shittiest haikus ever to grace the internet in a failed attempt to cut corners. I should have just posted this instead:

Thumbs up!

Published in: on June 21, 2012 at 5:54 pm  Comments (1)  

#285 Timothy Taylor – Landlord

Name: LandlordTimothy Taylor Landlord
Brewery: Timothy Taylor
Style: English Bitter
ABV: 4.3%
Source: Stephen at Galbraith’s

Remember how way back at the beginning of the blog I used to write about some beers as if they were love interests?

Admittedly that was partly because I didn’t know how to give actual descriptions of beer, and so “it’s the kind of beer you could introduce to your friends to” was about as good as I could manage, but also I was ‘fresher’ back then. Every beer was a new taste sensation, and I fell head over heels fairly often.

And yet, this dried up old prune is in the first flush of  love again. I’ve decided that Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, whoever he is, is to be my second husband*after Bookbinder – although like the former he will still be occasionally cheated on by the likes of Rex Attitude.

I knew it was marriage material from the moment I caught its scent – which was of clean floral hops, honey and freshly baked bread. In the mouth it was creamy and sweet, but with a chalky dryness to the water and a subdued bitter kick at the end. To be honest I’m not even sure what it was that made it so special, it was just so well-rounded and lovely. I could drink it forever and never get sick of it. And oh! – imagine it from a cask!

Naturally I discovered my love of Landlord just as the country’s supply ran out, and apparently it won’t be back until 2013. I’m now kicking myself for looking past it on the shelves at New World for so long, never realising that it was in fact the one. (Or at least one of the ones.)

A big thank you to Stephen who shared his last bottle of Landlord with me at Galbraith’s. You get full acknowledgement as the person who introduced us, and can certainly be the best man at the wedding.

* To clarify – a beer that qualifies as a ‘husband’ is one that is well-rounded, sessionable, charming and reliable. Preferably he will also be based in New Zealand, but I’m willing to go long-distance for this one. 
Published in: on May 30, 2012 at 10:01 am  Comments (5)  

#249 Greene King – Old Speckled Hen

Name: Old Speckled Hen
Brewery: Greene King
Style: ESB
ABV: 5.2%
Source: Waiheke Wines

Ahhh, my dear friend Old Speckled Hen.

While not the brightest, the boldest, or the tastiest beer in town, Old Speckled Hen will always have a special place in my heart.

When I was 23 (not so long ago really) I lived in London for a year. These days I look back with fondness at the cosy pubs, the grand parks, the nightly knife fights that would break out outside our council estate – but in truth I was mostly having a shitter of a time.

I worked in a windowless building at an awful job in a very boring place called Vauxhall, whose only redeeming feature was its position across the road from the pub. A group of us would go to there most days and drink as much Old Speckled Hen as we could squeeze into the lunch hour, before returning to stare at our computer screens and count the minutes until the evening tube.

Nostalgia is a funny thing isn’t it? Even that dreary scene seems somewhat charming to me now, and nothing brings the memories flooding back like a can of Old Speckled Hen.

It’s a malt-driven beer, but fairly light in the mouth and verging on watery. There’s a caramelly aroma, and in the mouth there are sweet notes of vanilla and fruit, along with a bit of grain and metal. The finish is lightly bitter, with not much of an aftertaste.

OK, so I now realise that it’s not really a brilliant beer. It beats most of the other large can beers we get on the shelves here – but as far as ESB’s go you could certainly do a lot better. 

Sorry Old Friend. At least we’ll always have Vauxhall.

Published in: on April 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm  Comments (1)  

#124 Fullers – London Pride

Fuller's London Pride Name: London Pride
Brewery: Fullers (London, England)
Style: ESB
ABV: 4.7%
Source: Greytown liquor store

Just a very quick post on this one as I’m quite behind on the posts and frankly, still quite buggered after a weekend (/week/year) of excessive consumption.

This was Saturday’s beer, which I had in the middle of Dad’s 60th birthday after about 10 glasses of wine. Needless to say my memory is hazy and my notes… well. There were no notes.

I do remember that it had a lovely sweet, toffeeish malty aroma much like the day before’s Wee Heavy. In the mouth it was quite different though – not nearly as syrupy or sweet, with a much greater hop presence and a crisp, bitter finish.

I think I was a bit disappointed by it just because I was comparing it to the  Wee Heavy – but actually it’s a completely different style and there’s no reason why it should have been similar. Probably I was just riding the dizzying high of the malt wave and never wanted to come down. That or I was  drunk from the 10 glasses of wine.

In summary – I have no idea. I’m going to stop trying to write this review now before it gets any worse. Over and out.

Published in: on December 12, 2011 at 7:15 pm  Comments (6)  

#94 Emerson’s – Tally Ho!

Name: Tally Ho!
Brewery: Emerson’s (Dunedin, New Zealand)
Style: Summer Ale
ABV: 4.9%
Source: Emerson’s shop (Dunedin)

If there’s one thing I like more than a pint of Emerson’s beer, it’s a 2.5L flagon of Emerson’s beer.

That’s exactly what I got when I was at the Emerson’s Brewery/shop in Dunedin on Wednesday, and that little German beer glass you see next to it is from an op shop in Oamaru. Seeing them together makes me feel strangely warm and fuzzy inside, and makes me sort of wish I lived in the South Island until I remember I hate the cold.

Here are a few snaps that I took at the shop/brewery:

Emersons bottles

Emersons tasters

Emerson's Brewery

Alice outside the Emerson's shop

So the Tally Ho! is a a ‘summer ale’ –  a term that might make you think of that godawful sweet, flavour-injected, Monteiths crap. If it does, get your mind out of the gutter now and transport it to the garden of an English pub, in a little country town with a name like twattfordshire. Imagine the sun appearing from the clouds allowing you to momentarily take off your windbreaker, smell the honeysuckle mingling with cigarette smoke and chips, and imagine a lovely pint of bitter being placed on the wonky picnic table in front of you.

That’s what this beer is. Very summery, very English. It smells zingy and fresh – like herbs and cut grass, with maybe a little squeeze of citrus fruit. The aroma isn’t strong, but it’s there and it’s enough to draw you in.

It’s crisp and quenching in the mouth. Light, but with enough hoppy bitterness and spice to make itself known. Unlike my one experience of a British Summer (“The worst we’ve ever had” they said. I’m not so sure), the finish is long and dry.

This is exactly the kind of beer that I want to have a 2.5L flagon of in the fridge at all times – chilled and ready to combat the most severe attacks of thirst. Unfortunately there’s nowhere to refill it in Auckland, so (again like my English Summer) I’ll just have to enjoy it for the three days that it lasts.

Published in: on November 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm  Comments (1)  

#79 Townshend – Bandsman

Townshend BreweryName: Bandsman
Brewery: Townshend (Upper Moutere, Nelson, New Zealand)
Style: English Bitter
ABV: 3.8%
Source: Regional Wines (Wellington, New Zealand)

It’s a touch inappropriate that I drank this beer out of my Arrogant Bastard Ale glass, because I could hardly think of a less arrogant beer to go in it.

The Bandsman is the second beer I’ve tried from Martin Townshend and, like the Sutton Hoo which I went all sorts of crazy over, this a beer I could see myself settling down and having a long-term relationship with.

From it’s low alcohol volume to it’s soft carbonation and delicate hop perfume, everything about this beer is gentle. It didn’t get all in my face and scream “Hey! Look at me!” it just quietly and confidently charmed the pants off of me.

But what sort of a beer review is that? What I mean to say is – it had a lovely aromatic hop aroma (New Zealand I’d guess) – a bit fruity, a bit floral, and a biscuity malt sweetness to round everything out. It was soft and fairly light with a gentle hop bitterness at the finish. To say it was quaffable is an understatement – but that’s just fine because it’s only 3.8%!

I’m heading down to Nelson for work in a few weeks and I’m going to try my darndest to get over to Moutere to visit Townshend, and to have a few pints at the Moutere Inn. According to Wikipedia it’s New Zealand’s oldest pub to be still operating in it’s original building, and it has Townshend beers on hand-pull. Is it just me, or does that sound like the best place to drink beer ever?

Published in: on October 27, 2011 at 2:07 pm  Comments (8)