#313 Little Creatures – Bright Ale

Little Creatures Bright Ale Name: Bright Ale
Brewery: Little Creatures (Freemantle, Australia)
Style: Golden Ale
ABV: 4.5%
Source: The Conservatory (Akl)

I’m not very good at talking about beer politics. I probably don’t really know or (dare I say it) care enough, even though I enjoy reading about the various scandals and scoundrels from those who do.

That said, I probably can’t write a post about Little Creatures without acknowledging the news that they were recently taken over by Lion. While this was great for headline writers – just try and count the “Lion swallows Little Creatures” articles online – a lot of people were really upset about it. Quite a few people on my Facebook and Twitter announced that they wouldn’t be drinking it any more, either on principle or because they expected the beer quality to decline.

My personal stance on this is not a strong one. I like to support craft breweries over the likes of Lion wherever possible so may buy LC less, but I’m unlikely to blacklist the beers unless they actually stop being delicious. And why should they? Little Creatures beers have been so successful ($380 million succesful, apparently!) that Lion would be demented to meddle with the recipe. Then again, people say Mac’s got a lot worse under Lion, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

Anyway, bleugh, enough politics. Let’s talk about the Little Creatures Bright Ale, which for now at least is tasting great.

It’s the right kind of beer for drinking on the waterfront, or on the North Wharf at Wynyard Quarter to be exact, especially if the weather’s hot (though obviously in this case it wasn’t).

As you’d expect from the name it is bright and clean beer, with aromas of citrus, bread and sweet caramel. In the mouth I got slightly spicy, lemony hops with a grassy and lightly bitter finish. It’s not quite as full or tasty as the Pale Ale, but it’s probably better as a summer quaffer.

I hate to go back to politics again but I just thought of another thing. If Lion owns Little Creatures, then that means Little Creatures beer will probably be sold all over the world – and that means more people getting exposed to the wonder that is beer with flavour, right?  So in the words of Talking Heads who (I think) gave the brewery it’s name: “Don’t get upset. It’s not a major disaster.”

Published in: on July 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm  Comments (12)  
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#311 & #312 Dunc Blair – Golden Fleece & Fresh Hop APA

Name: Golden Fleece
Brewery: Dunc Blair (homebrew)
Style: Golden Smoked Ale
ABV: 4.8%
Source: Dunc Blair

I keep telling myself I won’t be putting any more homebrew on the blog, but then someone goes and utters the word “smoked” and “fresh-hopped” and suddenly all bets are off.

As you can see from the awkwardly jumbled title of this post, I’m putting Dunc’s two homebrews (which I drank on consecutive days) together. It’s definitely not the case that Dunc’s beers weren’t worthy of a full post each, I just really need to catch up.

Dunc is what I’m going to call a super-homebrewer (a term I don’t use lightly, I can tell you!), because he grows his own hops for making beer. I don’t think I’ve ever tried beer with homegrown hops before, although I hope that in a few years, once the hop plant I bought dad has taken over the garden, I’ll be doing the same.

I had the pohutakawa-smoked beer first, which I’m happy to report was the closest thing I’ve ever encountered to liquid bacon. The aroma was of bacon, bacon and more bacon, with perhaps a hint of Rashuns. It was so good!

In the mouth it was crisp, dry, and still singing with those campfire-cooked bacon flavours.   I thought there was a little hole in the middle of the palate where perhaps it needed more bitterness or sweetness, but I still enjoyed it immensely.

Dunc’s other beer (a 5% fresh-hopped APA) was made with the hops he grew himself. The aroma was great – definetely more ‘Aotearoa Pale Ale’ than American I thought, with notes of sticky ripe pineapple, orange marmalade and sweet biscuity malt. In the mouth it was well balanced, with those sweet fruity notes leading to a dry pithy grapefruit finish, bitter but not too bitter, just right for me.

Thanks for the beers Dunc! And as a side note – when I was little we used to call my Dad (also a Duncan) Dunc the Funk. If you ever brew a funky Belgian ale you can have that name for free.

Published in: on July 5, 2012 at 11:21 am  Leave a Comment  

#248 Golden Ticket – Champion Malky

Golden Ticket Champion Malky Name: Champion Malky
Brewery: Golden Ticket Brewery (Chch, Brewed at Invergargill Brewery)
Style:  Golden Ale
ABV: 4.7%
Source: GT Brewery

If like me you’re in Auckland, then finding beer from this Christchurch micro-brewery is a bit like finding a Golden Ticket in a Wonka bar.

I’ve been reading tweets from and about the Golden Ticket brewery (and in particular one fabulous-sounding beer they made called Empire Strikes Black) ever since I started this blog, but it’s taken until now for any of their beer to make its way into my hands.

I drank this after a full day spent unpacking my Mum’s new house, while flopped onto the couch with a plate of fish ‘n’ chips. Probably anything would have tasted good at this point, so this actually far-exceeded my beverage requirements.

It had a lovely fruity aroma (lemon, pineapple and passionfruit), which became sweet and juicy in the mouth before the hop bitterness cut through toward the finish. There was a satisfying cracker-like flavour from the biscuit malt, and the finish was crisp and dry.

This would be a perfect brew for enjoying in the unseasonably warm Auckland Autumn, but it will probably be almost impossible to find any more. Of course if you do happen to get your hands on a bottle, then run for it, Charlie! Run straight home and don’t stop ’til you get there!

PS – I’m not quite sure why, but there’s something about the world “Malky” that I really, really like. It makes me think of both milk and chalk, which shouldn’t be appealing but it is. Of course, given that one of their beers was named after a Star Wars movie, it’s quite likely that Malky refers to a character in the God Emperor of Dune. Full geek points to them if it is.

Published in: on April 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm  Comments (1)  
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#229 Harviestoun – Bitter & Twisted

Harviestoun Bitter & TwistedName: Bitter and Twisted
Brewer: Harviestoun (Alva, Scotland)
Style: Golden Ale
ABV: 4.2%
Source: The Beer Store

On Sunday afternoon I had about 10 friends over for the second round of ‘Lucky Beer Club’, which is basically an excuse for me to gather people together and force them to enjoy my hobby with me. It’s marvelous fun!

I meant to be super organised and order some wacky mind-blowing stuff from the beer store, but instead I ended up racing around town (Vic Park NW, Galbraith’s, and the newly-discovered and amazing Newmarket liquorland) gathering bottles the day before. I mostly chose things that I thought people would like, plus a few things to make them go “Wooaah duuuuude! Is this even beer??” etc etc.

I was expecting people to like the hoppier beers best, but was pleased when most people chose the Smokin’ Bishop as their favorite (it was mine too). It was great to see people’s preconceptions about what they did and didn’t like challenged as well.  One friend said she didn’t like dark beers, then changed her mind when she got to the PKB, and another said he didn’t like fruit beer – then changed his mind when he drank the Boysenbeery. This is what LBC is all about!

Although it didn’t cause a huge stir, I thought the Bitter and Twisted was a really lovely drop. It had gentle citrus and stone fruit-flavoured hops, a definite yeast presence and just enough sweet malt to balance things out. It was dry and sparkling –  just the kind of thing to drink on a sunny afternoon. Or third in a fifteen-beer line-up.

Least favourite at the tasting was, unsurprisingly, the Lambic, although it did make for some wonderful faces. I forgot to take any pictures, but basically everyone looked like this:

Published in: on March 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm  Comments (3)  
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#220 Buxton Gold

Name: Buxton Gold
Brewery: Buxton (Buxton, England)
Style: Golden Ale
ABV: 5.2%
Source: The Beer Store

Before I get on to talking about this beer, I just want to apologise to all those poor sods who have elected to get this blog via email. I realise that on ‘catch-up’ days like today your inbox gets flooded with posts, and believe me I feel like a real prick for spamming you.

Anyway, the Buxton Gold. I drank it last week while listening to a wonderful This American Life podcast about the original recipe for Coke, and I can tell you the combo was magical.

Because this was described as a “Golden Ale”, I was expecting it to be a bit boring. Style-ist I know. What I mean is, I didn’t expect it to have the delicious big, bold American (and Nelson, it turns out) hop flavour and full, malty body. It thought it was really an APA, shyly disguising itself as a Golden Ale.

Maybe it was the delicious beer, maybe it was my audio-crush on Ira Glass (yes, that is a thing), but for some reason I drank this way too quickly and then wished I had another bottle. I didn’t, and just had to settle for three more podcasts instead.

Published in: on March 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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#217 Springhead – Roaring Meg

Name: Roaring Meg
Brewery: Springhead (Retford, England)
Style: Golden Ale
ABV: 5.5%
Source: The Beer Store

I would like to tell you that I’ve been without internet access for the past week – possibly because I’ve been on the moon or in North Korea – and that’s why I am a record seven days behind on posting.

But in fact I just got struck by lightning while abseiling from the Sky Tower and have spent the last week in a deep, unshakeable coma, waking for only 10 minutes each day to drink a beer.

Now that we have that out of the way, on to the Roaring Meg.

TBH, my memory of this is a little hazy, partly (mostly) because I drank it a week ago, but also because it didn’t stand out in any overly memorable way.

I remember honey and citrus, partly (mostly) because I read that on the bottle, but also they did seem to be there after it had been put into my head.

It was drinkable, had a nice sweetness and quite a light mouthfeel. An easy summer quaffer, but nothing to write home about. More of a Whistling Meg if you ask me.

Published in: on March 19, 2012 at 10:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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#173 Wanaka Beerworks – Mìere

Name: Mìere
Brewery: Wanaka Beerweorks
Style: Golden Honey Dubbel
ABV: 6.5%
Source: Regional Wines

Oops!

OK, first of all let me just apologise for being about two weeks late with this post. I’m not quite sure what happened – I just got behind and then somehow this one got forgotten. (Thank you to the very astute readers who pointed it out.)

Anyway, it shouldn’t have been forgotten because it was actually really lovely.

I liked the Mìere the best by far out of all the beers I’ve tried in this range, for reasons which I will now struggle to recall.

I remember it looked warm and glowy – all orangey golden, and hazy like my memory.

It tasted like  sunshine in a bottle – flowery (I think it said something about that on the bottle but whatever, it was true), with a little gentle citrus bite, a hint of honey sweetness, and a smooth malt backing.

It was sweet but not too sweet, subtle but not too subtle, interesting but not… You get the picture. It was good.

Now, speaking of forgetting beers – I’ve been thinking about how there are a lot of beers on the blog which get almost no description whatsoever, other than something like “I can’t remember what this tasted like, but I think it was pretty good.”

I feel a bit guilty about doing that, especially when I think of the brewers reading it, and all the hard work they put into the beer… And so I’ve devised a plan to try and make up for it.

All will be revealed in a couple of months time, but for now I would just like to say to all you neglected beers on BFAY – Tsingtao, Croucher Pilsner, Townsend Cathcarts, I’m talking to you – your time will come again!

Published in: on February 13, 2012 at 9:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#172 Townshend – Cathcarts

Name: Cathcarts
Brewery: Townshend (Upper Moutere, New Zealand)
Style: Golden Ale
ABV: 4.2%
Source: Regional Wines (Wellington)

Arg. Just got back from Laneway Music Festival – horribly sunburnt, VERY tired, and with indie-electro still ringing in my ears. Subsequently this might be my worst post ever…

I had this Cartharts on Friday night while catching up with some old friends. Because of the catching up and not wanting to look like a ninny I didn’t pull out my pen and paper to make notes, I just sort of drank this, without taking a whole lot of notice.

I vaguely recall that it was pleasant, easy-drinking, and very English. Nothing too flashy or attention-grabbing about it, but the kind of thing you could happily knock back several of in an afternoon if you were that way inclined. (And obviously, we all are.)

Aside from thinking that there was some citrus from the hops, and that the malt wasn’t really ‘chewy’ as the label said it was,  I can’t really remember what it tasted like. That’s OK though – sometimes ‘background’ beers that don’t demand a whole lot of attention are OK – especially when you’re trying to have a conversation with non beer-crazed friends.

Right. Bed. Goodnight!


Published in: on January 30, 2012 at 11:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#168 Brick House – Lie-In King

Name: Lie-In King (!)
Brewery: Brick House (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Style: Golden Ale
ABV: 4.7%
Source: Douglas Horrell

OK – let me just start by saying bravo to brewer Douglas on the name. I love the Lion King, I love lie-ins, but most important I LOVE PUNS!

The Lie-in King (teehee!) is another fabulous homebrew, sent to me a few months back by Douglas Horrell of Christchurch.

It’s described as a Golden Ale (a style I usually find a bit boring), but this was much tastier and hoppier than any I’ve tried before.

It was made with Nelson Sauvin hops, which I thought gave it bold, punchy notes of both citrus and tropical fruit – the most obvious being mango. In the mouth it was well-balanced, zesty and crisp, with a little fresh cut grass and pine-needley dryness at the finish.

At least that’s how I remember it from last night. The only note I actually wrote was “Why doesn’t my homebrew taste like this?” – and then I wrote a list of pun-filled potential beer names, as if that was the answer.

(FYI, it turned out one of the best ones – Hoptimus Prime – is already taken.)

Published in: on January 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm  Comments (5)  
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#142 Cucapá Clásica

Cucapá ClásicaName: Clásica
Brewery: Cerveceria
 Cucapá (Mexicali, Mexico)
Style: Golden Ale
ABV: 4.5%
Source Barra Beer (Puebla, Mexico)

Who would have thought? It turns out writing a blog every day while on holiday is a giant pain in the ass. Especially when you’re in as wonderfully colourful and distracting a place as Mexico.

But I must press on – if only because these blog posts let mum know that I’m still alive. (She actually requested that I start putting my sightseeing photos up on here, but I thought that was a bit much.)

I had this at a craft beer bar – Barra Beer, in the beautiful city of Puebla, just south of Mexico City.

I’ve never been wildly excited about any Blonde/Golden Ale that I can remember, and I wasn’t wildly excited about this one, but it was still a damn sight tastier than any of the mainstream Mexican beers on offer.

It had a soft fruity hop aroma and some nice caramelly malt coming through, a crisp mouthfeel and a lingering bitter finish. It was refreshing too – just what I needed after traipsing the streets under the hot Mexican sun all day.

Hey, I just realised it’s New Year’s Eve in NZ! Hope you’ve all got some good beer to drink (but if you’re reading this, then of course you bloody do.) Have a good one!

Published in: on December 31, 2011 at 6:10 pm  Comments (1)