#257 West Coast/DGB – Greasing Mongrels

Name: Greasing Mongrels
Brewery: West Coast/Dead Good Beer
Style: Spiced/Herbed lager
ABV: 4%
Source: Dave Kurth

I come from a family that could only be describes as obsessive when it comes to food, which meant that games of “guess the secret ingredient” were as much a part of my childhood as Lego or clotheshorse forts.

Having had years of practice, I really should be better at it. Unfortunately I’m usually the one that can clearly taste a flavour just after someone else has pointed it out.

Why is this relevant? Because Greasing Mongrels was brewed for Nelson beer festival Marchfest, where breweries were asked to submit a unique beer containing at least one secret ingredient. Ohhhh…..

I guessed one of them – the ginger, but the other had me stumped. It was fragrant, citrussy, so familiar yet nothing I’d ever tasted in a beer before.

Eventually (OK, after about two minutes) I caved and asked Google, who confirmed that it was in fact lemongrass. I say ‘confirmed’ because I’m pretty sure I knew that all along deep down. It was on the tip of my tongue – honest.

I have a weird aversion to ginger/citrus summer ale type things (for which I blame Monteith’s), and although this is a lager my brain automatically sorted it into that category. For that reason I probably wouldn’t drink a lot of it, but I enjoyed the new flavour experience and reckon heaps of people would love it. It was crisp, dry and well-balanced, and  the Lemongrass gave it a beautiful aroma.  Lemongrass and chili beer anyone? Too noughties asian-fusion perhaps but I’m tempted to try it out.

Oh! Oh! I nearly forgot the best part!

GREASING MONGRELS = LEMONGRASS GINGER.

Genius.

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Published in: on April 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm  Comments (1)  
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#256 Yeastie Boys – Gunnamatta

Name: Gunnamatta
Brewery: Yeastie Boys
Style: Tea-leafed IPA
ABV: 6.5%
Source: Yeastie Boys

Gunnamatta is a word that’s made for a saying in an Australian accent (“You gunna go ta gunnamatta mate?”), and sadly for NZ, this is a beer that’s made for drinking in Australia.

This Earl Grey tea-infused beer was created by the Boys especially for the Great Australian Beer Spectapular (GABS), which is happening in two weekend’s time in Melbourne.

And if you’re not going to be there then I suggest you stop reading now. Because the Gunnamatta is amazing.

It was the aroma that did it for me – more like a soap than a beer, and not obviously like Earl Grey straight away. The first things that came to mind when I sniffed it were pink roses and turkish delight, but deeper sniffing (and trust me, I sniffed this so much I almost inhaled it) revealed the distinct floral and bergamot orange notes of Earl Grey tea.

Unfortunately I abandoned my notes at this point to run around the house making my flatmates try it, but I remember it was dry and more bitter than I was expecting in the mouth. This worked really well I thought – all those floral notes could have been sickly with a sweet malty beer, but the fact it was crisp and refreshing meant I could happily drink a pint or two of it.

Thank God I made that financially reckless decision to go to GABS. I know there will be a multitude of incredible one-off beers there, but I’ll be making a beeline for this first. I can’t stop thinking about drinking it again!

As for everyone not going,… Well. You could always try dunking an Earl Grey tea bag in a regular pale ale?

Published in: on April 29, 2012 at 8:03 pm  Comments (6)  

#243 Emerson’s – Taieri George

Emerson's Taieri GeorgeName: Taeiri George
Brewery: Emerson’s
Style: Spiced Ale
ABV: 6.2%
Source: Thorndon New World

I almost don’t need to write anything about this beer. The lovely (if I do say so myself) picture on the right says it all – Hot. Cross. Buns. Homemade pagan hot cross buns in this instance.

The Taeiri George is released every year around this time, and is often described as tasting like – if you hadn’t guessed it – a hot cross bun in a bottle. Indeed, it tastes like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla, yeast, even raisins and some say, Jesus, if you squeeze your eyes shut and concentrate.

Now I freaking love hot cross buns, and I freaking love this beer. I wish I could have both of them all year round, although it probably adds to the appeal that I can’t. In all honesty I didn’t think they went that well together – the buns rather overwhelmed the beer and seemed to diminish the spice flavours rather than enhance them – but there was something so damn nice about it that I’m going to do it every year.

For the record, I didn’t get given any chocolate this Easter which I’m pretty sure is a first time occurance. Apparently I am officially a grown-up!

Published in: on April 12, 2012 at 4:20 pm  Comments (4)  
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#204 Cave Creek – Chili Beer

Name: Chili Beer
Brewery: Cave Creek (Tecate, Mexico)
Style: Herbed/Spiced beer
ABV: 4.7%
Source: Mexico (Britomart, Auckland)

The Cave Creek Chili beer has an incredible Ratebeer score of just 1 out of 100 for style, and 0 out of 100 overall. I don’t know how that’s even possible, but it suggests that this is probably the worst beer in the world.

Which is why I feel slightly embarrassed about admitting that I…. actually really enjoyed it.

OK OK. So the beer itself is crap. Probably. The thing is that you can’t really tell because it tastes entirely of the whole pickled chili that’s sitting in the bottle (and also in this case, the lime that it came with). Was it a sin to enjoy it? Probably! But I love pickled chilli and I love lime, and that’s exactly what this tasted like. I also love the slightly confusing sensation of drinking something cold and refreshing, and being left with a chilli burn in the mouth.

You can tell that without the pepper it would be pretty nasty – pale and watery like most other Mexican beer, but possibly worse since they can disguise any funky flavours with the chilli. It doesn’t really matter though, does it? The point is that they’re the only brewery (as far as I know) to put a chili in the bottle, and dammit if it wasn’t a good idea.

Now, to steer the conversation away from that embarrassing confession, I should mention that the new restaurant where I drank it – Mexico on Britomart Place – is well worth checking out. It has an awesome atmosphere, delicious soft tacos and best of all: I can actually afford it. Beer-wise the menu is a mixed bag. They have six or seven Mexican beers, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for a whopping $16 a bottle, and my beloved Michelada – only it’s terrible and seems to be made with a syrup instead of real tomato juice.

Does anyone else have any embarrassing beer confessions? i.e – is there a beer that is generally regarded as undrinkable, yet you’ve got a secret stash under your bed? Make me feel better and ‘fess up…

Published in: on February 29, 2012 at 4:06 pm  Comments (2)  
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#184 Hawkes Bay Independent – Summer Ale

Hawkes Bay Summer ReserveName: Special Reserve Summer Ale
Brewery: Hawkes Bay Independednt Brewery (Hawkes Bay, New Zealand)
Style:  Spiced Ale
ABV: 5%
Source: Herne Bay Cellars

Remember how I said a few posts ago that I had started running to counteract beer consumption?

Well I should probably just come clean right now and admit that all I’ve actually done is buy some running shoes and go for a couple of “power walks”.

One of these “power walks” was to Herne Bay Cellars, and I actually was going quite fast (although I wasn’t those silly swinging-arm motions), because it was hot and I was very thirsty.

I was going because my brother had told me that they have Fill-Your-Own taps there, which was an amazing revelation given I’ve lived 10 minutes away for two years and never know.

Fill my own I did. They had Emerson’s Pilsner (and those great brown glass flagons to put it in), Epic Pale Ae and a couple from Leigh Sawmill. I got 1.5L of Epic Pale Ale for around $15 I think, and picked up this bottle of Hawkes Bay Summer Ale – because it was summery, and because it was one of the only things I hadn’t blogged.

So, this one is made with honey and cinnamon (and maybe citrus too?), which made me think it would be like the horrible Monteith’s beer of the same name.

Thankfully this one was actually quite pleasant – even if I’d only drink one, and preferably on a really hot afternoon like this.

It smelled of  citrusy, herby hops and only slightly of spice. In the mouth it tasted of woody cinnamon, lemonade, honey and some kind of herby vegetation – maybe ginger. It was interesting for a moment, but that didn’t last long before the honey  took over and became a bit too sweet, with no real bitterness at the finish to balance it out.

If I was the kind of person that gave beer stars (and I’m not, honest), I’d probably give this 2 and a half.

And now, instead of going out for a Saturday morning power walk I’m going to do just the opposite and eat Yum Cha. Much better!

Published in: on February 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#127 Electric Landlord – Free Parkin V2

Name: Free Parkin
Brewery: Electric Landlord (Auckland, New Zealand)
Style: Spiced Yorkshire Dark Strong Ale
ABV: 7%
Source: Martin Bridges

Forgive me. I did something extremely cheesy for this photo and created a bit of a still-life Christmas scene – complete with fibre-optic tree, Christmas mince pie, and a beer which I fancied to be a little bit Chrismassy. You have to admit, it kinda warms the cockles of your heart though eh?

Aaaanyway, ‘Free Parkin V2’ is a creation by one of Auckland’s friendliest beer geeks, Martin Bridges. He kindly responded to my cry for more homebrew (which I would like to repeat: send me your homebrew!) and gave me this beer which based on a spiced cake from Yorkshire called Parkin.

Martin’s Parkin (nice ring to it eh?) poured a deep brown colour which I think was slightly hazy – though I can’t be sure as I was fumbling around in Christmas tree-light.

My first thought when I sniffed it was “Fuck. I have absolutely no idea how to describe this smell and Martin’s going to expect me to.” (It was a good smell – just new and unusual.)

After a few more deep inhalations I began to pick apart a few flavours – the first being, I thought, peppermint. But then as it started to warm up I realised I was really smelling ginger – which I guess Martin must have added to the beer. I took a sip and got more spice, treacley malt, and a hop bitterness that reminded me of quinine in tonic water.

It kept getting better as I drank it – the aroma got stronger and more gingerbready, with a little mixed spice, raisins, and maybe even some mandarin too. The light quinine-ish bitterness gave it a crispness that made it quite quaffable,  which is fine because you’re allowed to quaff 7% beers at Christmas.

Thanks Martin for sharing this delightful beer with me, and sorry if my description is completely pants. I feel like I was trying to describe the indescribable – which is always much more fun!

Published in: on December 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm  Comments (1)  
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#115 Mussel Inn – Captain Cooker

Name: Captain Cooker
Brewery: Mussel Inn (Onekaka, New Zealand)
Style: Herbed/Spiced Beer
ABV: 4%
Source: The Depot

So it’s Sunday morning, and due to unforeseen  circumstances which may or may not be related to the amount of beer I’ve consumed in the last few days, I am only just now getting around to writing up Thursday’s beer.

Of course, that means I also have Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s posts to write as well, so I’ll try not to go off on too many tangents.

I had this Captain Cooker at Depot on Thursday night (while eating the best fish tacos I’ve ever had in my life, I wish I could tell you abut them but that would be going off on a tangent), which the brewery describes as “A red brown beer flavoured with the freshly picked tips of the Manuka tree.”

The aroma was really interesting – lime, ginger, honey, and turkish delight (mum actually pointed out the Turkish Delight, she was spot on), and an unique sort of herbyness.

In the mouth – I must be honest here – my instant reaction was one of dislike. The problem was not really the beer, just that it reminded me a bit of the Monteith’s Summer Ale, for which I harbour an immense hatred. After a few more sips and a dissection of the malty sweetness, the strong rose flavour, the creamy mouthfeel and spicy bitter finish, I decided it really was quite a special beer, and not much like that over-spiced Monteiths crapola at all.

One of the coolest things about this beer (and I’ve only just realised this now),  is that it was brewed based on an original recipe for manuka beer that was recovered from Captain Cook’s diary about 10 years ago. I love it when beer throws me a surprise history lesson! If only there had been a beer-based history course at high school, I might just have got that A Bursary…

Published in: on December 4, 2011 at 1:32 pm  Comments (3)