#350 United Dutch Breweries – Pirate 8.5

Pirate 8.5Name: Pirate 8.5
Brewery: United Dutch Breweries (Breda, Netherlands)
Style: Strong Pale Lager
ABV: 8.5%
Source: Countdown

Well why the hell not, right?

I know I’ve only got 15 beers left and every one is sacred, but for some reason I can’t fully explain I’ve been gagging to try this beer for ages. At the end of the day, I think it’s just because pirates are cool.

I’m about to drink it at work, with the can hidden from sight behind some dictionaries. This is partly a metaphor for me hiding my insecurities behind big words, mostly it’s just I’m embarrassed to be seen drinking 8.5% tramp juice out of a big boy can.

OK so I’ve poured it, and we’ve got no head – I repeat, no head. It does look quite nice though; clear and golden like the cheap kinds of apple juice.

I’m smelling it, and we’ve got no aroma either. Well, that’s not quite true. There is the faintest hint of… I don’t know, barley sugars perhaps? Yes, orange barley sugars, with underlying notes of beer.

Going in for a sip now…

Clean and sweet at first, then rising alcohol and a vaguely Belgian banana lolly flavour. Basically no carbonation, slightly prickly finish and a metallic aftertaste.

Well, this isn’t quite the Cinderella story I was hoping for, but it’s not as bad as I had feared, either. I mean it’s shit, no doubt about that, but it’s a European shit, which is a kind I can tolerate.

Also, it’s instantly lifted my mood and made everything seem sort of soft-focus – like I’m looking through a Bold & the Beautiful camera lens. I don’t know why that is, but I think I’m going to drink the whole can and see what happens. Happy Friday!

Published in: on July 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm  Comments (3)  

#345 Mussel Inn – Golden Goose

Name: Golden Goose
Brewery: The Mussel Inn
Style: Pale Lager
ABV: 4%
Source: Depot Eatery

By Jingo, By Crickey, I think I’ve found it – finally a lager to love!

I mean sure, I’ve raved about some pilsners and rauchbiers and plenty of other lager styles before, but a lager lager? I’m pretty sure this is the first. And just in the nick of time, what’s more, with no more than two weeks of the blog left.

I knew it was special as soon as I sniffed it – instead of the usual hay and grain and metal muck, I got sharp orange zest, fresh-cut grass and honey. In the mouth it was instantly delicious – creamy and full for a lager, yet clean and crisp at the same time. There was plenty of juicy citrus flavour from the hops, and a lovely honey sweetness to support it. I could drink this all summer long.

On another (loosely relevant) note, I went to a 90s themed party on Saturday night and successfully lowered the tone by singing Chumbawamba on karaoke. I have since had “She drinks a whiskey drink, she drinks a lager drink” in my head, which is still very annoying but now is at least true. She does drink those things.

PS – Just remembered I liked the Epic Lager a lot too. But that was way more hoppy right, almost not quite to style? For the sake of everything I’ve just written I’m choosing to discount it.

Published in: on July 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm  Comments (3)  
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#335 Vonu – Pure Lager

Name: Pure Lager
Brewery: Vonu (Nadi, Fiji)
Style: Lager
Source: Dad
ABV: 4.6%

“If you use the word ‘hangover’ on your blog again, social services are going to come and take you away.”

That’s what Dad said to me last Sunday, just before he pushed this glass of Fijian lager into my clammy, shaking hand.

I was in the throws of kind of hangover that makes food poisoning or violent gastroenteritis seem desirable. I literally could not have felt worse, or less enthused about drinking even one drop of alcohol.

But a beer a day is a beer a day (and sometimes much more, apparently,) so I reluctantly bought the glass of Vonu to my nose and inhaled.

It was hard to think clearly while riding the rocky waves of nausea, but I detected something pleasant and floral on the nose. It wasn’t much, but it was more than I was expecting from a lager from Fiji.

“Yup, that smells good,” I said to Dad. “I don’t think I even need to taste it really.”

“Just do it Al,” he said sternly.

And so I took a sip. I shuddered, I winced, I may have momentarily blacked out – but I took a sip and I even swallowed it.

“K…K…Kinda crisp,” I stammered, “might be nice if you were on a beach in F…Fiji,” before handing the glass back and crumbling to the floor.

It’s a shame I was in such a sorry state when I tried this beer, because I actually think it might have been nice. I mean not really nice, but refreshing and hoppier than your average pale lager.

And now I must dash; I think I hear social services at the door.

Published in: on July 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm  Comments (1)  
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#310 Epic – Lager

Epic Lager Name: Lager
Brewery: Epic
Style: Lager
ABV: 5%
Source: Vic Park NW

Apologies for the four-day posting hiatus –  but I promise I’ve been busy doing lots of important things and definitely didn’t spend the majority of the weekend in bed hungover watching 50 million episodes of Downton Abbey and eating chips. Definetely not.

OK so I did exactly that and I feel suitably ashamed. But Finn has gone away for his usual 5 week winter tour, and while I’m sure that will lead to amazing blog productivity soon, he doesn’t like Ready Salted or period dramas so I had to take advantage.

So, the Epic Lager is a pretty mainstream craft beer, and you might wonder why I haven’t blogged about it or even tried it before now. There is no reason really, other than that the ‘L’ word might have put me off a little. Why get the Lager when I could get a Pale Ale instead?

But surprise surprise, this was much hoppier than any lager I’ve had before. It’s probably hoppier than any lager ought to be, but really who cares? It was all the more enjoyable for it.

I got lots of citrus and grassy hops on the nose as well as a little lychee (though I did wonder if this was the gewurtz I’d been drinking earlier). In the mouth it was fruity and a little sweet, with a clean and lightly bitter finish. The flavours were similar to the Pale Ale, but it was less hoppy and a little crisper. I really liked it actually. I may order this over the Pale Ale in future.

Righty-ho, I have a date with the Earl of Grantham and a cup of tea. More beer/less excuses tomorrow!

Published in: on July 2, 2012 at 10:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#296 Three Boys – Cervesa Mas Fina

Name: Tres Amigos Cervesa
Brewery: Three Boys (Chch, NZ)
Style: Lager
ABV: 5%
Source: Glengarry’s

Ohhh snap, here I am back at Spicy Joint just three days after my last visit. There’s just something about deep-fried meat of questionable origin floating in bowls of dried chilli that I can not resist.

I really don’t know what’s going on with this latest offering from three boys, but I like it. I mean, you can tell from the fact it’s in a clear bottle that it’s not going to be a flavour sensation… But it’s all in Spanish! And the logo of the three little Mexican stickmen… So cuuuuute!

I can’t find anything on the internet about this beer, or what possessed three boys to have a punt at a Mexican lager (which isn’t exactly the most highly regarded beer in the world), so I put the Spanish blurb on the lable into Google Translate hoping to get some answers. It said:

The three friends is the flavor of Mexico to the brewery three boys. Enjoy it cold and straight from the bottle with a slice of lemon! Have it after mowing the lawn, next to the grill or on the beach. Hencha with the traditional Mexican method [??] to the height of a kiwi summer. Health!

You know how I feel about pale lagers and you know I did not love this beer, but it did bring back memories of Mexico for me. I even thought I sensed the faint taste of Jalepenos – but again I was tripping on chillies and and pig’s trotters so it’s hard to say.

One thing I can be sure of is that this would make for an excellent Michelada base, so if I have this again (and I might just for the cute stickemen), instead of lemon I’ll be adding Tobasco sauce, Worcester sauce, lime juice, Maggi seasoning sauce (secret ingredient), and salt. Health!

Published in: on June 14, 2012 at 1:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#289 Sapporo – Premium Beer

Sapporo Draft Name: Premium Draft
Brewery: Sapporo Breweries
Style: Pale Lager (Tokyo, Japan)
ABV: 4.9%
Source: District Dining

Dad is often telling me that it’s impolite/lazy/bad form  to write posts that say “I was drunk when I had this beer and I don’t remember what it tasted like.”

But I’m sorry – I don’t know what else to say. I was highly intoxicated when I had this beer and I have no effing clue what it tasted like.

That’s OK though, because this is a big commercial lager and I’m sure squillions of other people, better-informed than me, have posted their thoughts all over Ratebeer and the like. All I can add to this dialogue is that pale lager tastes extra boring when you’re already drunk, and that the word “Premium” makes me want to vomit in my mouth a little bit. (Though maybe that was the one and a half bottles of wine.)

However I hate to write a post that contains absolutely no useful information whatsoever  – so here’s this handy infographic someone emailed me to help with my pitiful style knowledge. (Click to embiggen.)

Published in: on June 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

#282 Green Fern – Organic Lager

Green Fern Organic LagerName: Organic Lager
Brewery: Green Fern (West Coast Breweries)
Style: Lager
ABV: 5%
Source: Dave Kurth

I’m trying to like lagers. I really am, but even when I drink fancy hand-crafted organic ones I’m always left wondering: “what’s the point?”

From the Steinlager pure-esque packaging I would assume that this beer is market at people who enjoy, well, Steinlager pure, but might like the idea of having an organic beer every now and then when they’re detoxing.

In actuality this doesn’t taste like Steinlager pure – it has a much bigger malt presence and a fuller mouthfeel. That to me is what sets it apart from mainstream commercial lagers, and not a lot else. It has similar light grassy hop notes, cereal flavours and a really light bitter kick at the end.

As far as lagers go it doesn’t seem to be too bad. I would rather drink this than Steinlager Pure, but even with this I’d have to be thirsty.

I’m almost 3/4 of the way to the end of the year, and I still have as much enthusiasm for lager as I do for wet bread. Time to cut my losses and give up on it?

Published in: on May 27, 2012 at 6:21 pm  Comments (5)  

#276 Carlton & United Breweries – Victoria Bitter

Name: Victoria BitterA dire photo for a dire situation
Brewery: Carlton & United Breweries (Melbourne, VIC)
Style: Pale Lager
ABV: 4.6%
Source: Flight NZ123

This was the worst, the absolute fucking worst beer-drinking experience of all time.

I was on the plane, squished in by the window with two people between me and the aisle, and I needed to pee.

Now, I know peeing on a plane is not a huge deal – most people would have just  gone at the first sign of nature’s call – but I have this weird phobia of bothering strangers. I didn’t want to make the people next to me stand up and get out of their seats, so I just sat there like a chump waiting for it to get worse.

And then eventually, when it was really time to go, I saw the dinner cart approaching. This forced me into a new dilemma: get up, make a nuisance of myself and risk missing my food (or at least the beef option), or stay imprisoned in my seat until dinner was over.

Like an idiot I chose the latter option. And to make things worse, I had to order a beer  because this was my only chance to get one in before midnight.

Every sip, which I took with a kind of angry determination, was pure torture. The beer tasted like watery piss (the piss I wasn’t having), and turned me into a tense, squirming wreck. Eventually when the alarm bells grew too loud to ignore, I realized I was going to have to take action.

“Excuse me” I said to the two people next to me, who were busy tucking into their stroganoff and wine.

“I know this is awfully bad timing, but I think I’d better use the loo.”

Published in: on May 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm  Comments (3)  

#262 Coors UK – Cobra

Cobra beer bottle Name: Cobra
Brewery: Coors UK (Morson Coors, Burton-upon-Trent, England)
Style: Pale Lager
ABV: 4.8%
Source: Ravi’s, Ponsonby

So apparently, at least according to the tagline on the label, this right here is “the world’s most celebrated lager”.

I can’t for the life of me imagine what the celebrations were about. Beer most beloved by snakes perhaps?  Beer most likely to be drunk with Rogan Josh? Beer with the most difficult-to-believe tagline?

I used to always think that pale lagers like this went well with Indian food – but I’ve recently decided they don’t. If your mouth is burning and you want relief then the only thing for it is lassi, and if you want to drink something that tastes good, then it better have a lot of flavour else the curry will totally dominate it. Of course it depends on the type of curry, but ideally I’d go for a Pale Ale or Pilsner and not a big bitter IPA. I feel like extreme bitterness + extreme spice = angry confused tastebuds.

TBH I know jack all about food and beer matching and I’m really just riffing here –  the point is I drank this beer with curry and it didn’t perform well. It was pretty sweet, had a thin/watery mouthfeel, flavours of metal, honey, and maybe some faint grassy hops. Maybe. Once I started drinking the curry it tasted of nothing – it was just wet, cold, and a bit sweet.

Imagine if there was an Indian Restaurant in Auckland that sold good beer as well as great curry? I’d probably live there. Unfortunately my favourite Indian Restaurant (still a closely guarded secret) doesn’t even have a liquor license, so we’re probably still a way off…

Published in: on May 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm  Comments (13)  

#260 Moutere Brewing – Sarau Lager

Name: Sarau Lager
Brewery: Moutere Brewing (Brewed by Dave Kurth)
Style: Munich Helles
ABV: 4.2%
Source: Moutere Inn

A while ago I posted about the best pub in NZ (or at least the best pub slash hotel, so as not to upset Galbraith’s) – the Moutere Inn in Upper Moutere, near Nelson.

I won’t bang on again (much), but there are just so many things to love about this place.

It’s the oldest operating pub in New Zealand (history: check), it’s set in the prettiest little country village (scenery: check) and it has one of the best tap beer ranges in New Zealand (happiness: check).

This beer is brewed for the Moutere Inn by Dave Kurth – who is apparently some kind of behind-the-scenes wizard because he seems to be brewing beer for everybody north of Westport these days (West Coast, Dead Good Beer, and Moutere Inn are the ones I know of).

While I love the Moutere Inn and am loathe to say a bad word about them, unfortunately I’m unable to rave about this beer. It’s just like nearly all lagers are to me: clean and easy-drinking, good for quenching a thirst, but ultimately pretty ‘meh’.

I didn’t really get any hop aroma, just a little malt and grain on the nose. In the mouth it was sweetish and malty, light in body, with a faint herbaceous hop flavour and only the meekest little bite at the finish.

I can understand why the Moutere Inn would make this beer. When I was there the majority of patrons were drinking mainstream lager from crate bottles instead of the craft beers, so this could be an attempt at coaxing those patrons towards the taps.  And let’s face it – a 10% IIPA isn’t going to sell well with local farmers who want something refreshing to drink at the end of the day, so from a business perspective it makes sense. In short, there’s a place in the world for this Sarau Lager, but it’s at the Inn, not with me.

PS – In the beer’s defense, this is probably much better fresh from the tap. I drank this from a prefilled rigger about 2 weeks after I received it, which quite probably had some detrimental effect.

Published in: on May 7, 2012 at 5:18 pm  Leave a Comment