#356 Dr Hops – World Pale Ale

Dr Hops World Pale ALe Name: World Pale Ale
Brewery: Dr Hops (brewed at Invercargill Breweries)
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%
Source: Dr Hops

I was nervous that things might be getting a little stagnant by this stage – that I’d be scraping the barrel with Export Gold or those obscure Russian beers you find for $2 each on K Rd – but looky here: a brand new pale ale from a brand new New Zealand brewery!

I didn’t know who Dr Hops was until she Tweeted at me a few days ago, enthusiastically replying “drink me!” when I asked for beer recommendations. Obligatory Alice in Wonderland jokes were exchanged, and a few days later a bottle of her World Pale Ale arrived in the post.

Part of me wonders if I’m not meant to celebrate the fact the brewer behind Dr Hops, Nicky Claridge, is a woman – because I’m so PC that it’s not even a thing – but really that would be silly. The brewing world is still very much dominated by males and I do get excited when I see women at the helm of craft beer, especially when the beer is as good as this.

I was punched in the nose by passionfruit, with plenty of zesty citrus and sweet caramel in the background. In the mouth I got toffeeish, almost roasty malt, countered by a bitter citrus finish that lingered for ages on the tongue. It was refreshing, clean, and seriously tasty.

Hooray for “women in beer” and, more importantly, for a cool new presence on the NZ beer scene. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the Doc, and await plenty more good things to come. No presh.

Today’s thank you goes to another woman in beer – Kate Jordan – who is the editor of the Soba newsletter, Pursuit of Hoppiness, and author of the sporadically updated but always interesting blog “Beer“. Kate has been generally cool and supportive, and welcomed me  into the Auckland beer geek circle when I first came knocking on its door, unannounced, last August. Kate has three hours left until she ends her Dry July campaign, and I look forward to buying her a beer (and then watching her inject it into her veins) when I see her next.

Published in: on July 31, 2012 at 9:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#354 Cavalier Beer – Cavalier Pale

Name: Cavalier Pale
Brewery: Cavalier Beer (Brunswick, Australia)
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5%
Source: The Den (Fitzroy, VIC)

Though I’m not a religious woman, I believe very strongly that Sundays should be a day of rest. I personally like to observe this by keeping my dressing gown on for the entirety of the day, refusing to leave the house after 5pm, and only ever eating slow-food that requires minimal effort to chew.

Which is why it was quite bizarre that I found myself in Australia yesterday, drinking a pot of Cavalier Pale at a pub called “The Den”. I was in Melbourne for 24hrs only, thanks to a last-minute decision by some friends to put me in their short film. I’d agreed to do this crazy thing on two conditions: that I could have a dressing gown between scenes, and that I could have one hour free in which to find a beer.

In truth I had been highly suspicious of the Cavalier – I thought it might just be some crappy Lion beer that The Den had rebranded as their own (you know how some pubs do that? Why oh why?) – but it turned out to be one of the best Australian beers I’ve tried.

It really reminded me of the Emerson’s Pilsner, even though I think the hops are different. It had a similar intense fruitiness, with those sauvignon blanc-like grassy notes as well. It was lovely in the mouth – smooth and well-balanced, with plenty of hoppy fruit flavour and a lengthy, but not aggressively bitter finish. If I hadn’t been tied to an utterly grueling schedule, I certainly would have had one more.

This post’s thank you goes to the one and only Kieran Haslett-Moore, who has commented a whopping 99 times and been a far more reliable fact-checker than Google. In fact, Kieran, maybe you can tell me why some pubs rebrand crap beer with their own in-house label, and how they’re even allowed to do that? That would bring you up to a far more satisfying 100 comments!

Published in: on July 30, 2012 at 9:19 pm  Comments (3)  

#329 Tuatara – Conehead

Tuatara ConeheadName: Conehead
Brewery: Tuatara (Waikanae, NZ)
Style: Wet-hopped Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%
Source: Thorndon New World

You probably think I’m getting quite bored of beer – drinking and writing about it every day – right? You might suspect I’m like Ryan Seacrest hosting his 11th season of American Idol… All teeth and thumbs up on the outside but getting closer to a psychotic episode with every Stevie Wonder rendition he hears. (That’s how I see him anyway, I think the cracks are really starting to show).

I’m getting off on a bit of a tangent, but what I meant to say is that I’m not bored of beer yet (not most of the time anyway), because I’m still discovering new things to get enthused about. Wet-hopped beers for example! Two months ago I didn’t know what they were, yet this is the third one to appear on the blog since then. And isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she wonderful?

The Tuatara Conehead reminded me of the wet-hopped beer I had from Garage Project, Oldham’s Farm. They were quite different beers, but they both had this distinct, delicious, hard to pin down flavour which I’m guessing is a little “wet-hop magic”.

Obviously I’ve never come in contact with marijuana before, but if I had put my nose in a bag of sticky, fresh buds, I might tell you that this beer reminded me of it. I also smelled citrus and passionfruit, plus something kind of toasty or baked, like treacle tart or an anzac biscuit.

In the mouth it was zingy and fresh, with fruity and herbaceous hop flavours balanced perfectly with caramel malt. What was so impressive about it was how stunningly bright, clean and crisp it was – as if this beer would actually cure a hangover rather than give me one.

Way to go Tuatara, you did a really great job! *she said with a thumbs up and a maniacal grin.* 

Published in: on July 17, 2012 at 8:38 pm  Comments (1)  
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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  

#272 Stone & Wood – Pacific Ale

Name: Pacific Ale Stone & Wood Pacific Ale
Brewery: Stone and Wood (Byron Bay, Australia)
Style: APA
ABV: 4.4%
Source: Some bottle shop on Brunswick St

As I may have mentioned five or six times, I’ve been away in Melbourne over the weekend attending the Great Australasian Beer Spectacular. If you didn’t go and are the jealous type, I suggest you don’t check the blog over the next few days so that you can avoid commentary on the 50 or so beers I sampled. (No, really I did.)

But first, I just need to rewind to Friday night and quickly tell you about this Stone & Wood beer. And listen up, because I think you actually can buy this in NZ (relevance! Hoorah!).

I thought it smelled of sweet juicy fruits – tangerine, pinnapple and mango – as well as a little saison-like yeast. In the mouth it was really crisp, light and dry, faintly sour and moderately bitter at the finish.

On one of Melbourne’s sweltering forty-something degree summer days, I don’t think you could do much better than a cold glass of Pacific Ale.  As it happened I drank it on one of Melbourne’s freezing eight-degree nights, and I abandoned it halfway through for a glass of red wine. (And before you go calling me a traiter just remember that I tried 50 beers over the next few days. 50!)

PS – I saw the Stone & Wood brewer at a Q & A session at GABS. I thought he was the brewer from the Mussel Inn so I went “Wooooo! Yeah!” (on account of him being a Kiwi) when they introduced him, which was embarrassing. Anyway, he had some good things to day despite not being from the same country as me.

Published in: on May 17, 2012 at 5:13 pm  Comments (1)  

#270 Galbraith’s feat. Joe Wood – Yakima Monster

Liberty Yakima Monster Name: Yakima Monster
Brewery: Galbraith’s/Liberty
Style: Cask conditioned APA
ABV: 6.0
Source:  Galbraith’s Ales

Does everybody know what time it is?

GALBRAITH’S CASK ALE SERIES TIME!

For this latest installment Ian teamed up with Joe Wood of Liberty, who I would call the ‘darling’ of the brewing community except that nobody who has sported handlebars can ever be called a darling.

Needless to say, he makes great beer (remember C!tra?), and I was super excited to see what he and Ian had come up with.

Like all Galbraith’s beers, Yakima Monster is brewed using whole hop flowers. Unlike all Galbraith’s beers, it’s brewed with a shitload of them. So many, in fact, that brewday took forever because the hops clogged the kettle (or some similar thing that happens in breweries).

The aroma was great – lots of citrus, grapefruit and pine along with some sweet floral notes. In the mouth it was dry and bitter, but with that soft creamy mouthfeel that cask ales tend to have. I totally forgot to make any notes or even take a picture during my first pint, but thankfully it was really drinkable so I was able to handle a second. The things I do in the name of education!

Published in: on May 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm  Comments (1)  

#264 Galbraith’s – Antipodean

Name: Antipodean
Brewery: Galbraith’s (Auckland, NZ)
Style: NZ Pale Ale
ABV: 5%
Source: Galbraith’s Ales

Last week I went to Galbraith’s to farewell some friends for the winter, and it just so happened that Tuatara were doing a bit of a tap takeover there that night.

They were launching  two limited release pale ales – Conehead and Mayday – along with the old American and Aotearoa Pale Ale’s.

Why then, pray tell, am I not writing about those exciting new beers?

The thing is, I go to Galbraith’s all the time as you know – usually for some beer launch or to taste some limited release collaboration brew – and so I never ever actually get around to writing about the Galbraith’s beers themselves.

They’ve also been very supportive of me and the blog over the past nine months (once I even got free chips), and I thought it was time I paid hommage.

(Also, so you know, I forgot to take a picture of the Tuatara Conehead, the Mayday I didn’t like (a strong sweet mess) and their other two I’d already blogged.)

I think the Antipodean tastes a  like an English-born New Zealander on holiday in America. The aroma is punchy and fresh, with notes of citrus (lemon and orange) grass and pine needles. In the mouth it is soft, creamy and sweetish at first – but don’t let that fool you – the bitterness arrives with a bang midway and the finish is dry with a hint of spice.

Unlike most of the big, fancy (and don’t get me wrong – often wonderful) beers I usually drink and write about from Galbraith’s, I could drink pint after pint of this.  I never do of course, because I get seduced by the guest taps and then run out of money, but rest assured I could if I had to. (Wanna bet? Let’s go.)

Published in: on May 10, 2012 at 6:06 pm  Comments (4)  
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#251 Deschutes – Red Chair NWPA

Name: Red Chair North West Pale Ale
Brewery: Deschutes Brewery (Oregon, USA)
Style: APA
ABV: 6.2%
Source: Matt Searle (Canada)

OMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!

Don’t worry – that’s not me getting all new-age and starting my blogpost with a meditative mantra, that’s the sound I made during the first (and second and third) sip of this beer.

The NWPA is another of those beers sent over to me from Canada by generous reader Matthew Searle, and I drank it the night before my birthday last week. It marked the beginning of the celebrations – or I should say, the beginning of the end – as I went on to drink far too much red wine and then spend the first half my birthday battling waves of nausea.

I’ve no doubt that the NPWA is to blame, because it was far too delicious for it’s own good. It had bootloads of the wonderful hop flavours classically found in APAs – grapefruit, pine resin, sweet honey and  floral notes, but without the accompanying paint-stripper mouthfeel that you might expect. It was sweeter and more balanced than most APAs, which which is why I liked it so much.

Coming up next… The Big Birthday Beer! (Thank God the hangover subsided just in time for me to drink one.)

Published in: on April 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm  Comments (1)  

#247 West Coast – International Pale Ale

West Coast International Pale Ale Name: International Pale Ale
Brewery: West Coast Brewing (Westport, NZ)
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5%
Source: West Coast Brewery

If I were Goldilocks and I had three beers (and when I’m tired on a Friday afternoon this is actually where my mind goes), I think this would be the baby one. The one that’s just right.

It wasn’t too bitter, it wasn’t too sweet, and unlike some American-style pale ale’s that are loaded with delicious fruity hop goodness, it wasn’t too alcoholic. Yes indeed, Goldilocks could drink it all up and still be sober enough to talk her way out of it when the bears got home. What am I talking about? I don’t know, but I do know I liked this beer.

Nonsense anecdotes aside, it was fruity (citrus, passionfruit), well-balanced with juicy malt, and more than drinkable. You might even say quaffable (particuarly if you’d witnessed me quaffing it). I’m so pleased I still have three bottles left!

In other news, it’s the Auckland Hop tomorrow, which you will all obviously be coming too unless you are a) really far away or b) nuts. See all you sane locals tomorrow!

Published in: on April 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#243 Dan’s Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Clone

Apologies for the delay in posting. I’ve been helping my Mum move house and also playing a lot of Peggle on my iPhone, so there really hasn’t been any time.

Remember a few months ago I wrote about my first homebrew – a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone from a book called “200 Clone brews”?

This beer is another home brewer (Dan Wilson)’s version. He used the exact same recipe, but I think he managed to get US Cascade hops whereas I had to use the NZ version.

I was really curious to try it, just to see how similar it was to mine. I had this feeling like maybe I had ballsed up my homebrew completely and, even though I liked it, had produced something way different than the recipe intended.

First I gave some to my dad without telling him what it was. “It’s good”, he said. “It’s ours.”

Indeed, it was very similar to our own SNPA clone, but had a stronger malt backing a better mouthfeel and a vastly superior head. I couldn’t actually try them side-by-side because mine has mysteriously all disappeared, but the hop profile was the same from memory.

Hooray! This means that although Dan did a better job than me, my beer can’t have been too far off the mark.

A game of Peggle to celebrate!

Published in: on April 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm  Comments (4)