#323 Stonecutter – Renaissance

Name: Stonecutter
Brewery: Renaissance
Style: Scotch Ale
Source: Vic Park NW
ABV: 7%

Although I won’t be able to post this for a couple of weeks (which means if you’re reading it now, you’re in the future!), I’m going to write this post up as I drink it so as not to lose grip of my current enthusiasm.

Ho-ly smoke! When did the Stonecutter get so peaty? Granted I haven’t had one for years, but I do not remember it being like this.

The aroma is pure peat – not so much smoke, but that band-aid, medicinal smell you get with Rex and Islay Malt whiskey’s . There’s caramel malt too, and some dark fruit of the forest chocolate.

In the mouth it’s medium bodied and gorgeously smooth. It starts out sweet, toffeeish and still peaty as hell, but this develops into a roasty bitter cocoa finish. I’m pouring my second glass now and taking overly-enthusiastic gulps, so to call it drinkable (bit of a dumb term anyway, no?) is something of an understatement.

I can’t really believe it took me so long to blog this one. Full marks!

Published in: on July 12, 2012 at 11:47 am  Comments (7)  

#214 Harrington’s – Big John

Name: Big John Special reserve
Brewery: Harrington’s (Chch, NZ)
Style: Scotch Ale
ABV: 6.5%
Source: My flatmate

OK! Today I am vowing to catch up on my blog once and for all, and to stay on top of it until the blog finishes in 150 days time. (While I’m at it I should also vow to start flossing my teeth, keep my room tidy and learn to drive, but hey – I’m only human.)

So, in order to do that I’m going to have to write a few short, crappy posts like this:

On Friday night I drank a Big John. I wanted to try it because it’s in a neat book I have called 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before you Die, and although the New Zealand beers seem kinda outdated (even though it was only published in 2010), it’s interesting to see which ones made it in there.

The Special Reserve is aged in bourbon barrels and it definetely shows. It tasted of whiskey with an ‘e’, chocolate, malt, caramel, vanilla, roasty espresso and a little oak. I thought it tasted really nice, but the found the mouthfeel to be a little on the thin and fizzy side. Good overall though.

Tagging out now, I have four more posts to write!

Published in: on March 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm  Comments (3)  

#141 Primus – Tempus Reserva Especial

20111229-181731.jpgName: Reserva Especial
Brewery: Cerveceria Primus (Mexico City, Mexico)
Style: Scottish Ale
ABV: 6.10%
Source: El Deposito (Mexico City)

Fun fact: Approximately 0.007% of the beer consumed in Mexico is craft (which is Sweet FA when you consider it’s about 2.5% in NZ), but if you know the right places to go, it feels like a whole lot more.

I didn’t know the right places to go. I had no f***ing clue in fact, and Google wasn’t much help. Thankfully the Twitterverse came to the rescue, and I was put in touch with Rodolfo – head brewer at Primus and part-owner of two craft beer bars in Mexico City.

I met him at one of these – El Deposito, which is a bar and off-licence located on a sunny corner of Condesa.

I kid you not, it had the best range of bottled beer I’ve ever seen in my life. Everything from Fullers to Mikkeller, Brew Dog to Shlenkerla to Rogue. (In fact, the only thing missing was New Zealand beers, but I’ll be emailing Rodolfo with a list of suggestions soon).

There was also a large – surprisingly large – range of Mexican craft beer.

We drank one of Rodolfo’s brews – the Tempus Reserva Especial (that means specical reserve – see how my Spanish is coming along!) – while eating real nachos dipped in a cheese and jalepeno sauce. (If I’m clinically obese by the time I return home in 3 weeks, you’ll know why.)

Rodolfo described it as an IPA crossed with a Scottish Ale, which in theory is my dream beer given that I’m currently torn between big malt and big hops. And it was good – treacley and mouth-coating like a scotch ale, but with gentle fruity hop flavours and a dry, slightly bitter finish – like an English IPA.

After that we moved on to neighbouring Roma, where the corner of Queretaro & Orizaba streets houses a cluster of specialty beer and mezcal outlets/bars. Between here and El Deposito we tried so many Mexican beers I lose count, but a few interesting ones stood out. There was a Macademia Brown Ale that an award-winning homebrewer dropped off to us (they have a yearly homebrewing championship as well as two major beer festivals each year), a beetroot ale, and a really gorgeous beer brewed with jasmine.

I came away impressed, drunk, and lugging a suitcase full of Mexican craft beer which Finn is now lugging around Mexico. I’ve been here four days now and I still haven’t had a Corona – except for one in a ‘Clamato’, which is beer mixed with clams and tomato juice. Big thanks to Rodolfo for introducing me to that, and to Mexico’s exciting craft beer scene. I should never have doubted it!

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 5:32 pm  Comments (1)  

#123 Belhaven – Wee Heavy

Belhaven - Wee Heavy Name: Wee Heavy
Brewery: Belhaven (Greene King)
Style: Scotch Ale
ABV: 6.5%
Source: Greytown liquor store

Just had a very, very important beerpiphany, and it came to me in a word as soon as I took a sip of this Belhaven Wee Heavy.


If I’m falling out of love with those super-hopped, saliva-stripping IPAs, then it’s probably because I’m falling in love with sticky, sweet, mouth-filling malt.

The Wee Heavy is a traditional Scotch Ale, and true to the style it is driven by malt, rather than hops. The result is something so wickedly indulgent, desserty and downright delicious that I’d defy anyone (even those weirdos that ‘don’t drink beer’) not to like it.

It smells like toffee and caramel and dark, sticky dried fruits – prunes, dates and raisins. It sounds cheesy – but it’s a smell that will make you smile, grin maniacally even, in the knowledge that you’re about to drink something truly pleasurable.

On the palate it’s every bit as sweet and delicious as the nose promises. The mouthfeel is fantastic – coating and buttery, but with enough carbonation to stop it from being cloying. At 6.5%, it’s also pretty boozy, which doesn’t exactly make things worse.

Honestly – everything about this beer will make you happy. It’s Christmas in a bottle.

Back, for a moment though, to IPAs – which I appear to have cast off a little hastily. I’m not actually over them – I love big hop aromas and I do enjoy some bitterness, I think I’m just going to be looking for a little more balance from now on. Some of those crazy West Coast IPAs are too bitter I think, but balanced IPAs (like Hop Zombie, Digital IPA, and Fullers IPA, to name a few) are just right for me.

Expect to see a lot more Scottish Ales, and malty beers is general on the blog for the next… I don’t know. Until I have another beerpiphany and fall in love with yeast, I suppose.

Published in: on December 12, 2011 at 10:05 am  Comments (3)