Name: Smokin’ Bishop (2008 Vintage)
Brewery: Invercargill Brewery
Style: Smoked Bock
Source: Regional Wines
OK, long sentimental rant coming up so you might want to skip this post or get comfortable.
This was one of the first beers, if not the first beer that ever made me go “Holy shit! That’s f**king amazing!” – or something to that effect. It wasn’t that it was the nicest tasting beer I’d ever had (although it was up there), but it made me realise how limitless the possibilities were when it came to the different ways a beer could taste.
I think my first Smokin’ Bishop was the 2009 vintage. I remember I had only learned about the smoky Rauchbier style a few weeks beforehand, and had been dreaming of a pilgrimage to it’s home in Bamberg to try one. Then lo and behold, it turned out there was some being made in little ol’ NZ – in Invercargill no less!
It was at Beervana that I first had it. I’ll always remember that delicious, bacony/campfire taste and how it stood out from everything else I tried that day. I went away from raving about it to anyone who’d listen, but had trouble finding much more to buy.
I went back to Beervana this year and made a B-line for the Southern section, hoping to re-live my first time with the Bishop. It was good, very good, but not as smoky or special as I’d remembered it. Had the recipe changed, or was it just that the thrill of the new was gone?
When I saw last week that Regional Wines was selling the 2008 Smokin’ Bishop I got on the phone to my Wellington source (mum) and asked her to kindly buy me a bottle ASAP. That’s the one in the picture, with the first ‘Vintage’ sticker I’ve ever seen on a beer. So fancy!
I don’t know if it’s this particular batch, whether it improved over the 3 years, or whether my memory is skewed, but I’m quite sure this is the best Smokin’ Bishop I’ve ever had. It’s beautifully smoky in a not-safe-for-vegetarians kind of way, but also rich and malty with a full, creamy mouthfeel.
In short: it’s f**king amazing!
I’m sure that’s the last ’08 Smokin Bishop I’ll ever have and (cue violins) it’ll probably be a while before I find a smoky beer to love like that again.