#207 Yeastie Boys – xeRRex

Name: xeRRex
Brewery: Yeastie Boys (Akl/Wgtn)
Style: Imperial Smoked Ale (?)
Source: Yeastie Boys
ABV: 10%

On Friday night I took a bottle of xeRRex around to my brother’s flat for a little tasting. I captured part of a conversation that ran for about 10 minutes. Do I need to say any more?

For the record – I liked it, but prefer the OG Rex Attitude. This one was a little on the sweet side for me and the fact that it coated my mouth more made me feel afterwards like I’d just smoked a packet of cigarettes. At the end of the day though, any beer that can generate as much conversation/argument as this one did is obviously pretty special.

PS – Had a Yeastie Boys Hud-a-Wa that same night – it was sensational! Quite different to the last one that I drank and reviewed on this blog. I’m not sure if the batch I had is the one that’s on the shelves at the moment, but if it is I’ll be stocking up!

Published in: on March 5, 2012 at 3:44 pm  Comments (6)  

#180 Galbraith’s & 8 Wired – The Big Smoke

8 Wired Galbraith's The Big SmokeName: The Big Smoke
Brewery: Galbraith’s & 8 Wired
Style: Porter
ABV: 6.8%
Source: Galbraith Ales

Finally, back at my beloved Galbraith’s after about two months off. It really has been way too long.

I’ve posted a couple of times before about the Galbraith’s Great Brewer Cask series, where every few months Galbraith’s teams up with a New Zealand brewery to make a cask conditioned version of one of their beers. It’s a genius idea, and the results are always delicious.

There was never any question that this one would be great – it’s a collaboration between Galbraith’s and 8 Wired for Christ’s sake – but I still had to get along to the pub to try it. Just to make sure. 

Happily I can report that it is is excellent. I won’t bang on too much because it’s probably all gone now and you’d only get jealous (also I didn’t take any notes), but I will just say that I found it to be a softer, smoother, smokier version of the original, which you can read my thoughts on here.

It’s interesting that Galbraith’s and Soren chose to brew a porter in the middle of summer when usually people want crisper, lighter beers when it’s hot. Actually though, I think it worked perfectly.  The smoky bonfire taste is summery in a way, and the roasty bitterness made it quite refreshing. And the end of the day, I guess there are  no rules about what we should drink and when… We’ve just gotta do what feels right, man.

Published in: on February 6, 2012 at 10:02 pm  Comments (3)  
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#67 Brauerei Heller – Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier

Aecht Schlenkerla RauchbierName: Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock
Brewery: Brauerei Heller (Bamburg, Germany)
Style: Smoked
ABV: 5.1%
Source: Epic Beer HQ via “The Mule”

You can probably tell instantly that this photograph – with it’s perfect composition and notable depth of field – wasn’t taken by me.  No, I had to steal this one from the internet, because the only actual photographic evidence that I have of me drinking this beer is this:

Luke with Rauchbier

That’s not me FYI (I’m not that photogenic) – that’s Luke from Epic doing his best ever cute-face with the Rauchbier.

My memories of the beer are unfortunately about as hazy as that photograph. It was actually the last of many, many beers I tried on Friday afternoon at one of Epic’s “mule tastings” – which involved trying lots of incredible beer that their friend  (The Mule) had bought back from America. Probably the best form of ‘research’ I’ve ever witnessed:

Before I got to the Rauchbier...

I picked the Rauchbier to be the star of post #67 because a) it was the last one I tried and so can kind of remember it and b) because it was the one that stood out for me as being the most delicious.

I’ve had a few different smoked beers before and always loved them, but this was the first one I’d ever tried from the home of smoked beers, Bamberg in Germany. I think this one might even be the most famous example of the style – so it’s no wonder then that it was f***king delicious.

As I say my memories are hazy – but I do recall that it was incredibly meaty – like smoked ham hock in a glass. It had a creamy mouthfeel and a lovely caramel sweetness that carried the campfire/meat flavours beautifully. I only had a small glass as there were quite a few of us splitting it, but if I come across another bottle I’m not going to share it with ANYONE.

Cheers to Luke, Kelly and The Mule for all the great beers. Happy to help with the research any time!

Published in: on October 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm  Comments (2)  
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#45 Epic/Dogfish Head – Portamarillo

Epic and Dogfish PortamarilloName: Portamarillo
Brewery: Epic (Auckland, New Zealand) & Dogfish Head (Delaware, USA)
Style: Tamarillo Smoked Porter
ABV: 7%

Look who finally got a Portamarillo! This is the beer that I wasted most of my lunch break last Friday trying to find before eventually settling for a Moa Methode. Thankfully the boys from Epic answered my distress call and kindly donated me this bottle.

I was really excited about trying this beer – and not just because it played hard to get. It’s the lovechild of two really exciting breweries – Epic and Dogfish Head in the U.S.A – and it’s got a cool Spanish-sounding name. It’s not Spanish though (I wish it was, I need to learn Spanish before I go to Mexico in December and all I can say so far is “My donkey is dead”*), but is an appreviation of tamarillo-porter. It’s basically a Kiwi Summer in a glass –  brewed using tamarillos that were smoked over pohutukawa chips.

Although I think of porters to be a Wintery thing, there are a few summery elements to the aroma. One is Christmas – dark chocolate and caramel, and the other is the subtle whiff of campfire smoke – bits of bleached driftwood crackling in the flames, maybe a hunk of meat sizzling on a grill…

The smoke gets stronger on the tongue –  not OTT but definitely there – and is of the peaty/campfire variety. There’s also roasted coffee beans, cocoa, a slight hint of sourness (the tamarillo?), and a bitter, dry finish. It’s actually this dry finish that made me think of the tamarillos the most. I  used to have them in my lunch a lot as a kid and I’d always bite into the skin which contained lots of tannin. The difference is that that was gross and this is good.

The mouthfeel was just right – neither thick nor watery, just velvety smooth and refreshing.

Overall I really liked this porter, and my sister who I shared it with did too. I’m a sucker for any kind of smoky beer, but I particularly like how this one delivered a lot of flavour without being too overbearing. Another cool thing is that I got through the whole post without using the word “hoppy” – which just goes to show that Epic are capable of showing restraint in this department. I hope they make some more experimental brews like this, and I hope there’s more of it around next time!

*  Il mio asino è guasto

Published in: on September 23, 2011 at 11:08 am  Comments (1)  
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#26 Invercargill Brewery Smokin’ Bishop (2008)

Invercargill Smokin' Bishop 2008Name: Smokin’ Bishop (2008 Vintage)
Brewery: Invercargill Brewery
Style: Smoked Bock
ABV: 7%
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.

Bamberg, anyone?

Published in: on September 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

#4 Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude

Yeastie Boys Rex AttitudeName: Rex Attitude
Brewer: Yeastie Boys (Wellington, NZ)
Style: Peat smoked ale
ABV: 7%

“They said it couldn’t be done, that it would be undrinkable, that we couldn’t use more than 5% heavy peated malt in a beer. So we carefully considered their advice and went with 100% instead.” – Yeastie Boys website.

Is it possible to have a crush on a beer? If it is then I’m crushing hard for Mr. Attitude.

I first met Rex last weekend at Beervana, just after running into green-trousered Yeastie Boy Stu McKinlay. Stu was exuding a strong smoky aroma which he attributed to his Logan Brown venison burger, but I suspect that it may actually have been Rex seeping from his pores.

Call it the thrill of the new, but I was genuinely ecstatic when I first tasted this beer. It’s a lot like single malt whiskey – the peaty varieties like Laphroaig – but there’s much more to it. It’s a night I spent camping on Makara beach as a kid. It’s a foul tar-based shampoo that my stepmum uses. It’s burning tyres or charred barbecued aubergine, and an abomination or genius depending on who you ask.

I just finished my first full bottle and I honestly think Rex is lovely. It’s intense without being aggressive, slightly sweet and floral, and surprisingly refreshing. I’d drink it with kippers or smoky bacon for breakfast, or in front of the fire late at night.

I love you Rex. Call me.

PS: You can listen to this while you drink it if you want. I…. Probably won’t.

Published in: on August 12, 2011 at 6:05 am  Comments (4)