#347 Hallertau – Funkonnay

Alice Galletly

Posing with Funkonnay. (See end of post for explanation.)

Name: Funkonnay
Hallertau (Auckland, NZ)
Sour Ale
The Wine Vault, Richmond Rd

I just narrowly dodged a bullet this week – the bullet being a scenario whereby I did not realise Funkonnay existed, and went on about my daily life while it completely sold out.

Thank God (by which I mean Twitter) that didn’t happen.

We all know I like to make sweeping, grandiose claims, but Funkonnay is my favorite New Zealand beer right now. For one: it’s the first New Zealand sour beer I’ve ever tried, and two: it’s completely effin’ delicious.

Ageing it in chardonnay barrels was, in my mind, a very classy move. Personally I’m a big fan of those big oaky chardonnays that haven’t been cool since about ’91, and the nose on this beer took me right back to Wall Street. (I like to imagine I was a big time stockbroker like Patrick Bateman in the early 90s, minus all the killing bits.)

As well as chardonnay, there were all sorts of other funky things going on in the aroma. Someone recently described it as “the essence of rotting mandarins,” and I can totally see where they’re coming from. The brett gives off this mouldy smell that reminds me of finding old school lunches in some god-forsaken corner of my room, only I swear to you, in this case it wasn’t gross.

Olivia probably described the palate best when she said “Oh my fucking God. It’s like the nicest wine I’ve ever had.”

To expand on that (not that I really need to), it was soft and creamy and just gently sour, with low carbonation and a slightly prickly sherbet tingle at the finish. It was both weird as hell and not scary at all, obviously, as Olivia had never had a sour before and she loved it.

And finally, please excuse the posey glamour shot accompanying this post. Olivia took some photos of me drinking Funkonnay to go with another piece of beer writing I did for a paper, and we forgot to get the regular beer photo for the blog. (Granted, my hair does look quite good for once, but it would have been nice to show you the cool bottle.)

Published in: on July 26, 2012 at 12:02 am  Comments (5)  

#309 Rodenbach – Grand Cru

Rodenbach Grand CruName: Grand Cru
Brewery: Rodenbach (Palm) (Roeselare, Belgium)
Style: Sour Ale
ABV: 6%
Source: Galbraith’s Alehouse

There are beers make wonderful husbands, beers that are only good for one-night-stands, and then… Then there are sours.

A sour is the absolute worst kind of lover. They’re the ones that live in mysterious and far-flung places, that never email or remember your birthday, that eventually show up unannounced on your doorstep with stories about how they’ve been held hostage in North Korea for the past six months and that’s why they never answered your Skype calls.

And even though you swore you wouldn’t, you’ll be charmed by his fancy European accents and exotic musky perfume, and once again you’ll let a sour into your home and heart. You’ll fall head-over-heels, just like every other time, and when you wake up in the morning he’ll be gone.

Goddamn those beautiful bastards.

What I’m getting at (with this analogy that seems oddly revealing/specific but actually isn’t, no really), is that sours to me are the most elusive beers of all. Every time I have a really good one it blows my mind, and then I spend the next three months wondering where my next sip’s coming from.

As far as I know no NZ brewery has ever made a sour (see comments section for inevitable correction), or at least none are making them right now. They’re tricky bastards to brew, apparently, because the wild yeast and bacteria that’s needed can infect all the other beer in the brewery.

Barely anyone stocks them either, so when I start getting a hankering for that mouth-puckering thrill that only a sour can deliver, sucking a lemon is generally my only option.

Imagine my delight then, when I heard that one of those good-looking rogues was not only in town, but hanging out at my favorite bar.

It was everything I’d been longing for. The aroma was intensely vinegary, with oak and a light waft of fresh cherries. In the mouth there was some sweetness, which I need in a sour, less vinegar than on the nose and more fruit. Despite the sweetness it was still thrillingly tart, to the extent that the memory alone is causing a saliva flood in my mouth.

I would have loved to try this beer in a year or more’s time to see what age had done to the young fruit notes, but do you think the bastard stuck around?

He arrived at Galbraith’s on the Saturday and by Monday night he was gone – leaving me with nothing but his photograph and a lemon to suck.

Published in: on June 28, 2012 at 6:18 pm  Comments (3)  

#297 Bacchus – Frambozenbier

Name: Frambozenbier
Brewery: Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck (Ingelmunster, Belgium)
Style: Fruit beer/Sour Ale
ABV: 5%
Source: The Beer Store

I was saving this raspberry beer for a special occasion, because it came wrapped in pretty pink and white paper like a present. That special occasion came on Friday night when I found myself sitting in bed with a bowl of fejoa crumble watching 30 Rock. What an amazingly good time I am having, I thought. This calls for a celebration.

I vaguely  remember a time when I used to flippantly say “Oh I don’t like fruit beer, they’re all too sweet”, but now I realise I was stupid to judge an entire style, actually multiple styles, based on my one experience of Kriek at the Belgian Beer Cafe.

Now I openly love fruit beer, and I especially love the intense aroma and sour edge that raspberries impart. This version was a lovely accompaniment to my similarly sweet ‘n’ sour crumble (mostly because they both just tasted nice), and it completed the sense of pure indulgence that TV/dessert in bed had started.

The aroma was of freshly-picked raspberries, raspberries, and more raspberries. In the mouth there was a little burst of tartness that made my saliva glands jump, but then it was really quite thick and sweet, like raspberry jam. It wasn’t my idea of a perfect fruit beer – it wasn’t sour enough for that, but if I’d had it really chilled on a summers day I think it would have been excellent.

And so that you can see what the beer looked like before I unwrapped it, here’s a piccy I stole from the internet. Lovely innit?

Published in: on June 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm  Comments (1)  

#159 Russian River – Consecration

Name: Consecration
Brewery: Russian River
Style: Sour Ale
ABV: 10%
Source: Blue Palms Brew (Hollywood, LA)

A Sour Ale aged in oak barrels with currents? Cut It Out!

I knew this was going to be one of my favourite beers before I even tried it. I had already purchased it once before – for about $35 from beerstore.co.nz for my Dad’s birthday – but I had only ever tasted it in my dreams.

And what sweet, sweet (and also sour) dreams they were.

I had been expecting a sour bomb, but what I got was more like a sweet, oaky dessert wine with a tangy, sour finish. Flavours were of currants, cherries, oak, vanilla – and something a bit old, leather or books perhaps.  It was beautifully balanced, refreshing, and also f***king strong.

So strong that 5 minutes after I finished it I deteriorated – almost instantly – into a blabbering drunken  mess and had to go home. (I’d also had a tasting paddle and three pints of IPA beforehand, seemingly getting way too excited about being in a craft beer capital and trying to drink all the beer in LA at once. Big mistake.)

Bloody amazing beer though!

Published in: on January 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm  Comments (3)