#353 Anheuser-Busch InBev – Budweiser

Name: Budweiser
Brewery: Anheuser-Busch InBev ( Missouri, USA)
Style: Pale Lager
ABV: 5%
Source: Emirates AKL>MLB

How ironic that I would hit rock bottom at an altitude of 37,947ft.

I’m writing this on an Emirates flight bound for Melbourne, and while everything about the service – the lemon-scented moist towelettes, fake stars on the roof – has been lovely, the beer selection is little short of dire.

The three choices were Heineken (blogged), Amstel Light (should’ve got that) and Budweiser – which I ended up ordering in the most mumbled embarrassed voice imaginable.

And you know what? I think it might actually be the worst beer so far.

Other terrible beers – like Pirate, Gordon Finest Gold and the insufferable lemon lime Sol – were at least so bad they were interesting (or so strong that I was too drunk to care), but Budweiser apparently has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

It poured the colour of – excuse my brashness – urine after you’ve been drinking beer all night, with a loose fluffy head that quickly died. (Suicide, I expect.)

On the nose I got notes of hay, sugar, and quite honestly sick. In the mouth it was sweet and watery, with a remarkable lack of flavor and no hop bite at the finish. Incredible to think this the best selling beer in the world, because it. is. rubbish. 

Today’s thank you has nothing to do with this beer, mercifully, but is going out to Stu Mckinlay of the Yeastie Boys. He is a) the blog’s second most prolific commenter (one to put on your CV, eh Stu?), and b) one of the people that got me properly interested in this NZ craft beer scene thing in the first place. Cheers and Slainte Mhath to you Stu.

Published in: on July 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm  Comments (3)  

#317 Rogue – XS Imperial Red Ale

Rogue XS Imperial Red Ale

Mini bottle. Not a giant head.

Name: Imperial Red Ale
Brewery: Rogue (Oregon, US)
Style: Imperial Amber Ale
ABV: 9%
Source:  Galbraith’s Alehouse

Micro-pigs. Mini hamburgers. Bonsais. Baby sneakers. Borrowers. Cocktail weenies.

Some things are meant to be small.

I don’t think that intro worked quite as well for me as it did in reverse for Epic, but you must agree that there’s something mystifyingly appealing about things that are 1/4 or so of their original size, no?

Or maybe it’s just me. Either way, I pretty much lost my shit squealing when I saw this 200 ml bottle of Rogue XS and (as you can maybe tell from the photo), would probably have loved it no matter what it tasted like.

But what a bonus! It was actually delicious as well, like they had crammed all the flavours of a full-sized beer into that tiny bottle, so that they would burst out, like a Jack in the Box, when I opened it.

The aroma was deep and rich, with notes of caramel, chocolate and  fruity hops. In the mouth it was malt-tastic without being overly sweet, with a little chocolatey roastiness and bitter hops cutting through the caramel. It was medium bodied and carbonated enough to not be sticky, so quite easy to drink despite the Imperial ABV.

At 9% it’s probably just as well there was only 200mls of it, but still it didn’t feel like quite enough. It was like when you think you’ve finished your coffee but there’s still one sip in the cup, and you can feel that something’s not quite right. I just wanted one more sip. Maybe two. Maybe 130 more mls. …

Published in: on July 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

#300 Bear Republic – Pete Brown Tribute Ale

Name: Tribute Ale
Brewer: Bear Republic (Healdsburg, California USA)
Style: American Brown Ale
ABV: 6.5%
Source: Galbraith’s Alehouse

Whoops, that was close.

I was about to make a total ass of myself by banging on about Pete Brown, the famous beer writer who I assumed this beer was named after, but I’ve just realised it was a different Pete Brown entirely – a popular sales rep for Bear Republic who died in 2002. (Hence the 1949- 2002 on the label. I did think it was a bit odd/sinister that they would imply the writer was dead when he’s clearly still blogging.)

Anyway, instead I’ll just make a mild ass of myself by admitting that once again I managed to half-freeze an expensive American beer. It wasn’t quite at the slushy stage, but if you look closely at the photo you can see little ice chunks floating beneath the foam. I then stuck it in front of the heater before I drank it, which made the glass extremely hot and the beer inside lukewarm.

Despite having suffered some serious temperature abuse, the lovely sticky brown sugar/toffee/roasted malt flavours of this beer remained intact. There was something very coke-like about it actually – partly from the bubbles, and partly the combination of sweet caramello, fruit and bitter roasty malts. If it had been colder it would have been more refreshing, but I can hardly blame the beer for that now can I?

Published in: on June 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

#298 Dogfish Head – 60 Minute IPA

Name: 60 Minute IPA
Brewery: Dogfish Head (Delaware, USA)
Style: IPA
ABV: 6%
Source: O’Carrolls Freehouse

Ahoy and apologies for the short posting hiatus – I spent the weekend in Rotorua submerged in hot water/cool Croucher beer, and neither were terribly conducive to writing.

I had this the other night at O’Carrolls, which seems to have more and more American beer (and less old men drinking Guinness?) every time I go in. It was tasty, although probably not the best choice for a first drink of the night. When will I learn that an IPA never is?

It poured a bright orangey-gold, and the aroma was of sharp citrus (grapefruit and lemon?), pine needles and sweet caramel. In the mouth there was a pretty dominant malt presence, which softened the resinous hops out with a honey sweetness. It was crisp and refreshing, but the finish was just a tad too bitter for my liking.

After the IPA and a Rennaissance Pilsner (which was yum, I should have written about that really) I switched to red wine for the rest of the night. Beerpiphany number #122: keep your hops and grapes apart – especially if you have to go ball dress shopping with your sister in the morning. Yeuch. 

Published in: on June 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm  Comments (1)  

#286 Sierra Nevada – Big Foot

Name: Big Foot
Brewery: Sierra Nevada (Chico, CA, USA)
Style: Barley Wine
ABV: 9.6%
Source: Galbraith’s Ales

Question: What do you get when you mix forgetfulness and impatience?
Answer: Frozen beer.

Yes, it’s often the case that  two of my less-than-desirable qualities  team up to produce beer popsicles, impatience putting the beer in the freezer in the first place, forgetfulness ensuring it turns solid.

Usually when this happens I just declare it a loss, throw the beer out and put something else in the freezer (this time setting an alarm on my phone), but with this one I had two reasons not to do that. For one, it wasn’t frozen solid – It was at that slushy stage where you can actually pour it – and two, it was a motherflippin’ Sierra Nevada Barley Wine!

By the time I drank the beer it had melted, but it was still really cold – about the temperature that most bars serve their lager. Now, usually I like my beer at a toasty 10 degrees so that I can actually taste it – but I gotta say, there was something really nice about having this big sweet beer so chilled. I wouldn’t usually describe a Barley Wine as refreshing, but boy, was I refreshed!

Also, this is probably a great beer at every temperature. It had masses of classic Sierra Nevada hop aromas – bitter grapefruit pith and pine, as well as something a little sweet and juicy. In the mouth it was thick, chewy (and of course, slightly icy) with lots of toffee caramel malt cushioning the hops and booze.

On a side note, why are there not more alcoholic popsicles in my life? These all look delicious, and an I’m sure an iced Barley Wine would fit right in…

Published in: on June 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm  Comments (4)  

#262 21st Amendment – Back in Black

Name: Back in Black
Brewery: 21st Amendment (contracted to Cold Spring Brewery, San Fran)
Style: Black IPA
ABV: 6.8%
Source: Matthew Searle (Canada)

As with the last post, I am still rushing to get to a beer launch (Galbraith’s feat. Jo Wood – Yakima Monster!) so will not afford this post my usual ramblings and segues…

This is another of the beer’s sent to me by Matthew Searle in Canada. It’s a hoppy IPA in a can – ’nuff said.

Except unfortunately not ’nuff said, because what kind of beer blogger would I be if I left it there? I’d be a beer tweeter instead, which while still very admirable is not quite as- SEGUING ALICE, SEGUING.

Ths is the best black IPA I’ve had since the Yeastie Boys’. I’m tempted to say I like it more than theirs because it’s in a can, but I’m probably going to run into Yeastie Sam if I ever make it to this bloody launch so I won’t.

It really was delicious. It smelled of roasty dark malt and coffee, but with American Pale Ale hop notes of grapefruit and pine resin. In the mouth it was sweet and slightly chocolaty at first, before a dry bitterness took over for the finish. The body was creamy, and the balance of bitter and sweet was beautiful.

OK, so I didn’t actually like it quite as much as PKB (I think the PKB body is fatter, which I like), but the can bought the BIB damn close. Now off, off I go before I think of anything else to say!

Published in: on May 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm  Comments (6)  

#255 Left Coast – Hop Juice

Raffe and Richard with Hop JuiceName: Hop Juice
Brewery: Left Coast (Del Mar, CA, USA)
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.4%
Source: O’Carrolls Freehouse

Last Saturday I went on a pub crawl called The Auckland Hop. The photo on the right was taken about six hours into said Hop, and gives you a fairly good indication of how it was going at the time.

Note the cheery grins on the faces of Richard and Raffe, the enthusastic thumb gestures, and the off-kilter frame of the photograph. At the centre of it all is a beer that spells it out: I was on the Hop, and I was getting a bit Juiced.

Usually I would feel guilty about spending a sunny afternoon drinking beer in various pubs, but because I had a proper brochure and a map to follow, it felt more official and somehow justified.

In fact, I think this may have been my most productive Saturday ever. By the time I reached O’Carrolls I had already tried three new beers at Galbraith’s, toured the ancient Shakespeare brewery with Ben Middlemiss,  drunk Epic with Luke at Corner Bar, and eaten my share of fried carbs at all three venues.

I’d had plenty of nice beers by the time I reached O’Carrolls, but I was craving something bigger. Something more extreme. Something Imperial.

The Hop Juice seemed like the obvious thing, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.  It had an awesome citrus/pine hop aroma, but in the mouth it was really sticky and sweet before the resiny bitterness cut in. I’m sure I’d had too many beers to properly taste things at that stage anyway, but it wasn’t quite the bitter punch in the kisser I was after. That said, I can imagine that on a fresh palate it might taste amazing. I think I have another bottle of this at home, so in the name of proper research I vow to drink it and let you know.

The Hop was a brilliant success and Kate Jordan deserves a huge round of applause  beer for orchestrating the whole thing. Big thanks also to the Brewery Britomart for saving my hangover and feeding us at the end of the night.

In other news, we’re having a Mexican party at my flat tonight which can only mean one thing – time to bust out the michelaaaaaaadas! 

Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 5:07 pm  Comments (3)  

#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)


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)  

#222 Flying Dog – Raging Bitch

Flying Dog Raging BitchName: Raging Bitch
Brewery: Flying Dog (Maryland, USA)
Style: Belgian-style IPA
ABV: 8.3%
Source: The Beer Store 

Should I be offended/concerned that of the 12 beers my dad recently sent me from The Beer Store, one was called Trashy Blonde, and another Raging Bitch? Was he trying to tell me something?

Actually, names like this are not at all unusual in the beer world. A quick squiz at Ratebeer tells me that there are at least 40 brews that contain the word ‘bitch’, many of which would be quite awkward to order in a bar (“Can I have a Bitch Please, please?”), along with countless references to animal droppings, genitalia, fornication…. there really is no limit.

And apologies for all the swears to my grandparents who, against their better judgement have recently become followers, but this bitch was seriously bitchin’.

This is my ideal IPA. It had loads of American hop sass (both tropical and citrus/piney), squarely matched with sweet, mouth-filling, caramel malt. It had a little spice, some really faint Belgian characteristics from the yeast, a rich full mouthfeel and lingering bitterness at the finish.

Usually with beers this strong I say something like “you’d only want to drink one, with food and friends etc etc”, but not this time.

It’s so delicious that I’d advise buying at least two, and then throwing your friends a “bitch please!” if they ask for even one sip.

Published in: on March 22, 2012 at 4:38 pm  Comments (2)  

#212 Kona – Fire Rock Pale Ale

Kona Fire Rock Pale AleName: Fire Rock Pale Ale
Brewery: Kona Brewing Co. (Kailua Kona, Hawaii)
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.9%
Source: The Beer Store

This beer was an absolute pleasure to drink, mostly because it transported me back to the second happiest place on earth.

Last winter me and my sister were lucky enough to tag along on our Mum’s honeymoon in Hawaii (second only to Disneyland on the list of happy destinations), and while we were there we washed our fish tacos, fruit salads and whatever other American-Pacific delights we were eating down with Kona beers.

I don’t think we actually had the Pale Ale – this was much better than the beers I remember drinking – but it doesn’t matter. Just the sight of the bottle is enough to take me back to the lush tropical gardens, rolling blue surf, ridiculously oversized restaurant meals…

But enough bragging about the fact I went to Hawaii.

This beer is a sweet, tasty American Pale Ale. It had classic cascade hop flavours of grapefruit and pine, but the malt (toasty caramel) was what dominated. It was an enjoyable, unchallenging beer and – much like my Hawaiian holiday – was over much too quickly.

Published in: on March 10, 2012 at 7:58 pm  Comments (1)