#343 Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

Young's Double Chocolate Stout Name: Double Chocolate Stout
Brewery: Wells & Youngs (Bedford, England)
ABV: 5.2%
Source: Countdown Victoria St

The first time I ever went to the Malthouse in Wellington, this is the beer that I drank.

I remember I was overwhelmed/over-excited by the menu and couldn’t decide what to get. One of the staff, sensing that I needed some guidance, asked if I liked chocolate – to which I probably said something clever like: “aduuuuuuuh“.

He suggested I get this, and was right on the money. The concept of putting chocolate in beer was still a complete mind-bender to me then (If  you’d told me about cock ale I would have fainted), and the sheer novelty combined with the sheer chocolateness of it won me over.

This glass was the first I’ve had since then (I’d soon after discovered Renaissance Craftsman which became my go-to chocolate beer), and I’m pleased to report I still found it quite lovely.

On the nose it smelled of toasted grain, hot chocolate, and a little hint of coffee. In the mouth there was a moment of sweet milk chocolate, which gave way to building roasty flavours and a gentle bitter finish. It was smooth, dry, and not nearly as sweet as you might expect for a chocolate beer.

Without wanting to getting too soppy, drinking this beer and thinking about my first trip to the Malthouse made me feel a little teensy pang of nostalgia. My relationship with beer was simpler back then – I was impressed by everything (OK, so that hasn’t changed a lot) and I had this little red notebook that I would drunkenly write really bad notes about the beer in.

On second thoughts, perhaps nothing’s changed at all.


Published in: on July 23, 2012 at 9:02 pm  Comments (2)  

#326 St James Gate – Guinness Draught

Name: Guinness Draught
Brewery: St James Gate (Dublin, Ireland)
Style: Dry Stout
ABV:  4.1%
Source: Molly Malone’s Waiheke

St James what now? I don’t know about you, but I was surprised to find that one of the most famous beers in the world is made by a brewery I’ve never heard of.  I always just thought Guinness came from the Guinness fairy or leprechaun… The things this blog has taught me!

Before I became the craft beer aficionado that I am today (says she who did not know who brewed Guinness), I used to think this beer was about as fancy as it got. I loved and still do love the creamy, silky head that you get with a Guinness on tap, and compared to a lot of the beers I was first introduced to, it actually had some character. I remember friends in London talking Guinness as if it was some kind of mystical protein shake: “It’s a meal in a glass,” they would say, or, “did you know you can survive off only Guinness for a month?”

This particular glass – which I drank on a raging Saturday night with Mum and her husband John at Molly’s – did not come from the tap. It came from a bottle, which I always thought was the worst kind of Guinness, but now I’m actually not so sure.

On the nose it smelled mostly of malt. Not sweet syrupy malt, but dry, uncooked grain, and perhaps a little soy. In the mouth it was medium-sweet with flavours of lightly roasted malt and a little espresso, and a lightly bitter roasty finish. It didn’t seem to be was watery or thin as Guinness on tap – but it’s still far from being a stout you could eat with a fork.

After drinking so many amazing stouts in the past year Guinness does seem pretty ho-hum, but I’ll always have a soft spot for it. It’s one of the beers Dad always had in the fridge when I was a kid, and it’s one of the beers I stole from Dad’s fridge when I was a teenager. Who needs depth and mouthfeel when you have memories like that?

Published in: on July 16, 2012 at 3:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

#325 The Kernel – Double Citra IPA

The Kernel Double Citra IPAName: Double Citra
Brewery: The Kernel (London, England)
Style: DIPA
ABV: 9.8%
Source: Georgia Bollinger

I don’t even know how to begin this post, because I’m worried I’ll get overly emotional and gushy and start weeping into my keyboard, or worse, write the whole thing in caps and end each! word! with! an! explanation! mark! and scare off any readers from coming back.

*Deep breath*

So just casually, this was an amazing IPA and maybe the second best I’ve ever tried after Pliny the Elder, and it was JUST SO DELICIOUS (oh no) THAT I CAN STILL TASTE IT 2 WEEKS LATER AND IT TASTES LIKE RAINBOWS!!!

Ok, let me try again. This beer – it was more like a nectar than a beer. A delicious alcoholic nectar that assaulted my nostrils with tangerine and mango and pineapple and pine needles and yes, a little bit of cat pee but only in a good way.

In the mouth it was sticky and smooth, with sweet notes of caramel and juicy tropical fruit building towards an epic resinous bitter finish. The flavours lingered on my tongue until I cut them off with dumplings (I was at Barilla) but not even Will Smith himself could erase the sweet taste from my memory…

Thank you SO! MUCH! to my lovely friend Georgia for sending this back from the UK for me. And if anyone else has friends visiting from the Motherland, I highly recommend nagging them to pop a bottle of Kernel beer in their bag. (And then I highly recommend that you send it on to me. Thanks!)

Published in: on July 12, 2012 at 4:01 pm  Comments (1)  

#315 Fuller’s – Vintage Ale 2010

Fullers Vintage Ale Name: Vintage Ale
Brewery: Fuller’s ( London, England)
Style: English Strong Ale
ABV: 8.5%
Source: The Beer Store

Hi, and sorry in advance about this rushed post, but I’ve got a ferry to catch!

Nobody will be in the least bit surprised to hear I loved this Vintage Ale. In my mind, ageing an English Strong Ale is like adding bacon to macaroni cheese – making a good thing irresistible.

This one had aromas of ripe apricots, toffee, fortified wine,  and a whiff of alcohol. In the mouth it was full and malty, with fruity notes adding complexity to what otherwise could have been a bit too much of an alcohol-fest. Cutting through the sweet malt were resinous hops, which lead to a bitter finish and made me thirsty for the next sip.

So thirsty in fact that I drank all of it myself and had a mild hangover  the next morning, but that’s what you get when you add bacon to macaroni. Nobody can expect you to act reasonably.

OK – happy Friday afternoon everyone! I hope your first beer is in the fridge (and not the freezer) already.

Published in: on July 6, 2012 at 4:11 pm  Comments (1)  

#299 The Kernel – Imperial Brown Stout

The Kernel Imperial Brown StoutName: Imperial Brown Stout London 1856
Brewery: The Kernel (London, 1856)
Style: Imperial Brown Stout
ABV: 9.8%
Source: Georgia Bollinger

I’d like to say I intentionally drank this fabulous beer to mark my 300th, but in actual fact I only realised this was número trescientos (yes, saying things in italicized Spanish is a thing I do now) after I’d poured it. Still, what a cracking  way to celebrate!

My friend Georgia who lives in London sent this and another Kernel beer back to NZ with her mum for me. It was such a nice surprise – I didn’t even know she read the blog and I still don’t know how she knew to get me Kernel beers. That brewery is right at the very top of my UK Most Wanted list.

The Imperial Brown Stout was black and opaque, and it glugged thickly into my glass to create the tiniest tan head. The aroma was deep and rich, with notes of roasted coffee, vanilla, and milk chocolate. In the mouth it tasted of roasty malts – more coffee and chocolate, with savory licorice and spice at its edges.  It didn’t bombard me with a million different flavors like some imperial stouts do – and I think that worked in its favor. What really threw this out of the ballpark though, was the mouthfeel. It was thick and smoother than Barry White, like chocolate milk but with a pleasing alcohol heat. I would almost go as far as to call this (dare I say it?) a perfect stout. 

Thanks so much to the lovely Georgia Bollinger for sending me this. A friend in need is a friend indeed – but a friend who sends you kick-ass beers from the other side of the world is better.

Published in: on June 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm  Comments (3)  

#285 Timothy Taylor – Landlord

Name: LandlordTimothy Taylor Landlord
Brewery: Timothy Taylor
Style: English Bitter
ABV: 4.3%
Source: Stephen at Galbraith’s

Remember how way back at the beginning of the blog I used to write about some beers as if they were love interests?

Admittedly that was partly because I didn’t know how to give actual descriptions of beer, and so “it’s the kind of beer you could introduce to your friends to” was about as good as I could manage, but also I was ‘fresher’ back then. Every beer was a new taste sensation, and I fell head over heels fairly often.

And yet, this dried up old prune is in the first flush of  love again. I’ve decided that Timothy Taylor’s Landlord, whoever he is, is to be my second husband*after Bookbinder – although like the former he will still be occasionally cheated on by the likes of Rex Attitude.

I knew it was marriage material from the moment I caught its scent – which was of clean floral hops, honey and freshly baked bread. In the mouth it was creamy and sweet, but with a chalky dryness to the water and a subdued bitter kick at the end. To be honest I’m not even sure what it was that made it so special, it was just so well-rounded and lovely. I could drink it forever and never get sick of it. And oh! – imagine it from a cask!

Naturally I discovered my love of Landlord just as the country’s supply ran out, and apparently it won’t be back until 2013. I’m now kicking myself for looking past it on the shelves at New World for so long, never realising that it was in fact the one. (Or at least one of the ones.)

A big thank you to Stephen who shared his last bottle of Landlord with me at Galbraith’s. You get full acknowledgement as the person who introduced us, and can certainly be the best man at the wedding.

* To clarify – a beer that qualifies as a ‘husband’ is one that is well-rounded, sessionable, charming and reliable. Preferably he will also be based in New Zealand, but I’m willing to go long-distance for this one. 
Published in: on May 30, 2012 at 10:01 am  Comments (5)  

#280 Belhaven – Scottish Stout

Belhaven StoutName: Scottish Stout
Brewery: Belhaven ( Dunbar, Scotland)
Style: Stout
ABV: 7%
Source: Waiheke Wines

Before I get on to talking about this beer, I just want to take a self-indulgent moment to say I can’t believe there are only 85 beers left until this thing is over! (And actually more like 80 because I’m still a bit behind on posts).

I know that sounds like heaps (what kind of a person utters the words “only 85 beers” anyway?) but it’s actually only 11 and a bit weeks – which incidentally is just one week longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage lasted.*

But it’s still really too soon to be thinking about the end (except for choosing a final beer), so I won’t launch into any reflective ramblings just yet. I just wanted to let you know that it’s coming, and if there are any beers that you think must be included in the final 80, please do feel free to suggest them.

Anyway, this stout! It was bloody delicious and it went exceptionally well with Mum’s slow-cooked beef stew.

It poured really dark brown and retained a thin but creamy tan head. It smelled of lightly toasted wood, brown sugar and chocolate, then the mouth it was sweet and milk-chocolatey before the hops kicked in for a dry and slightly bitter finish. It had a smooth mouthfeel with very little carbonation, and was still light enough to be refreshing. I loved it! I really did.

And speaking of stout, did you know Mariah Carey was once criticized for drinking Guinness while breastfeeding?**

*I thought my blog might see a last-minute surge in popularity if I started to include more pop trivia.
** See above .

Published in: on May 22, 2012 at 9:33 pm  Comments (15)  

#278 Brewdog – Royal Virility Performance

Brewdog Royal Virility PerformanceName: Royal Virility Performance
Brewery: Brewdog (Aberdeenshire, Scotland)
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 7.5%
Source: The Beer Store

I’ve tried beers with plenty of weird things in them over the course of this blog (raspberry jam, tea, and sarsaparilla just to name a few in the past week) but I think this one takes the cake.

Royal Virility Performance is the first beer in the world to be brewed with Viagra – approximately 1/3 of a pill per bottle. It also contains  some other supposed aphrodisiacs, such as chocolate and, don’t even ask me what this is: Horny Goat Weed. (Wouldn’t seeing those words together be enough to make you instantly flaccid?)

I didn’t know it had any of that stuff in it when I drank it. This was just a beer that my Dad sent me (awkward right? I guess he didn’t know either), to drink on the anniversary of Will & Kate’s Wedding. You see, this beer was brewed especially for the wedding and, as it turns out, specifically for prince William to drink on the wedding night. Brewdog you dirty old rascals!

Obviously I haven’t been paying close enough attention to the Women’s Day because  the anniversary passed me completely unnoticed, but I saw it in the cupboard last week and decided it was better late than never.

For a beer that  has novelty and smut coming out the wazoo, this was surprisingly gorgeous. From the moment I popped the cap this heady scent of fragrant woods, fresh herbs and citrus wafted out – reminding me of my favorite ever perfume, Comme Des Garcons No. 2. In the mouth it was full and malty without being too sweet, with the resiny herbaceous notes balancing things out. Often I don’t like IIPAs because they’re overly sweet and alcoholic, but this one had a depth of flavour that nicely padded it out.

And of course what you really want to know is: did the beer come with a happy ending? Sadly the answer is no, as viagra doesn’t have much effect on women. I did, on the other hand, have some weird dreams about goats…

Published in: on May 21, 2012 at 9:20 pm  Comments (3)  

#236 Durham – Temptation

Name: Temptation
Brewery: Durham (Durham, England)
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10%
Source: The Beer Store

I was going to do this really long delayed intro thing about people asking me what my favorite beer style is and me never being able to make up my mind but thinking deep down that it’s probably Imperial Stout, which would lead me to talking arout this beer, but instead I just want to say:

Daaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyymn! This beer is gangsta yo! You gotta go out and get yo’self some!

Of course, unlike this beer I’m extremely white and so will now revert to talking normally. This beer was really that good though. I want to say it was like liquid sex but that would gross my family out, so instead I’ll say it tasted just like Christmas.

It poured black and thick as night, with a head like espresso crema. It smelled of dark and delicious things – roasted coffee, spices, treacle, and bitter chocolate. In the mouth it was syrupy smooth, full-bodied and loaded with lasting flavours. It was dangerously drinkable for its 10% ABV, and while it was sweet, the roasty bitterness kept me coming back for more.

Which brings me back to the original point that I was going to make – I don’t think there’s any beer that gives me more pleasure than Imperial Stout (or porter). And to think I didn’t even know about them before starting this blog… Imagine how much worse my life could have been!

PS – Neat bottle too, huh? Reminds me of a secret society. The secret society of people who know about Imperial Stouts, perhaps.

Published in: on April 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm  Comments (3)  

#232 Theakston – Old Peculiar

Name: Old Peculiar
Brewery:  Theakston (Masham, England)
Style: Old Ale
ABV: 5.6%
Source:  New World

Oops! Somehow I completely forgot to blog about this beer, and am now having to magically manipulate time and slot this in between past posts. I’m hoping that means nobody will see it and I can get away with being very brief.

I bought this because I thought it might be like that Pink’s Peculiar that I wrote about yonks ago. That beer was b a t s h i t  c r a z y, and we all know batshit crazy beers make for the best posts.

However. This was disappointingly delicious and not that weird at all. It was dark and oaky, and tasted of prunes, figs, licorice, chocolate, molasses, and maybe something like wine or sherry. It was sweet but quite drying in the mouth at the same time, which made drinking the whole bottle an effortless feat.

Now that this missing post has been accounted for, forget you saw it. I was never here.

Published in: on April 1, 2012 at 1:58 pm  Leave a Comment