#361 Hallertau – Porter Noir

Hallertau Porter Noir Name: Porter Noir
Brewery: Hallertau (Kumeu, NZ)
Style: Porter
ABV: 6.6%
Source: New World Vic Park

The beer community, like any other, loves a good scandal. The best ones can make heroes of craft brewers, get beer into mainstream headlines – even cause boycotts of certain brands if someone’s really been naughty.

This particular beer is at the centre of the latest saga. To quickly summarise –  DB has named a new Monteith’s beer “Porter Noir” – the same name Hallertau coined and gave to this pinot noir barrel-aged porter.

I can see a non-beer geek reading this and going “Whoop-de-fuck, why do we care?”, and fair enough – the thing is Porter Noir is not a style, it’s a name like Hop Zombie or Rex Attitude or Santa’s Butt Porter (real). What’s more, it’s a bit arrogant for DB to be stealing names from craft breweries after the ‘Radler Fiasco’, in which they pissed everyone off royally by trademarking a name that actually was a style.

Anyway – that’s all fairly old news now and I didn’t drink this so that I could talk politics (although if that’s your bag go read Phil’s excellent post on the matter), I drank this because the whole thing reminded me that I’d never actually tried this beer! (Another upshot of beer scandals – they can be great for business.)

I’d heard Porter Noir was good, but when I sniffed it got the best surprise a gal could ask for – brettanomyces! I did not know Brett was going to be at this party, and I had the silly thought for a moment that he’d come uninvited, possibly on the coat tails of Funkonnay. I did quick Google and found that no, the pinot noir barrels this is aged in are (deliberately) infected with brett, which contributed to this wonderful complex aroma of musty oak, sherbert, berries, and definite pinot noir.

In the mouth it was dry, light and slightly sour,  with red wine-like tannins, chocolate , and funky fruit from the brett. I really liked it, and only wish it came in smaller (cheaper) bottles so that I could drink it a bit more regularly.

Today’s thank you goes to someone I’ve never actually met – regular reader Matthew Searle. Matt’s a Kiwi beer lover living in Canada, and has spurred me on from afar by leaving loads of enthusiastic and encouraging comments over the year. He also sent some awesome beers back from Canada with his parents to try, and has promised to join our celebrations on Tuesday night by drinking a bottle of Big Smoke at the time the party starts (thankfully 11pm in Canada, so not too ungodly). Go Matt!

PS – I think the outcome of the “Porter Noir Saga” was that Monteith’s agreed to change the name once the first batch runs out, and Hallertau are now trademarking all their names quick sharp. And that reminds me – I better make an application for “Old Cock Ale” before Monteith’s try to swipe that.

Published in: on August 5, 2012 at 9:13 am  Comments (2)  
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#348 Hallertau – Barrique Fermented Saison

Hallertau Saison Name: Barrique-Fermented Saison
Brewery: Hallertau (Auckland, New Zealand)
Style: Saison
ABV: 5.3%
Source: the Golden Dawn (Ponsonby, Akl)

I had to stare at this photo for a full five minutes (and then eventually put it into Photoshop and lighten it up), in order to figure out what  it was. Eventually I recognized the blue picnic table and remembered that oh yes – this was that cracking little Saison I drank at Golden Dawn on Saturday.*

It was a little hard to taste the beer because it was so dark (sounds weird but it’s true), and because a girl sitting near me was blowing smoke in my direction, but I tried not to act like a grumpy old man about it and enjoyed the beer as best I could.

It was pretty classically saisony, with aromas of lemon, bread, bubblegum and gentle spices, but also a little oak from those barrels. In the mouth it was fresh and creamy, lightly sour and very refreshing. There were actually quite a few similarities between this and the Funkonnay, which could never be a bad thing.

Though I do actually like Golden Dawn a lot, it wasn’t quite the right setting for a delicate saison. Still – I’m yet to find a flowery meadow or sunny barnyard with beer on tap, so for now it will just have to do.

*Again, sorry for posting out of order and for being so hopeless with remembering what I drank. I’m hoping this is coming across as a charming Zooey Deschanel-type kookiness rather than signs of a mental deficiency. 

Published in: on July 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#347 Hallertau – Funkonnay

Alice Galletly

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

Name: Funkonnay
Brewery:
Hallertau (Auckland, NZ)
Style:
Sour Ale
ABV:
6.5%
Source:
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)  
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#237 Hallertau – Schwarzbier

Hallertau DeceptionName: Schwarzbier
Brewery: Hallertau (Auckland, New Zealand)
Style: Shwarzbier
ABV: 5.1%
Source: New World

I like to think of myself as a dark beer kinda gal (see last post for proof), but I’m thinking that Shwarzbier might not be my jam.

True, I’ve only ever had two – this and Monteith’s Black which might not even count – but I’ve found both to be a little on the watery side.  I like my dark beers to be hearty and fat, and this was just a bit too austere.

This had some nice aromas – chocolate, roasty coffee, nuts, vanilla – but  I didn’t feel like they translated that well on the palate. I wanted full-bodied malt and sweetness to back them up, but instead it was dry and bitter – almost harsh.

I guess this is probably true to style, in which case the style is not for me. And actually it’s probably a good thing if it turns out I don’t like shwarzbeir shwarzbier schwarzbier, seeing as I’m not quite sure how to say it or spell it.

Published in: on April 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#210 Galbraith’s/Hallertau – Beastwars

Name: Beastwars (Brewers Reserve)
Brewery: Galbraith’s & Hallertau (Auckland)
Style: IPA
ABV: 6.7%
Source: Galbraith’s Alehouse

Urrrrrgggghhhhhhhhh….

That strange, guttural noise is by no means a reflection of (or in any way related to) the beer I am about to talk about. It’s just the cry of a writer in distress – specifically one with Blogger’s Block and a stack of overdue posts piling up…

But enough white whining. On I go.

I went to the launch of the latest Cask Ale Series thingee at Galbraith’s on Monday night (you know the drill – Galbraith’s teams up with an NZ brewer to make a cask ale beer), and drank a couple of pints of the new Beastwars.

Side note: On reflection, the fact that I got quite drunk on Monday night probably explains the fact that I’ve been on the back foot all week. Must remember to hold out until Tuesday in future.

As always it was fun/slightly intimidating to have so many beer geeks in one room together – including Joseph Wood of Liberty who was there brewing for the next Cask Ale Series. (In truth I didn’t meet him because he was hiding in the brewery all evening, but I’m sure his presence added something. A hoppy smell and more sideburns, perhaps.)

The beer itself was like a softened, creamier version of the original Beastwars. I really liked the texture and the fruity flavour, but found this, like the original, to be leaning a little too far toward the hopside for me. It gave me that dry, tannin-like feeling in the mouth afterwards and I think I would have enjoyed it more with a little more malt. That’s just a matter of personal preference though, and the general consensus on the night was that it was great.

Blogger’s Block preventing me from coming up with snappy one-liner to close. Insert your own here!

Published in: on March 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm  Comments (2)  
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#136 Hallertau – Beastwars IPA

Name: Beastwars
Brewery: Hallertau (Auckland, New Zealand)
Style: IPA
ABV: 6%
Source: Victoria Park New World

Apologies to anyone who’s gagging for an in-depth review of Beastwars IPA today. I’m on Waiheke Island, squinting at my laptop in the sun and trying to get this over with as soon as possible so that I can go eat ham and drink beer and sing Christmas carols with the whanau. (Just kidding, we don’t sing. Much).

Beastwars is a limited release IPA from Hallertau, inspired by the music of the Wellington metal band named, naturally Beastwars.

The label is a-ma-zing:

See how there’s a lion fighting a alligator? (could be an crocodile, I have no idea what the difference is) – that’s two beasts having a war. Beast – wars, geddit?

I think for the beer to ever properly live up to that label it would have to taste horrible. Like a mixture of lemon juice, tobasco sauce, bourbon, LSD, and fire.

In actuality it’s rather delightful.

The aroma for me is the high point – A bit like a riper version of an American Pale Ale – loads of sharp citrus, but also sweet pinnapple, passionfruit & stonefruit.  In the mouth I also got plenty of caramel malt, and a sharp piney dry bitterness at the finish which for me lingered a little too long (probably because I’m just not hardcore enough.)

OK! I can hear my family singing Frosty The Snowman opening beers so I’m out. Rock on!!

Published in: on December 24, 2011 at 3:20 pm  Comments (1)  
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#82 Hallertau – Minimus

Hallertau MinimusName: Minimus
Brewery: Hallertau
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 3.8%
Source: Hallertau Brewbar & Restaurant (Riverhead, Auckland)

I’m starting to feel as if my weekends are not complete unless they involve at least one trip to a brewery, a tasting platter of five or more beers, and some salt ‘n’ pepper squid on the side.

Thankfully I live in Auckland (the brewpub capital of New Zealand, didn’t you know? ;)) so this is easily attained.

On Saturday I made my first visit (yes, I know I’m behind the times, I never said I was hip), to Hallertau in Riverhead. On the trip I made two important discoveries:

1) Riverhead is not a mysterious place in a land far, far away, probably inhabited by unicorns – in fact it’s only 20 minutes from my house along the motorway.
2) Beer can be really hoppy and low in alcohol at the same time.  

The second discovery was made when I tasted the Hallertau Minimus. It came as part of a tasting platter along with the 1,2,3 and 4 beers – but this one was easily my favourite.

It had that same gorgeous American hop aroma of it’s bolshier brother Max – and for some reason that took me by surprise. The only low alcohol beers I’d had before were of the English Bitter variety – like my beloved Bookbinder – and so that’s what I’d come to expect. But there you are – if there’s one thing this blog has taught me so far is that whatever I think I know about beer is bound to be wrong.

Even though it smelled beautifully promising, I suspected it was punching above it’s own weight and that the taste was going to let me down. Wrong again. It somehow retained all that lovely hoppy flavour but with only a little bitter bite – a nibble if you will, at the finish. It wasn’t thin or watery either, it was just soft and tasty and incredibly moreish.

If my 16-year-old Kentucky Gold swilling self could see this sentence she probably would have called me “totally lame” but: I love finding beers that I can drink lots and lots of without without getting drunk. That makes this one, along with Bookie and Townshend’s Bandsman, a real gem.

PS: The salt ‘n’ pepper squid at Hallertau is AWESOME.

Hallertau squid

Published in: on October 31, 2011 at 10:36 am  Comments (1)  
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#23 Hallertau Maximus Humulus Lupulus

Hallertau Maximus Humulus LupusName: Maximus Humulus Lupulus
Brewery: Hallertau (Auckland, New Zealand)
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.8%
Source: Victoria Park New World

I’d been feeling quite weary all of yesterday after Tuesday’s late-night imperial stout, and all I’d been craving was a comfort beer. Preferably a Bookbinder – to be drunk while lying in bed watching 30 Rock.

But no no no, that’s not how this works!

I decided to go for something else I knew I liked – a Hallertau Maximus Humulus Lupulus. Quite a mouthful isn’t it? I remember I first tried this at the Malthouse two, maybe even three years ago (I used to work right opposite it, those were the days!). It was one of the first ‘big hop’ beers I’d tried, around the same time as the Epic Armaggedon I recall. I remember it being great then and it was great again last night.

Doesn’t the colour look gorgeous in that picture? That’s partly my fantastic iPhotography skills, partly the lovely hazy golden hue of MHL.

“Humulus Lupulus” is the fancy name for hops, and naturally that’s what this beer tastes like. Lots and lots of lovely, floral, fruity hops. I tasted citrus fruits, berries, passionfruit maybe (?) and a touch of honey, which I suppose is really malt…

I really like this one because while the hops give off massive amounts of flavour, it doesn’t get too angry if you know what I mean. The bitterness is restrained to a nice kick at the end, making it dry and moreish and easier-than-you-would-think to drink that entire 750ml bottle. (I kid, I shared it, honest!)

While we’re on the subject of Hallertau, who wants to be a sober driver and take me out to the brewery for lunch? Nobody, apparently, which is why I haven’t been yet. Thankfully my boyfriend just got back from a 7 week tour and I think he owes me, so this Sunday could be the day…

Published in: on September 1, 2011 at 10:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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#12 Hallertau Statesman

Hallertau StatesmanName: Statesman
Brewer: Hallertau
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.3%
Source: Glengarry Ponsonby

Today’s beer (OK, yesterday’s beer actually, I had a few too many to file a post before bed) is not only delicious, but one of the best-dressed kids in town in my opinion. I mean look at that label. How effortlessly cool is it? How industrial-chic? And have you seen 1,2,3, and 4 together? If I was a beer on the shelf next to them I’d want to rush home and change…

So this one is actually called the Hallertau Statesman, but is better known by it’s original name, number 2, hence the giant number 2 on the label. Can you see it?

The Statesman pours a slightly hazy golden colour with an off-white head. I feel  a bit like a broken record when I say I tasted primarily zesty, grapefruity hops, and also a little note of honey. Hopefully by the end of this 365 day journey to beer enlightenment I’ll be able to name at least 6 other charactaristics, but I’m nowhere near there yet. I thought the sweet/bitter balance was just right, which, along with the tasty flavours, made it dangerously quaffable.

An aside – Can any Aucklanders recommend liquor outlets or bars up here that might sell beers that I couldn’t find at Victoria Park New World? They have the biggest range that I’ve seen but I wondered if there might be some more unusual beers anywhere else.

Published in: on August 21, 2011 at 4:03 am  Comments (7)  
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