#329 Tuatara – Conehead

Tuatara ConeheadName: Conehead
Brewery: Tuatara (Waikanae, NZ)
Style: Wet-hopped Pale Ale
ABV: 5.5%
Source: Thorndon New World

You probably think I’m getting quite bored of beer – drinking and writing about it every day – right? You might suspect I’m like Ryan Seacrest hosting his 11th season of American Idol… All teeth and thumbs up on the outside but getting closer to a psychotic episode with every Stevie Wonder rendition he hears. (That’s how I see him anyway, I think the cracks are really starting to show).

I’m getting off on a bit of a tangent, but what I meant to say is that I’m not bored of beer yet (not most of the time anyway), because I’m still discovering new things to get enthused about. Wet-hopped beers for example! Two months ago I didn’t know what they were, yet this is the third one to appear on the blog since then. And isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she wonderful?

The Tuatara Conehead reminded me of the wet-hopped beer I had from Garage Project, Oldham’s Farm. They were quite different beers, but they both had this distinct, delicious, hard to pin down flavour which I’m guessing is a little “wet-hop magic”.

Obviously I’ve never come in contact with marijuana before, but if I had put my nose in a bag of sticky, fresh buds, I might tell you that this beer reminded me of it. I also smelled citrus and passionfruit, plus something kind of toasty or baked, like treacle tart or an anzac biscuit.

In the mouth it was zingy and fresh, with fruity and herbaceous hop flavours balanced perfectly with caramel malt. What was so impressive about it was how stunningly bright, clean and crisp it was – as if this beer would actually cure a hangover rather than give me one.

Way to go Tuatara, you did a really great job! *she said with a thumbs up and a maniacal grin.* 

Published in: on July 17, 2012 at 8:38 pm  Comments (1)  

#274 Tuatara – Double Trouble

Name: Double Trouble
Brewery:  Tuatara (Waikanae, NZ)
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 5.5%
Source: GABS

If I were any kind of self-respecting beer blogger I would have been posting live from the Great Australian Beer Spectapular: juggling laptop and tasting paddles, giving commentary on beer festival fashion and conducting video interviews with brewers…

But I’m Beer for a Year! So instead here’s a quick run down about a week too late.

GABS was gabsmackingly good. In my mind this is largely thanks to the stunning venue – the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens – which made the whole beer-drinking business feel incredibly grand and important. Phil Cook has some nice photos which you can peruse over here. 

 I had tickets to two sessions – Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and planned to spread the beers over the two days so that I could get through all of them. Best laid plans and all that – I actually ended up getting quite over-excited on the Saturday and trying 40 beers (in many cases just half a tiny cup), and only making it through about 15 the next day.

This post corresponds to the Saturday session, during which I tried all of the NZ beers plus a bunch of Australian ones. Some favorites were Garage Project’s Double Day of the Dead (a chilli chocolate lager), Mike’s Rose IPA, Rennaisance Stonecutter Oak, and 2 Brothers/Diamond Knott Bloody Oak. At least those are a handful that I can remember, but there were so many good ones and I had such tiny amounts that it’s hard to say.

After making my way through several tasting paddles, I thought I should have at least one full glass of beer for my ‘beer of the day’. I would have liked to write about the Double Day of the Dead, but at 8% it seemed a dangerous choice, so I chose this because I hadnt tried it yet and it was only 5.5% according to the booklet.

But was it really? Double IPAs are usually up around the 10% mark, and this certainly tasted like it was too. It was massively hoppy  (citrus and pine) and equally sweet, with a suspiciously full mouthfeel for a regular ABV beer. Also, I felt really drunk after I’d finished it. Was it just the forty-odd beers I’d tried before-hand? Maybe. Maybe not.

I tried two beers that day that I liked better than all the rest. One was the Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta (which won People’s Choice Best Beer!!), and the second was a beer that  sounded absolutely horrific, but was in fact gorgeous. So gorgeous that it will be the star of my next post.


Published in: on May 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm  Comments (6)  

#117 Tuatara – Hefe

Name: Hefe
Brewery: Tuatara (Waikanae, New Zealand)
Style: Wheat Beer
ABV:  5%
Source: The Burgundy Room (Wellington)

Of all 117 beers that I’ve had on Beer For a Year so far, I can honestly say this is the first that I didn’t actually want to drink.

Even at 11pm, I was still feeling like  microwaved death as a result of the night before’s bar-crawl. I was at The Burgundy Room watching the wonderful Bannerman, and the only beer they had (apart from Speight’s) that I hadn’t already blogged about was this one.

I probably should have just got the Speight’s. It’s not the Hefe’s fault – it’s probably a fine example of a wheat beer, I just don’t like wheat beer and I wasn’t even in the mood to like anything. (I also don’t like beers that come in those handled glasses. I have weak little chicken arms and they’re too heavy!)

What can I say?  I only had three sips before I gave it away, and I was watching the band so didn’t make any notes. I remember it had the usual charactaristics of wheat beer – banana, bubblegum, lemon, wheat, and had a nice mouthfeel – fullish but still crisp.

I don’t know. If you like wheat beer then this is probably a great New Zealand example of the style – certainly my friends at the bar were enjoying it – but something about it really turns me off. It might be psychological so I’ll try to get past it, and I’ll be sure to have my next one when I’m feeling a little more… receptive. 

In the mean time – sorry Hefe. It’s not you, it’s me.

Published in: on December 4, 2011 at 6:35 pm  Comments (6)  

#104 Tuatara – Pilsner

Tuatara Pilsner Name: Pilsner
Brewery: Tuatara (Waikanae, New Zealand)
Style: Bohemian Pilsner
ABV: 5%
Source: Grandma & Grandad’s

Just because you’re 80-something and you get around in Kumpfs and talk to the cat a lot, doesn’t mean you can’t be discerning about the beer you drink.

At least, not according to my grandparents, who pulled out a mix-pack of Tuatara beers from the fridge when I visited them for lunch on Sunday.

They live in Paraparaumu  which is just down the road from the Tuatara Brewery, so not only are they buying craft, they’re buying local as well. My grandparents are some hip cats, I tell you.

I chose the Pilsner, which I’ve had a few times recently and enjoyed, and I made Granddad get this crystal glass out of the cupboard for me to drink it from.

It’s a funny thing. The last two times I had this I thought I liked it, but this time I wasn’t so sure. It smelled pretty hoppy – spicy and grassy – but not as citrusy as I’d remembered and a bit one-dimensional. In the mouth it was there was a dominant grainy flavour that I wasn’t mad on either.

I don’t know. It was refreshing and all, just a little… boring perhaps? It’s strange how I can like a beer one day and be less fussed the next, but it happens surprisingly often. Maybe it was the crystal glass. Maybe it had me expecting too much.

Despite this experience being a bit underwhelming, I do generally enjoy Tuatara beers and I love the fact that they sell a mix-packs. In my opinion it’s much more fun to drink six different beers than six of the same*, and I wish every craft brewery would follow suit.

*Unless of course it’s the Tuatara APA (either version), which I’ll happily drink until I fall off my bar stool.

Published in: on November 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

#74 Tuatara – Aotearoa Pale Ale

More evidence that I need to buy a camera

Name: Aotearoa Pale Ale (APA)
Brewery: Tuatara (Waikanae, New Zealand)
Style: New Zealand Pale Ale
ABV: 5.6%
Source: Fork & Brewer

So it happened. I finally met “the new guy”.

And it went well – very well in fact – but it wasn’t what I was expecting at all…

First I should go back a bit and explain. The A(otearoa)PA is Tuatara’s solution to The Great American Hop Shortage of 2011 – which means that lots of beers which use American hops will be off the shelves for at least a year. It’s sad, obviously, but as Tuatara have proven, it’s not the end of the world.

Tuatara’s response to TGAHS (I get a feeling that wont catch on) has been admirable, I reckon. One minute they’re telling us there won’t be any more APA for a year. They mourn for a few days, and then literally nek minute there’s a new version available – still an APA, but an Aotearoa Pale Ale which uses New Zealand hops instead. Seamless!

As you might recall from my love letter, I was a bit heartbroken that the old APA was leaving but looking forward to checking out his replacement. And on Friday night at the new Fork and Brewer bar in Wellington, I finally did.

It came from this tap (note the fetching new purple and orange colour scheme):

Fork & Brewer taps

The taps at Fork and Brewer are very cool, and there’s about a million of them!

Fork & Brewer taps

As soon as I smelled “the new guy” I realised that “he” wasn’t even a he at all – she was an exotic babe from the tropics, smelling of fresh fruit salad (passionfruit especially) and flowers.

It was luscious on the palate – with those fruity, floral hop notes delivered alongside mouth-filling chewy caramel malt. The bitterness came in, fashionably late, punching out the final notes of what a proper beer writer might call a symphony.

Bravo Tuatara, this is a damn fine beer and good proof that our Kiwi hops can hold their own. And just quietly (don’t tell the other one), I think I like this APA the best!

Published in: on October 23, 2011 at 11:37 am  Comments (2)  

#73 – Tuatara IPA

Tuatara IPAName: Indian Pale Ale
Brewery: Tuatara (Waikanae, New Zealand)
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 5%
Source: Taste of NZ Festival (Auckland)

When my picture shows beer in a plastic cup, you can safely assume that I was having too good-a-time to properly make any notes and that the post that follows will be vague and packed with ‘filler’. For example:

Last night I went to Taste of NZ, which is a big foodie festival that’s on at Auckland’s Victoria Park at the moment. I had been fasting all day (that’s a lie, I had been eating lightly all day) so that I could stuff myself silly at it, so I nearly went mental with excitement when I got in the gates. There was food – good food – everywhere, and some of it was even free!

First things first – I needed a beer, so I made a beeline for the Tuatara stand:

Tuatara stand at Taste of NZ

I was really hoping they might have some of the new APA I’ve been so desperate to meet, but alas he hasn’t arrived in Auckland yet. I did pester the guy who served me about it, and he seemed to think a sneaky keg might make it’s way up to Galbraiths soon. Fingers crossed!

Since there was no APA, I went for the IPA instead. It was hoppy, bitter and quite citrusy, and a great first choice for the evening. That’s it though – that’s all I can say about the beer – because I was getting distracted by the wafting aromas of cooking meat and completely forgot to make any notes.

So to fill out this entry, I’ll just post pictures of some of the food I ate instead.

Slow roasted lamb shoulder with cauliflower puree - District Dining

Black vinegar glazed pork belly with bbq prawn

Black vinegar glazed pork belly with bbq prawn - District Dining

Venison steak hache slider, red onion & beetroot marmalade

Venison steak hache slider, red onion & beetroot marmalade - The Grove

Malaysian sago pudding with coconut cream and palm sugar - Monsoon Poon

Malaysian sago pudding with coconut cream and palm sugar - Monsoon Poon

Everything was SO YUM! I also had lots of little samples – some cheeses from Kapiti and Puhoi, salted caramel cupcakes from Petal, and more beer – the best being Moa’s Imperial Stout, which I’ll have to have a full bottle of when it’s not a school night.

I imagine my next posts will be just as vague and full of pictures as this one, because I’m going to be in beer heaven (Wellington) for the next three days. Tonight it’s the Malthouse (come and have a pint with me if you’re around), tomorrow the Pacific Beer Expo, and on Sunday my first attempt at homebrewing. Stay tuned!

Published in: on October 21, 2011 at 11:18 am  Leave a Comment  

#59 Tuatara – APA

Tuatara APA

Name: APA
Brewery: Tuatara (Waikanae, New Zealand)
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5.7%
Source: Brew on Quay

(Because writing the same way every day gets boring.)

Dearest APA,

Do you remember the first night we met? I do.

To be fair, it was only a few weeks ago – the night of the RWC opening as I recall. We were jammed in with the crowds at AndrewAndrew, catching the last rays of sunshine on the last patch of AstroTurf. Some might call it Rugby Mania, but I like to think there was a certain… electricity in the air.

I know it sounds shallow, but it was your clothes that got my attention first. That orange and blue label looked so cool on you. So retro. So American. Of course you looked even better without your clothes… Your body had a healthy, hazy golden glow, your head was strong and creamy.

I wanted to taste you.

But first there was your scent – again, so American. There was grapefruit, sure (but then I say that to all the beers), and a rich, malty body. There was a certain… je ne sais quoi  as well… a hint of grass, perhaps?

When my lips touched yours I knew at once what kind of beer you were. Assertive, with a zest for life, but with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Your citrus side was charming, exciting, but the malt gave you depth and made me feel safe.  You felt smooth and full in my mouth, and I wanted you all at once.

It was only a week or two later that I started hearing the rumours about you. I heard you were skipping town for a year (some say, with Hop Zombie), and that they’ve already bought a new guy in to replace you. “Aotearoa Pale Ale” he’s called – apparently a bit of a hotshot.

You can understand my distress, and that ‘s why I had to have you again last night – to taste you one final time before you left. You didn’t disappoint, but oh it was bittersweet.

I’m writing now to tell you that I’ve decided to move on – maybe check out this new guy and see what all the fuss is about. I hope you’re not hurt, it’s just that a year is a long time to wait. And besides – God knows what you’ll get up to when you’re off with Hop Zombie.

Until next year, farewell my love.

A x

Published in: on October 7, 2011 at 11:59 am  Comments (8)  

#48 Tuatara – XI

Tuatara XIName: XI
Brewery: Tuatara
Style: Black Barley Wine
ABV: 10.5%
Source: Regional Wines

Oh dear! I just got some sad pet-related news from my mum so I don’t much feel like writing a post, but I do feel like drinking a large strong beer. That’s why I have this bottle of… *squints to read label*… Tuatara XI in front of me.

According to the label this is “technically a licorice black barley wine”, which must mean it’s brewed with licorice. It’s probably on the label, but have you ever tried to read black on black text? Kinda makes me feel ill. As for the barley wine bit – I was initially put off that style because I thought it sounded like a weird hippie drink, but it turns out it just means it’s really strong.

I’ve just poured it, and it’s ominously thick and dark, with a foamy tan head.

It smells – God, my nose is really blocked so it’s hard to tell – dark, chocolatey, sweet and rich. Like licorice, I think, and roasty malt.

I’ve just had about half of it and damn, it’s good. It tastes the same as it smells – like a wicked licoricey dessert, and the big whack of booze has left me feeling warm and slightly dazed. The mouthfeel is velvety smooth and full, with enough carbonation to stop it from being too syrupy. All in all – it’s exactly what I needed.

Once again, this is a limited release beer so there won’t be too much around. If you see one on the shelves, I say buy it! Especially if you need a bit of cheering up.

Published in: on September 25, 2011 at 11:30 pm  Comments (1)  

#37 Tuatara & Galbraith’s – Vasta’s Velvet

Vasta's Velvet Name: Vasta’s Velvet
Brewery: Galbraith Brewing Co. & Carl Vasta (head brewer at Tuatara)
Style: Cask Conditioned Stout
ABV: 6%
Source: Galbraith’s Alehouse

I feel like I’m a bit late posting this because this beer was released a whole week and a half ago, which sounds ridiculous except that it’s probably only going to be around for another week – less if I go back to Galbraith’s in the weekend and drink it all.

This was actually one of three collaboration beers that I tried last night – along with Mike’s/Liberty Brewing’s Taranaki Pale Ale, and the Yeastie Boys/Malthouse Lady Marmalade. They were all worth writing about, but I went to Galbraith’s specifically for the Vasta’s Velvet so I’m picking that one for my post.

And guess what? It was bloody lovely! It smelled like Christmas at Grandma Jane’s house – sweet sherry, dried fruit and chocolate, with more savoury flavours coming through on the tongue. There was marmite, malt, lightly toasted wood and a spicy dry bitterness to finish. It was smooth as butter and had a full mouthfeel without being thick or sticky. I’d say it’s the perfect beer for a rainy evening (and lord knows we’re not short of those) at a cosy pub like Galbraiths.

I’m worried I won’t get to write posts on Lady M or the Taranaki Pale Ale  because they’ll probably be gone when I next go back to Galbraith’s (why can’t I write posts from my tastings last night? Because my complicated blog rules forbid it, that’s why), so I’d like to Big Up them both now. The Mike’s/Liberty IPA was a crisp and joyous explosion of fruity/bitter hops, and the Yeastie Boys Lady M was a tasty, well-balanced and highly sessionable English Ale.

Claps all round!

Published in: on September 15, 2011 at 3:25 pm  Comments (6)  
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