Tag Archives: dark ale

BeertripNZ: Days Three & Four

Day three was a big one that left me feeling a little tender, so I’ve put off writing until now so I can do it justice.

The day opened with a trip to Harrington’s Brewery. This was something I’d been looking forward to since I started planning my trip, partly because when I contacted Mark regarding a tour his reply was as positive and backed by enthusiasm as my email. This was my first thought when I met him at the brewery; Tully and I were ushered in, given a couple if beers to drink on the way, and given the most detailed tour from someone who was as excited to talk about it as I was to listen. It’s the passion I’ve found draws so many of the craft brew community together that I love, and while Harrington’s is quite a large scale operation, it was evident that it is being run by brewers that take a craft brew approach.

I have heard that Harrington’s once had a reputation for making a cheap, highly-alcoholic drunking lager that gave the brewery a bit of a bad name, but that they’ve been re-emerging as a quality craft brewer over the past little while. The beers I tasted were quite nice (I only had a few of their very large range), with their ESB being a standout. Mark was quick to load us up with a few bottles from the cellar to take with us and even a couple of their latest batch of Weiss which is still maturing.

The tour went for about 45 minutes and we went through every detail of the process to the point of sticking our heads in the tuns to get a good whiff. Mark told us they also do bottling for several local craft breweries that don’t have the facilities themselves (Three Boys Weiss was being bottled at the time) and they also will crush grain for homebrewers that swing by.

With bags full of beer we ventured out into the pouring rain bound for the highly-recommended Pomeroy’s. It is one of those great little pubs you get into a don’t ever want to leave, with amazing food (I had the Pomeroy’s Big Deluxe Burger and Tully had the Venison Hotpot, which were both staggeringly satisfying) and most importantly a selection of great beer. I had a Yeastie Boys Yakima Monster, a Tuatara Hefe and stout whose name I forget, all of which were really, really good. Ava, the bar manager, was up for a chat and she knew her stuff and was a good help identifying the quality locals. She even gave us a free bottle of the Yeastie Boys brew we hadn’t tried and kept us topped up with assorted samples. Pomeroy’s was hard to leave and I can see myself going back at least once before I fly home.

One the way home we stopped in to the Mac’s Brewpub to see what they had to offer. For the first time in months they asked for ID, which I found odd for two beardy Swedes turning up at 3 in the afternoon for a beer, at a pub that didn’t actually have any other customers inside apart from us. That said, they had all the Mac’s range on tap, including the Brewjolais seasonal I couldn’t resist trying. It was basically a maltier, more-balanced version of their Hoprocker ale. I like the Hoprocker and I’ve had it a fair few times but neither the Brewjolais nor the Hoprocker went down amazingly, both seeming a bit dull. Odd also because they were all on draught in their own pub. Oh well, I’ll still continue to drink Mac’s when I go home. They did manage to make me the best macchiato I think I’ve ever had, so props to them for that.

Our journey continued, stopping in at a local supermarket recommended as having a good craft beer range. I like with a good $120 worth. Hopefully they’ll last us a little while.

Once home we readied ourselves for a night out on the town, and started with Indian at The Two Fat Indians. Very good nosh, and passable beers, it was a very pleasant meal.

On we went to The Twisted Hop (again, I know, but they had plenty I was yet to try) to get our beer on. The standout was the Fullers Golden Pride, which was amazing. Very rich and full yet not too heavy, which might sound a bit contradictory, but it was a beer you’d sip on and not want to stop. I didn’t take a great amount of tasting notes for the Golden Pride, which was a mistake, but their website seems to sum it up pretty well.

We also picked up a bottle of Green Man Whisky Bock, on a challenge set by bar manager David. It was shit. I drank almost half a glass and moved on. (Tully finished his and the rest of mine… he claims he thought it was woeful)

On we moved to Sole Square, the hub of Chrustchurch nightlife. We went to Yellow Cross, a large bar with many taps of varying qualities of beer and very cool decor. There were even a couple of fermenters with some amazingly disturbing artwork painted onto them. Live music, good drinks, and Tully also scored a pair of Speight’s overalls.

Home. Spent most of the remaining night drinking water and headed to bed at 5. Was unreasonably hungover today.

We spent today cruising around the hills of Akaroa, a small French settlement which I confirmed did have the best fish and chips I can remember. Quality greasy food and lush sprawling scenery, I can’t think of a better hangover cure!

Having a great BeertripNZ thus far, can’t wait to see what Dunedin yields,
J 🙂

Click through to BeertripNZ: Dunedin

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BeerTripNZ: Day One

Though we really got into Christchurch last night, it was so late and the beer-drinking scenarios so few that today was officially my first day of #beertripNZ.

The plane trip wasn’t bad, and apparently a good 25 minutes shorter than normal, and they served complimentary cans of Speight’s Premium Ale. Coming from a country that serves ‘Premium’ Lager instead of beer, I found it quite refreshing to find that Speight’s offering was very drinkable. I may have to stop in at the Speight’s Alehouse while here.

The first half of the day today was spent roaming the streets of Christchurch trying to vend an XT Telecom store to set up our iPhones with data, only to be told that they had all closed down and moved to surrounding malls. Dick Smiths helped us out and we were on our way.

Falling down the hill

After lunch we went for a drive around the hills and went for a bit of a climb, to get our daily bit of exercise out of the way. I danced, and we found a folly to watch from.

After dinner it was time to head into the city for a well-earned touch of beer. Our host had a favourite Irish pub called The Bog which served the best Guinness he’d come across in Christchurch. Having always been a Guinness fan, and needing a good, dark, thick beer to overcome the cold, I Bogged in. The Guinness WAS good; probably the best I’ve had so far, though I can’t say I’ve ever managed to locate the real stuff. It was actually the first time I was able to drink the black stuff to actually appreciate it for the qualities of beer, and in comparison I’m mighty proud of my own Chocolate Stout.

Next I tried a Speights Old Dark Ale. Having found Speight’s Premium ale quite nice, I couldn’t resist trying their dark. While technically not bad, it wasn’t to my tastes, having little to no hops in the aroma or the flavour. Very malty with hints of fruit, it will appeal to some. While the hops’ absence wasn’t preferred, it was still a good drop.

Last I had a Mac’s Black Mac. While my mission this trip was to drink beers I’d not be able to get my hands on in Aus, this was the best option I could see behind the bar, and I hadn’t had the Black Mac in a while. I also feel a certain fondness for Mac’s after the Beer & Brewer expo, when their tent was one of only a couple giving out free samples and after a few even giving me a free Mac’s-branded messenger bag. Their Hoprocker and Sassy Red are awesome too. The Black Mac was hoppy on the nose and full of flavour with caramel, coffee and chocolate notes, with a lovely late bitterness. I found it very malty in a similar way to James Squire’s Malt Runner, but Mac’s have kept this beer very light in the mouth and very easy to drink. I found it strangely carbonated for a beer so dark, but it worked.

Tomorrow we’ll be heading to a couple of bottle shops to grab a selection of different things to taste, so I’ll keep you guys posted.

P.S. Promite is pretty awesome. Not as good as Vegemite, but still yum.

P.P.S. iPhone tethering is AWESOME!

Click through to BeerTripNZ: Day Two

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Unibroue Terrible, St Bernardus Abt 12, BrewDog Tokyo.

Having heard good things about this one, my friend Tully and I decided to invest in a AU$35 bottle of ‘Terrible’, a Canadian uber-dark ale. (I have found it for ~$22, but as we were at a bar at the time, we suffered the markup.)

Pouring devilishly thick and dark, it was looking good from the beginning. Despite a fruity nose (fruity beer has thus-far led me to be very cautious), Terrible brings a vast array of flavours to the palette: primary fruity and sour, but also full, with caramel, chocolate, molasses and well-roasted malt. Not the hoppiest beer you’ll find but this is no issue. While I don’t want to rule fruity beers out, I have to admit I’ve not been a fan. This does fruity perfectly in my mind, matching the tartness with exactly the right amount of malt.

Om nom nom.

Clocking in at 10.5%abv, it packs an obvious punch, but not overpoweringly so. I’m glad I shared the bottle, as consuming the full 750mL of this beauty would not have been the best idea. It has a quality which I adore in dark ales, which is the ability to bring serious potency while maintaining refreshingly light mouthfeel. I have heard others disapprovingly mark this as being ‘watery’ but I wholeheartedly disagree. Easy-drinking but strong.

St Bernardus let me down with this one.

Comparatively, I was also recommended the St Bernardus Abt 12. I picked it up for $19 and was told it rivalled the Terrible. With that in mind, I was left disappointed. Too tart, not in the least bit hearty nor spicy, and felt like a far more generic dark ale. Pegged by St Bernardus’ website as “The absolute top quality in the hierarchy of the St. Bernardus beers” and “The show piece of the brewery”, I’m hoping that my bottle was just a little old.

Indulgence.

While I’m on the topic of strong, dark beers I have to quickly mention BrewDog’s Tokyo. This beer comes from the brewery that holds that title of Worlds Most Alcoholic Beer (the Tactical Nuclear Penguin, at 42%abv). There is a fair bit of hype about the affair, and as soon as I saw the unmistakable font of their logo designs, I knew I had to try this. (Not the TNP, as it sells for $150 a bottle. Yes, you read correctly.)

The Tokyo is simply sensational. You have to try it. It manages to fit an 18%abv content into a dark ale, and it doesn’t actually taste that alcoholic. It does taste incredibly rich, guiltily indulgent, and perfectly balanced, but the main achievement is that you cannot pick the super-high alcohol content.

I’ve had it twice now, the first involving my consumption being applauded by the bar-staff, and the second being a more private indulgence tucked away in the country with hearty food and family. This is something you want to share. One very small glass lasts half an hour, and you feel so, so satisfied with just that. I’d ordered the Tokyo and been delivered a 330mL bottle, and by the end of it was wishing it had been half that. The Terrible however, allows you to taste the alcohol (you definitely know it’s there), but the malts, flavours, and (briefly) hops are so well-balanced that you could fool yourself into drinking it all night. One day I might.

Terrible: yes. St Bernardus: no. BrewDog Tokyo: hell yes.

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