Seeedneeee

That bridge you can go up

Accent stereotypes aside, I can confirm I do actually have Aussie friends, and they all talk exactly like that. Says he with the most bastardized twang of Scottish, Aussie, Kiwi and Canadian.

Anyhow, enough jibber jabber, and on with a much delayed post that I was promising to write months ago. A small foray into some beers and bites over a short weekend trip to Sydney back in May.

I can remember some moons ago, 2008 potentially, 2009 possibly…I was piping at an excellent event in Adelaide, and ventured down O’Connell street of an eve in search of some refreshment, and enjoying very much a Little Creatures Pale Ale on tap. Where? No idea. But to this day the beer holds a special place as I always remember that moment I tried it for the first time. Out with mates at decent pub early in my Craft Beer adventure and just loving it. Biscuity, full bodied and just damn tasty!

It was a total contrast to the standard Aussie fare that I was used too, Tooheys New, Carlton Draught or VB. Vast quantities of said flavourless fizzy stuff was certainly washed down the gullet during my year in Sydney in 2006. Minimal amounts since. And dare I say it, minimal amounts of Little Creatures sadly. Now owned by Lion of course since 2012. My preference is always to support, as best I can, independent breweries.

Fast Forward to Sydney, May 2019 – I was excited. I had some spare time on the day of my arrival to head downtown for a bit. Was there a Craft Scene here? I was certainly impressed by Melbourne from a few years prior and was eager to see if the fast paced Auckland-esque city would rival its laid back, boutique Wellington-esque counterpart.

Now, a bit of a disclaimer:

1. I had a plan all set in my mind of seeing the Opera House, the Bridge and my old busking spot on Circular Quay for sheer nostalgia as it had been about 10 years since my last visit. 2. I had been up since 4 am and didnt really fancy straying too far off the beaten track, and 3. I had to be in some sort of form later on. So I entrusted Google, took this list as gospel, and homed in on what looked to be a decent spot downtown to aim for after my blatant touristing. This being the Redoak Boutique Bar and Brewery on Clarence Street.

The blurb was promising, many styles, family owned, supports the small craft brewers etc….but, I left pretty disappointed. Everything just felt underdone. The lunch special was a burger and a beer (a piddly Aussie sized ‘half’) for twenty something buck I think….and I went for the classic Aussie Burger. The menu was hardly inspiring but the deal seemed good on paper, but for what you got it was a touch over priced. It was just a burger, perfectly ok, but in no way was I dancing on the rooftops about how juicy the patty was or how delectably moreish the caremelised onions were. It was just a burger ‘n fries.

Along with it I had the “Mother Brucker” Pale Ale, an ale promising fruity, spicy and floral characteristics, and was brewed using Hersbrucker hops. One that was certainly new to me. Of the 5 I sampled it was certainly the stand out, light and refreshing and hop was certainly distinctive. Quite dank I thought.

I tried four more on a tasting flight; the Stouty McStoutface, The Trap Belgian Blonde, A West Coast Pale Ale and the Organic Pale Ale. All were, again, ok. Just needed a bit of an increase in volume. The West Coast Ale had a decent hop finish but everything else was slightly timid. It must be tough I would imagine – expensive real estate downtown, and I would assume a more stiff business clientele who might not be keen on a mad Double IPA with their lunch. Pity. Those board meetings would be way more productive.

Perhaps the most deflating aspect though was the atmosphere and service. It felt like any other standard downtown bar. I have always loved the willingness and enthusiasm of staff in a Crafty place, open to discuss their beers or just have a sociable chat. Nothing of that nature here unfortunately.

Would I go back?? Arrrrggh, I dunno. Maybe after a decent kip and a fresh mind I would think a bit differently. So perhaps I’m being overly harsh here..

If / when I go back to Sydney I think this list shall see some exploration. It looks genuinely exciting but requires a bit of decent Ubering and Metro’ing. And I see that Marrickville, near the Airport is housing many a good stop. Two of these were given a good nudge on my second night, being Batch Brewing and Grifter Brewing.

Much much much much much better! Actual atmosphere, flavoursome beers, and very importantly Proper NZ chips at Grifter. Sorry crisps! Seriously the Onion and Green Chive flavour – basically crack in a bag.

Highlights :

Batch Hazy Sour – Loved it

Batch Elsie Milk Stout

Grifter Big Sur – West Coast IPA

After imbibing a good few (many?) ales and sharing many a tale with good folks we made the short walk into the eclectic and chaotic Newtown. A hotpot of worldwide culinary delights that I would love to spend a few weeks or months exploring. Only one place was on our list tonight though and that was Faheems in the heart of Enmore Road, a Halal Pakistani Tandoori joint which I first (and last) visited 13 years prior. I also happened to be with my old mate who introduced me to Faheems all those years ago, and he used to vist this place as a ritual , most weeks I believe when he lived around the corner. I will never, ever forget the creamy spicy Lambs Brains and I was overjoyed to still see them on the menu.

Old mate was entrusted with the order and i think we got in most of the menu. It was absolutely unbelievable and goes down as one of the best meals I have had. No doubt having a fantastic night, surrounded by great people played a part, but seriously the Tandoori Chicken!! Outrageous.

My apologies for the lack of photos, I was too wrapped up in the moment and devouring the glory in front of me. But there was fish curry, lambs brains, tandoori chicken, dips, pickles and absolutely huge naans. Delightful.

Then a random pub for G & Ts to finish and that was that. An epic night.

And that was really that. I did hit up the Strand Cellars the next night, very quiet times indeed but it was a great store with a decent choice for this quiet part of town.

Two particular highlights I picked up were the Murrays Brewing Gardenia Double IPA. A beautiful big 8.5% hop hit! Awesome.

Followed by Prancing Pony – The Piper West Coast American IPA, another big hoppy hit, but smooth and easy to drink.

And, finally Wayward Brewing Red IPA – excellent, hoppy, malty goodness.

The Bowmore was pretty sweet too

Just a final note – we had a few drinks at the Summer Hill Hotel, a totally classic Aussie Pub, close to our location and with the standard very poor beer options. But, hold the phone caller…the Young Henrys Newtowner caught my eye and this little blighter certainly wasn’t Tooheys New. It was instead pretty decent Aussie pale ale, medium bodied, light but flavourful..yes you read correctly, flavourful! A welcome addition to the taps.

A little digging seems to show this Young Henrys brewery as becoming pretty big in Sydney and their beers are quite widely available in the city….I suspected some sort of Lion or Carlton involvement but it seems not. Rather Dan Murphy’s, the massive liquor outlet, appeared to get involved early on in stocking their beer and they grew from there. So cheers to that!

And so my wee Aussie adventure came to an end. I was very fortunate to get some exploration time and I am very keen to get do some more digging one day as I think there are many hidden delights here. I will leave you with this totally unrelated picture of my Margarita from the Koru Lounge! Why not?

Yes ..I know…

It all started with a hiss and a roar didn’t it. I got into this blog writing in a decent way, but quickly fell into the age old trap of getting round to the next post tomorrow. Then numerous tomorrows came and went and now here we are some 7 months later. Shocking stuff I know.

So without much further ado I will give you a very accelerated run down of beer, bites and bagpipe happenings in those last 7 months. When I last wrote I had gone somewhat rogue, carrying out ‘Davey’s Dry End of March into April’, 32 days of zero alcohol! And of course penning the hilarious Water Review post. It was surprisingly easy and I felt pretty great. However, one cannot live without the delights of beer for too long and neither can my tens of readers who long to be delighted by my blogging acumen.

So here we go, strap in:

May – I went to Sydney for some bagpipe related antics. Checked some craft beer spots and was generally disappointed with the ‘scene’ until we ventured to Batch Brewing and Grifter Brewing one eve. Both were excellent with some great beers. It was a welcome relief….more on Sydney next time.

Also- Faheems! Oh my god, Faheems. 13 years ago I went here and was blown away. Back we went and it was just as outstanding, if not better. Visit Sydney – go here!

June – not much happened, prepared for the impending Canada / Scotland trip, drank some beers , these were the best ones:

“Epic Sparks Imperial Stout “ which looks like a one off collab beer, and “Garage Project Fresh IPA – JUN” (seems they have a fresh one each month which is cool)

Oh, and my bagpipes basically snapped, which, if you know anything about the instrument – is not a great thing to happen and especially a few weeks out from the World Championships.

But, I did make this fucking delicious beef cheek ragu.

Fucking delicious

July: I flew to Vancouver ..yay! Somehow scored a business class upgrade thanks very much Air New Zealand

feet!

It was however via LAX which is a total shambles.

Vancouver though – amazing as always. Beers, bagpipes , unreal Sushi, chicken wings, Ribfest, beers, Pitch and Putt drama! Bagpipes, beers, whisky, ridiculous Dodge Challenger rental cars, beers etc etc etc…..Man in Van part 2 will delve into some of these delights!

Went to Scotland, played well at the Worlds. It rained.

Finally, I turned a significant age …let’s not dwell on this.

End of August / Sep / Oct and now early Nov: I came home having put on a few kg!

Got hammered at a party celebrating said significant age. Showed that I was definitely the significant age by heading home before 9.30pm.

Made a decision to eat less meat in general…it’s kind of going ok. Those big old grainy salad bowls are something to behold.

Went back to the gym. It is also kind of going ok!

Brewed a damn good beer with the other half , a Baylands Brewing 350 Session IPA Clone.

My Pipe Band put on a concert, it went quite well!

Made Pickled Daikon and Kimchi for the first time. Both were stand out successes and my second batch of Kimchi is bubbling away as we speak.

Ate the most exceptional food at Highwater Eatery. The Lamb Ribs were simply unbelievable.

Had a cracking pub crawl, drank more beers , won at ten pin bowling.

And there we are, very brisk and brief and ready to go again.

I have realised that I actually do quite enjoy penning these wee articles together, whether or not anyone else is reading and enjoying them is another matter entirely. But, many a new beer has been drunk in that time and I feel that you, my mystical and potentially non existent audience needs to be informed of this…so be prepared!

Water Hi -A Monthly Review*

Welcome back to another exciting entry from your favourite beer blogger!**

This week I shall be raving about the backbone of beer! The very essence of what makes the brews we love so delicious. Without this special ingredient we would not have any of the delightful concoctions we know and love as beer.

We are indeed surrounded by this mystery ingredient! Our rivers, lakes and streams are full of the stuff. It pisses down on us from above on an alarmingly regular occasion. Hell, our very bodies are nothing but about 70% of it and is the giver of life itself! What is this mystery adjunct??

Well, the most astute among us will have read the title. If you still were not sure after the above then please leave immediately.

I am most certain we will all by now have cleverly deduced that what I am banging on about is in fact WATER! GLORIOUS GLORIOUS WATER!

water

That’s right! An insight to the glorious H20 I have sipped and savoured over the last month, tearing apart the flavour profiles and providing you with a definitive list of must try waters from around the region. What could be better!

Straight into it today folks with my Number 1 – Good old Wellington Tap

Oh the irony!!!!!!!!!!!!

Clear, crisp and depending on your plumbing setup, cold. Beautifully odourless , you get absolutely nothing but the mild aftertaste of water pipe on the palette. With it just being the right viscosity this tap water is second to none.

Additionally, you can be rest assured that your dental health is in great hands, safe in the knowledge that you have between 0.7 and 1.0 ppm flouride coursing through your veins and straight to your gnashers with every gulp.

Believe me this is the ultimate thirst quencher

Number 2 – Kiwi Blue Spring Water

All gone. It must be good.

The only commercially bottled product to make my list. Yes, it is a Coca Cola backed product…, yes they are a large corporate. I have heard it all.

However, let us be thankful that at least these small craft, high quality waters that get bought up by the big players helps make them more accessible the general public and hopefully away from the tasteless “swill” we get from bigger brands.

Number 3 – Water cooler water, Opera House, Wellington.

I have no idea where this particular water is from other than “out of the “cooler” “. It was wet, mildly luke warm and took on the taste of the eco unfriendly plastic cup it was delivered in within seconds. Mild irritations aside, it quickly did the job required of any good water, and rehydrated the flagging body of a soul melting in the heat of the cheap seats during the Wellington Comedy Gala.

*I am sure you don’t need the explanation. I am 30 days off the beer as of today!….this is what it has done to me. Please enjoy this comical piece

** at least top 5 right…..

Beer Hi – April in Review

Take it all in for now folks! I’m officially ‘aff the beer for a few weeks in an effort to shed a few more kg and rest the old liver.

I head over to Sydney at the end of May for a bit of Bagpipe banter so will hoist myself back up onto the Craft wagon then, that is as long as there are Crafts to be had or it will be back to the delights within a schooner of Tooheys New! Something we all look forward too.

So, what has gone on since my last little round up? Well, we had the fantastic HAPI festival, and of course for all the pipe band readers of which I am sure there are literally tens, the National Championships in Dunedin (a link to the magnificent stream by Brassbanned.com of the days action from the Saturday!)

The bawnd!

As a bit of a team builder the band headed to the Speights Brewery, for a bit of craic during some down time. I wouldn’t choose to go here on my own, but it was excellent for a bit of banter with a good crowd. The tour itself…well, it had it’s moments, the fellow taking us was very insistent on telling us how amazing the Company was, how many beer and food companies they had control of and just basically how much ‘stuff’ they owned. The very reasons why so many people are turned off by the big dominant breweries. However, we got to sample numerous beers at the end, most were pretty lacklustre but I will give them some credit for the “Summer Haze Pale Ale”. It was pretty refreshing and actually had some flavour. To be fair, Speights tend to produce the most palatable of the ‘large brews’ in my most humble of opinions.

A wee explore of Dunedin was required and a tip off led us to a small and cozy Scottish pub called Albar. It was certainly reminiscent of being back home with the tightly packed bar, leather seated booths and extensive Gin and Whisky selection. The beer on tap at this time though was not particularly mind blowing and I settled for a Sawmill Pale Ale on hand pull…( I think it was the Pale Ale… it was definitely Sawmill but we got stuck into some Hendricks after this and memories have faded) Anyway, the experience was not amazing, but the Gin made it worthwhile and I would be keen to check out those Single Malts on a return visit.

And let us not forget the glory of Lime Scooters! Probably the highlight of the sojourn down south. Note – not great for transporting beverages:

Another Pipe band related trip took me up to Tauranga a few weeks later and with a little time to spare I managed to take in a quality establishment called Rising Tide. A wondrous place with a ridiculous number of taps and the most meaty and flavoursome dumplings I have sampled to date!

The majority of beers on tap are by the Mount Brewing Company, although there is a wide and varying selection from around New Zealand. I was impressed by the value for money here. $7 pints, $15 Growlers and $10 for 8 massive dumplings. However I paid through the nose ($35 from memory) for a growler of Slab Brewing Naked City IPA , another small local brewery which I had not come across before. It was excellent! But I wonder why it was so much? Also, the liquor store next door seems to have some sort of control over a couple of taps, meaning you cant get a take away depending on what is pouring in there. A little weird quirk, especially annoying when the liquor store is closed.

However I thoroughly recommend a visit if you are up in the Bay of Plenty. Great atmosphere, lots of good beer (the Mr Jones IPA was the best of a few I tried) and the aforementioned dumplings are worth the trip alone.

Ok, on to my Top 5 for April in no particular order:

Actually screw that, number 1 by a long way and my first 5 start review in a looooong time, Behemoth – The Dude Abides, Imperial Milk Stout.
This is up there as one of the best beers I’ve had. A toasty, slightly bitter caramel white Russian in a beer. Insanity yet stunning!

Spectacular

There is now order from here on in , number two: Deep Creek Brewing Wisdom IPA (Totem Project). An interesting ‘little’ West Coast IPA number which at first had me very underwhelmed but in a few minutes the can was empty and I was quite sad. Would have again!

3 – Another Deep Creek Number, this time the Drop Top Chardonnay Brut IPA! As I have previously admitted am an IPA fiend and have difficulty straying away into ‘unuusal’ styles. Brut is one of these, but in the interests of furthering my experiences and actually having content to write about, I have no choice but to experiment.

This one was pretty good! This is an IPA fermented with Chardonnay grape juice you certainly get that forward fruit!

4 – Tuatara Double Trouble. A massive, bitter 9% hop explosion. Just my cup of tea but rendered me a blubbering mess immediately after.

5 – As noted above, the Mount Brewing Mr Jones IPA. Slaking my thirst alongside those plump meaty pork dumplings absolutely made my month complete.

That is it for another little while, stay tuned for a little reminisce about Denver, Colorado and hopefully some new exciting content during this brief dry period!

very dry

I’m so HAPI

Huh, because I’m Hapi
All these new beers waiting for me, get them into ma bell-ly
Because I’m not so hapi
Freeze my ass off in the rain and, inside chaos gener-allly
Because I’m happy
Clap along.. if the big old whales heart got you right in the mood 
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you also.. got more pissed than you should

The HAPI Festival has been and gone. If my poorly executed verse above has not described it sufficiently then here is my reasonably succinct summary in a more traditional prose.

The Queues and the Chaos !

Well, to begin with anyway. A huge queue awaited us on a traditional, blissful Wellington night ie, a freezing, howling southerly with intermittent biting rain. Despite arriving fifteen minutes early it was already winding its way back towards the markets car park. The doors did not open until 7.30 pm and only impending
beer glory kept the motivation levels high as we embraced a half hour of bitter cold and wet, slowly meandering our way into the foyer.

The various bars were set up on the ground floor, next too the little spinny globe thing that we all know and love (disappointingly, but sensibly not switched on tonight) and also up the first flight of stairs outside the Gallipoli exhibit, with food also readily available on both floors.

It was all a little bit crammed and chaotic. The space could not initially handle the 500 or so eager drinkers, who were also unsure of what exactly the ‘system’ was. There were 2 breweries per stand, and volunteers were scrambling about trying to get us to form one line per brewery, but the queues were so long you couldn’t get close enough to see what was pouring, so it was basically a gamble of standing at the back of a massive pack, edge forward and see where you ended up.
“What the hell is going on here?” and “I just want a fuckin’ beer” were the two most popular phrases at this point, but herd mentality soon took over, scoffing at the official approach as we evolved into a much more sensible ‘one line per stand and verge left or right at the last minute’ approach.

So, the first beer was not sipped until roughly 8pm, a good half hour after the doors opened and kegs were tapped. Not a great start for sure, but as everyone settled in and discovered that there was actually a lot of free space away from the bars to take stock and chill out, it turned out just fine.

Absolute top quality beverages

The selection was magnificent. All breweries had a selection of 4 for the night with a wide range from Goses to Triple IPA’s to massive Imperial Stouts. Perhaps a little heavy on IPA generally but I guess that was the point being a ‘hop forward’ occasion. Of the 80 or so beverages available I mustered a paltry 16 samples, but with barely a beer below 6% and the taster pour being decent I have to say that was a reasonable effort. I was certainly a touch wobbly by the end and the general merriment of the crowd by 11 pm was notable! But, the overall standard of beer was exceptional, such that I could still determine that Beer 16 was different to 15 and so forth…well, at least I think I did.

The beer highlights:

The queue for the Omnipollo Lorelei Imperial Double Porter never wavered for the whole night and it wasn’t hard to understand why. Served with some flavoured, crushed ice from a slushy machine, it was…well, unbelievable. Toasted Coconut and Maple abound, and a miraculous balance of flavour and just so more-ish. This was unique in every way and I would not hesitate to go back for more. Beer of the night for me.

Unreel beer. Celebrities not pictured – Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi having a chat off to the side..I’m not a wierdo paparazzi type

My IPA of the night belonged to Monkish Brewing. Their 7th Anniversary DDH DIPA was 8.7% of sheer glory but from out of left field two of my standouts were a Gose and a Saison of all things. I try to avoid Saisons like the plague, but my head told me to get out of my IPA comfort zone wherever possible and this led me to the Hill Farmstead Nordic Saison and the Mikkeller San Diego Passion Pool Gose. Both were welcome relief from the hop heavy DIPA’s and TIPA’s, with both providing excellent palette cleansing, refreshing qualities. The Gose in particular was fantastic, without that wretched aftertaste so prevalent in sour beers. Both would be perfect for copious quaffing of a summers day!

The Alvarado Street Brewery Sunny Hours DIPA is also worth a mention. Hazy , juicy and bold. This was sipped slowly during a little downtime halfway through whilst munching on some quite shockingly flavourless and rock solid mushroom dumplings. I hope that wasn’t a reflection on the rest of the food offferings.

Piss poor shrooms…

There were not any particularly bad beers, a couple were unmemorable and a couple I just didnt enjoy, mainly the super alcoholic, bordering on Port “beers”. Just not for me, never have been.

Overall, it was a great night. A shaky start certainly but once things got settled it was perfectly fine. I heard some mutterings of it being quite expensive and I suppose it probably was in retrospect. On average $3 /$3.50 for a taste, then $7 or $8 for a full pour that wasn’t much bigger than the taste. But when you factor in what it must have cost to freight the kegs of awesomeness from around the world I think it was very reasonably priced. Not only that but the room was FULL of craft brewers from around the globe! It was a delight all round.

Hopefully this grows into an annual event as we don’t get that much opportunity to try so many different worldwide brews in one place at one time. It certainly requires a few tweaks – more space around the bars is a must. Perhaps think about opening the doors earlier so people can get inside and suss it all out a bit before the taps open and help avoid that initial chaos? All a punter wants is to get that first beer in when they are through the door, so just make it easy to do. Also, look to improve the food, and absolutely get on top of refilling the water coolers! Running out is a bit of a no no as happened here later in the night, although the bars did have plenty but it all looked a bit shabby.


I think visibility of what is pouring is also a must – you had to barge your way through a mass of bodies to see what was on offer before barging back again and joining the queue. Chuck a couple of TV screens up with the current list and locations perhaps?

The jury is out on the EFTPOS pay as you go system, is it better than the token system? I don’t know, it seemed to work ok with minimal delays to be fair. You are going to have to queue either way. If this event does continue maybe they will go the Beervana loaded wristband route, or look at a self loading app?

Last but not least – we need more life size Whale Hearts at these things. This was very popular with the big kids and kept security on their toes for most of the night!

Playtime!

HAPI Days are here again

I am excited! Genuinely acting like I was 20 years younger excited right now!

Take a little look at this beautiful event happening in my glorious big village, tomorrow April 6th. The HAPI festival has been co-ordinated by Garage Project after developing a very exciting hop supply business, to better provide for overseas brewers utilising the magnificent NZ range. They also wanted to showcase some of the exceptional beers being brewed by like minded forward thinkers, so why not link the two together? Why not indeed.

And the lineup that has been put together for this event, to be held at Te Papa Museum, looks simply incredible. 19 Breweries from all over the US, UK and Scandinavia are having kegs of fresh, hop forward beers air freighted in especially to tickle the taste buds of the likes of you and me.

As you will have noted from my previous posts (go read them if you haven’t already….off you pop..) you will know I love to try new stuff. As we know Garage Project love to experiment and a gander at the line up is no exception to this. I have tried very few beers from the list, so I’m going to be like a kid in a candy store tomorrow night. I am also super excited to see what the guys who’s beer I have tried are bringing to the table.
So, who is coming? Here we go:

Hill Farmstead – Vermont, USA

The Bruery – Orange County, California, USA

Cloudwater Brewing– London, UK

Firestone Brewing – California, USA. I was stuck in LA for a night last year after a delay coming home from Denver. I made it to a magnificent burger place called
Stout Burgers N Beers in Santa Monica, and the Luponic Distortion Series 10 was on tap. It was fantastically hoppy, I wonder if it will be the series 12? Certainly will be keen to try out their offering tomorrow

Modern Times – San Diego / Portland, USA. These guys produced one of my favourite Hazies the Orderville IPA, …I’m never going to make it to midnight.

Other Half Brewing – Brooklyn/Rochester, Noo Yoik, USA

The Veil Brewing Co. – Richmond, Virginia, USA

Mikkeller – Copenhagen, Denmark. I am positive I have tried beers from these guys but I don’t see any on my list ­čśŽ . Ah, well, tomorrow will change that! Always. Log. My Beer.

Sierra Nevada – California / North Carolina. Arguably the most recognisable name on the list.

Crooked Stave Brewing – Denver, USA. Despite giving Denver a decent nudge in 2018, I didn’t come across these guys. Their beers look exceptional and wild and they have a specific ‘Brett’ Yeast project which definitely adds these guys firmly to the top of my list.

Trillium Brewing – Boston, USA

Alvarado Brewing – Monterey, California, USA

Omnipollo Brewing – Stockholm, Sweden

Stone Brewing USA and Worldwide! Along with Sierra Nevada another of the bigger brewers here…I have zero against them, but my preference is to see what the little guy has to offer first.

Tired Hands Brewing – Ardmore, Philadelphia, USA

Monkish Brewing – Los Angeles, USA

CANarchy Craft Brew Collective – Unbelievable. This collective, ranked well inside the top 50 of US Craft Brewers comprises a number from around the US; Oskar Blues Brewery, Perrin Brewing Company, Cigar City Brewing, Squatters Craft Beers and Wasatch Brewery, Deep Ellum Brewing Company and Three Weavers Brewing Company. I have sampled at least four by Oskar Blues and all were excellent. Gimme Gimme Gimme!

An Oskar Blues Classic

Cellarmaker Brewing – San Francisco, USA

The Bruery – California/Washington DC, USA. These guys again look very experimental, specialising in Barrel Aged beers. Tick! Hit me up.

Look at all that choice. Incredible!

So, the festival for the proletariat is preceded by an industry only Symposium earlier in the day, which has been offered to all independent breweries in NZ. So no doubt brewers and representatives from all over the place will be mingling among us later, a who’s who of the brewing world. Hopefully armed to answer lots of my silly questions.
This for me takes the Winter Ale Fest and the ‘all the right intentions but slightly underdone’ Pacific Beer Expo to the next level.

There is clearly an exceptional choice and I am keen, and must, try something from all of them. This will take will power, pateience, hydration, small tasters and a slow pace (booooooo…nope, I can do this…) so as to decrease the somewhat elevated chances of being a blubbering mess a few hours in.

There is just no other way to describe it, for all crafty beer lovers out there – this will be cool.

Beer Hi – A ‘Weekly’ Review 20 March 2019

(yes, yes, not really weekly …more like almost monthly)

Double Yolker! Made my week.

You may be rightly wondering what the hell is going on in the above picture, other than the delights of a double yolker. Well, I didnt have much food left in the fridge so hashed together a bizarre omelette, onion, cheese concoction and liberally slathered it in Sriracha sauce. It was delicious. But there is clearly a very deep and hidden meaning within those double yolks, something related to this post being a two for one as it is clearly not a weekly follow up to the last, or that the quest is now over for, you, the beer blog reader endlessly searching for that true hidden gem…….yip, that’s it, I’m sticking to that one.

So, onward we go with another little summary of most recent beers in the last couple of weeks. Once again budgetry and dietry (watching that weight you know) restraints are keeping a simmering lid on the totals drunk, but is ensuring that almost every beer that I try now is totally unique.

First a CONFESSION! I DRANK SOME DOU BROUS AND YOU COULD BE NEXT!

I apologise for this

Well, not if your sensible unlike me. Look, it was a pipe band practice weekend, things tend to get a little loose afterward…no? No excuses you say. You are right. And yes, they taste less than average. That’s right “they”, I drank more than one. I don’t mind the odd smashing of a Speights Original or Steiny Pure, perfect when it is ludicrously hot and I’m dressed in my kilted costume. I’m not that much of a beer snob. This nonsense gave me no pleasure whatsoever.

Now to the serious stuff. I am dealing with about 20 unique beers since the last post so I will summarise with a clear, concise top 5 , in no particular order:

1 – Hop Elixir NZ IPA – Martinborough Brewery.

I was piping at a wedding over at Coney Wines in Martinborough. Beautiful setting and a beautiful day to boot. I was lucky enough to have a long wait between sets so headed into town and picked up 5 bottles of the breweries offerings. This was the pick of the bunch, super malty, super hoppy and just damn tasty. Their two stouts are also worth a nudge and a visit to the very tidy taproom is a must.

2 – Music City Hazy Mosaic IPA, Behemoth Brewing

A growler fill this time to start an epic beer and food night at the house. Is there nothing Behemoth can’t do well …I have a bit of a beer crush on these guys right now. Hopped with Mosaic, a fruity, clean, American hop I found this one to be quite sweet overall, with passion fruit notes but currently ranking as a favourite in my Hazy list!

3 – Apehanger IPA, Bootleg Brewery

cool

I must confess that this is the first beer I have tried from Bootleg, a Hamilton based brewery, and I am impressed. Full of NZ and American hops the profile really brought back memories of drinking a solid IPA in Vancouver., it just seemed to have that little bit extra to separate it from a very over crowded IPA scene. This beer was the best in class, Gold Trophy Winner at 2017 Brewers Guild Awards, and made the list of top 50 beers in NZ for 2018. How on earth has it taken me this long to find it! I think I need to print that top 50 and add it to the overall quest.

4 – Imperial Nibs Porter – Kereru Brewing

Nibs. Is there a word more pleasing? And the beer is just as good.
Rich chocolate & coconut. What is not to love here! Nibs.

5 – Verbotene Fr├╝chte Schwarzbier – Garage Project

Look! I mean just look! A Black Forest Gateau in a beer!

My exact comments on this – it tasted like slightly toasted cake. Refer cake above. Magnificent.

That’s it again for another round up. I have also just about, almost thought about my next retrospective post regarding my foray into Denver, Colorado, US of A and the excellence of the beer scene I sampled in my short time there last year. So that is coming! Very soon. Let’s say “next week”

Beer Hi – A weekly review

Hi!

A shorter post today for you, just a few musings on some of the quality ales I have imbibed over the past week or so!

Will try to make this a regular thing I think, which is obviously majestic for all involved – you the reader of course will be utterly thrilled and I get to experiment as much as possible with even more unique and delicious beers!

A delicious beverage

I will start with probably my favourite beverage of the last week or two – The Parrotdog “Colin” West Coast IPA. It is big, bold, malty and hoppy as hell but without being ‘chewy’ as many can be. At 7% it packs a decent punch but it is a glorious drop which leaves you wanting more but not too much if you want to avoid feeling a tad dusty the next day.

I must add at this juncture that I love Parrotdog. The quintessential beer success story, taking their original homebrew Bitterbitch to Beervana one year and taking out the Peoples Choice award. This beer is a few years old now but is an absolute staple in their range and in my fridge.

I also recommend giving their Hazy IPA’s a nudge – the “Susan” and “Keith”, both only 6% but stand up to the bigger Hazy’s out there. These guys just know how to do decent beer! Get out to there tap room in Island Bay too, well worth it.

Keith

My Pipe Band had a contest out at Scots College on Saturday ( we won..) and a post contest thirst quencher was much needed after sweating our asses off in unexpectedly hot conditions. An error in communications led us to the Gasworks in Miramar, a Wellington Hospitality Group owned bar – so , it’s going to be “ok”, but, like the others out there in the chain , is a bit generic. However, I do enjoy that they have a number of rotating taps for some independent brews so I went for the Whistling Sisters Red Pils, followed by the Tinker Tailor APA. Both very enjoyable, in particular the Red Pils, giving the drinker a little more interest than just a regular Czech Pilsner.

I will finish with another couple of highlights of the last week or so:

Deep Creek – Lupulin Effect Double IPA, another great example of fantastic beer coming out the much improved and ever growing Auckland scene. This one is deceptively easy to drink for an 8.5%’er. Would have again, but not on the same night!

8 Wired Juice Control Hazy IPA, again very easy to drink and full of flavour. Perhaps just a little light on the “juice” but a great drop none the less. 8 Wired are another fantastic Auckland Brewery who constantly produce excellence.

A couple of other Garage Project offerings saw out my last couple of Sundays. Both were big old IPAs (yes, I am a sucker for the IPA) Here I went for the West Coast Ultra Dry IPA – excellent and lower in Carbs, what more do you need! Then the Boss Level Douple IPA, and although I rated it highly, one is seriously enough! Rolling in at 8.5% it is a big old bitter number but unbelievably tasty. Although these guys do a fair bit of experimentation it is good to know they can pump out classic styles with aplomb.

Oh, and seeing as the blog does have the word “bites” in the title , I thought I would treat you to my favourite dish to cook up of a Sunday and accompany my numerous libations, behold the wondrous Chicken Saag. As I like to turn up the heat a little, the second pan you see has the addition of a ludicrously hot red chilli, it might be a Habanero? I dont remember other than it stung. A lot. I am not proud of myself for this. I still can’t quite seem to match one I made with the addition of just half of a hotter red Ghost Chilli, it ended up very hot but with more of a tang than a burn like this one.

So, this weekend could see a return to a the Homebrew world…will see how we go. It will certainly see a few recipes getting knocked out in the Kitchen though. Potentially a Ramen broth, possibly a Goan Pork Vindaloo , certainly a slab of bacon will be smoked and undoubtedly all will be accompanied by some new craft ales.

Man in Van!

Standard Van Scenery

Welcome back! I have to admit to nothing much of anything happening since I started my blogging empire a week or two ago. I did get angry again at another beer calling itself a hazy, but being nowhere close…slap on the wrist to you Abbey “Brewing”, a winery by day I see!  Their Calypso APA was so so, but no no no , you were not a big delicious juicy New England IPA! Ruined my Sunday evening*

*not really

So, I am going to regale you all with some Vancouver tales for now. Where to start?? The scene and general excellence in this spectacular city is worthy of numerous posts so I’m going to start with a run down of some of the new breweries I visited on my Summer 2018 trip, and at some point in the future I will pull 4-5 years of “research” together into a best and not quite as best post. I don’t think there are any that could be categorised as “worst”.

One note before I proceed, why is the beer selection on board and in the Air New Zealand Koru Lounge Beer so shocking?…for an airline which proudly celebrates the best of kiwi culture, it is sadly lacking in this department. At least Singapore Airlines have cottoned on teaming up with the excellent Garage Project to offer us mortals some decent ales whilst stuck in their tin tubes.

Anyhow, per the latest update on the BC Ale trail website there are some 178 breweries in business for our quaffing pleasure. This takes in the wider British Columbia area , which is, well, fucking huge. The entirety of the UK can comfortably fit inside as this hastily put together image proves!

Of the 36 dotted around Vancouver and North Van I am proud to say I have visited at least 23 (from a hazy memory). Add the four from Port Moody, a couple around New West / Burnaby / Coquitlam then a few over in Vancouver Island, up to Whistler…well, you get the picture. Not too bad when your generally limited to the Sky Train, 2 legged transport and time ….Pipe Band is a serious business y’all, cant be rocking up to practices drunk. Light headed? sure!

In addition there are many solid brew pubs around hosting many local beers – I recommend The Alibi Room in Gastown which is one of the best. Exceptional food, wings a highlight, and a majestic beer selection taking in many of the weird and wonderful from the region.

St Augustines on Commercial Drive, is not only located right at the Skytrain stop at one of the most eclectic streets in the city, but is a superb starting point for your brewery crawl in East Van, plus it’s a cracker spot for people watching. A past time that you could waste days on here!

I also make a point of visiting CRAFT each year. Yes, its a bit “big” and slightly commercial, but with over 100 taps and a regular seasonal rotation you can’t really argue. The food is decent but certainly had not changed over the 4 years I have visited ..however the views out back and on the way are exceptional.

And, not forgetting the John B in Coquitlam, no frills but now with over 80 taps and very good rotating seasonal selection. Exceptional for a local pub, and the Monday Wing nights are epic!

I also make a point of going to the Black Frog, next to the Steam Clock purely because it was one of the first bars I visited back in 2015 so it holds that nostalgic place in my heart. It is perfectly fine, but nothing that sets the heather alight. Super friendly but not amazing any more it pains me to say.

On to my 2018 explorations. It turns out I managed to hit 6 new breweries this time around, which is not too shabby given the aforementioned limitations. First I made it too Electric Bicycle Brewing situated on East 4th Ave, just off Main Street (which in itself is worth a day or two if you have the time).

It is certainly one of the quirkiest tap rooms I have visited and I believe was only a few months old when I went. Totally unpretentious and certainly not afraid to experiment. They only had a small selection but all four I tasted had something unique about them. Most notable were the “It’s No Game” American IPA, which was delightful and the “Frosty Mugs Brown Ale”, made with lactose, sassafras, fresh ginger, juniper and certainly star anise was evident! Also, excellent but no longer brewed as a regular ale. The others on the flight were a Strawberry Lemonade IPA and a Session Ale. I was always going to go back here and one look at their current list makes this decision a no brainer.

Another free day rendered a trip to one that had been on the list for a few years. Postmark Brewing, on the corner of Dunley and Alexander right in the heart of Downtown Eastside. For those unfamiliar…it can get a little sketchy down here. You wouldn’t know it upon stepping inside the brewery though. It is strikingly grandiose, almost perversely so compared to some of the dereliction of its surrounds. On my way back toward the Alibi Room this was most evident by some locals enjoying the fruits of their long glass pipe.

The beer here – meh, unremarkable. Their Kettle Soured Saison and Juicy Pale Ale were pretty good but generally just a little tame overall. In total contrast to Electric Bicycle, this place felt just overly lavish and like they were trying too hard too impress. That can be forgiveable if the beer has some sort of wow factor…but it didnt.

With a few hours to kill I headed out once again to Commercial Drive, walked its length from the Skytrain and took up a pew at East Van Brewing, another new kid on the block. It is a sensational tap room. Spacious, friendly and comes with pinball! However, 4 of the 6 beers were exceptionally timid, only the “Double Venom” DIPA and “Unholy One” Stout offering any sort of excitement. From memory they had a dozen or so to choose from, and maybe I got unlucky with my choices but, I would much rather see 3 to 4 staples done exceptionally well with a couple of excellent seasonals on top, then mix it up with a regular flow of the experimentals, the more outrageous the better too! These guys seemed like they just wanted to offer everything at once. Would be keen to give them another chance though!

Onward to Callister Brewing, a collaborative brewery which allows independent brewers access to their equipment in order to start and progress their business. It is also the home of Good Buddy and Sundown Brewing.  Sounds Great and it is great! It provides plenty of choice which is not ideal when faced with just 4 on my flight in the effort to remain untainted for practice later. Well worth the trip and plenty to choose from

Just down the road from Callister is Strathcona Beer Co. By now,I had limited time so ended up hoofing back a ‘Canned Heat’ hefe and grabbing a takeaway pizza. Both were excellent, Hefeweizen is certainly not a style I regularly enjoy but this was remarkably pleasant as were the surrounds. Although Strathcona Beer Co have been around for a number of years the building had recently had an overhaul. Well worth going and I certainly intend doing it more justice another time.

Lastly, and closer to “home”I made it to Mariner Brewing in Coquitlam – another newbie on the scene and a first for Coquitlam. Overall, it is pretty good! They do a decent meat & cheese platter if you are peckish, the beer…yeah, it’s not bad. It again seemed just a little timid overall, I get that they are probably feeling their way into a reasonably crowded market , but you aint gonna turn heads by producing middle of the road fare. The Sour needs more sour, the Berliner Weisse is ok but give me more! The Hazy…no, more Hazy please! Their NorthEast IPA was by far my favourite – big, bitter hops with a smooth balanced finished. A growler of this was certainly enjoyed later.

All being well I shall be back over in July 2019 for more pipe band and ale quaffing antics. I note at least three or four more Breweries in the locale as “Opening Soon”, which is exceptional. I fully intend to finally hit up Luppolo Brewing this trip. The last 2 years I have tried to find this place but for whatever reason I fail each time. It can’t be that hard surely? (in fairness I don’t actually think it was open in 2016 despite it being listed, 2017…who knows?)

There are also plans afoot to spend a day and a night up in Squamish. A beautiful, quaint town about an hour or so north of Vancouver. I passed through a few years ago on the way up to Whistler. A sensational drive and home to three breweries; Howe Sound, A-Frame and Back Country.
Howe Sound was awesome so I thoroughly look forward to this new adventure.

Round the Haze

fog
Very hazy indeed

Right, time to get semi real here. This is just some about stuff that I like!

In 2017 it seemed that the World went mad for Sours and Goses!! It certainly seemed that any Brewery worth its salt was required to have a solid Sour or two alongside the staple Pale Ale’s, IPA’s and Porter’s* ..just FYI La Folie Sour Brown Ale by New Belgium Brewing, unreal if you get the opportunity to try!

When I say “world” I can only speak for wherever the hell I happened to be in the World at that time, being Vancouver and then back home in Wellington.  I also spent a few weeks in Denver, Colorado  prior to all of this becoming a certified FAA Flight Dispatcher, a slightly bizarre left field turn of events but maybe more on that another time.  Utilising the stock standard “Craft beer, wherever the hell I am in the world right now” Google Map approach, I was to be found weeping in the corner of my motel room as I discovered a scene bursting with opportunity mere yards from my front door, and having only about 2 days of free time to explore.  The merest scratchings of a massive surface in a delightful pictorial display below – I did not too badly with my time:

Turn the clock forward…back?? , lets say forward to 2018 and the world definitely did, and still is going mad for the Hazy IPA, also known as the New England IPA, renowned for bold, juicy flavours and the distinct ‘pea souper’ consistency.  Big, fruity hops are added late and masses of dry hopped goodness all contribute toward this, like the sour, somewhat polarising style of brew.

Personally I love ’em! I am a huge IPA fan, gotta love those Hops.  But some of the overwhelming bitterness can get a little much to take. Step forward the Hazy. Fruit forward, a little bit of bitter and exceptionally drinkable.  This is potentially now my favourite style to date…step aside Milk Chocolate Stout and GTF Vanilla Coffee Porter!

Back to the Hazies.  As I say, I love em, and it has been interesting sampling what was on offer over the summer in BC then coming back to a veritable fruit explosion in New Zealand.

I do find those I tried in BC, a solid mix of Canadian and US beers, just a little more punchy.  Certainly bigger on the fruit and not afraid to serve you a juicy glass of what looks like pulp. In saying that the Kiwi versions absolutely stand up in terms of flavour and balance.  I have had very little poor experiences with the Hazy but 3 in recent memory didn’t quite make the grade for me.

Unfortunately all 3 were kiwi beers.  “Hey Day Phase Wave” & “Deep Creek Misty Miyagi” were both just ok, a little bitter for me, lacking the fruity balance I would expect.  More recently “The Renegade by Fortune Favours, didn’t really pull its weight as a Hazy at all…if you say your a Hazy, then give me a Hazy. It was a perfectly fine beer to quaff of an eve, totally inoffensive but lacking any renegade risk taking at all.  A consequence perhaps of pressure to appeal to the masses? A topic for another time I think.

On the upside of this my current favourites are also Kiwi, go us! Now I do love pretty much everything by Behemoth and there is no mistaking the beauty of the ‘Lid Ripper’, ‘Humorous Ludicrous’ and the ‘Maths, Science, History’.  All just a little bit different, and all sensational in their own right.  The Humorous utilising “pure lupulin in the form of Cryo Hops” , my understanding of this being no cone or pellet hops, just powder.   It is a wonderful end result.

Denver served some delights but to be fair I was not overly aware of the Hazy craze at this point. One that stood out was “Woods Boss Brewing – Vivette”. An 8% fruit bowl in the face. Also, the tap room is outstanding so well worth a visit.

Vancouver! Ohhhhh Vancouver!!! Wonderful Vancouver…my third home after Welly and Aberdeen (did I mention I was born and raised in the land of sheep..real sheep mind, not your nonsense Southern hemisphere sheep, once again I digress)

A number of posts are likely to be forthcoming regarding my various adventures around this wondrous city, but for now I shall stick to going over the top on the merits of two outstanding Haze filled beauties.

1 – The Yellow Dog High Five IPA

Sensational. No more words; and

2 – Backcountry Brewing – The Widowmaker

Looks like a glass of fruit juice and I am sure many a “WTF is this” has been muttered upon its arrival. Fear not, its majestic. And at 6.7% is fortunately / unfortunately quite sessionable. Well worth the headache.

Incidentally the Yellow Dog Brewery is a fabulous tap room. One of four along a little stretch in Port Moody that includes Moody Ales, Twin Sails Brewing and Parkside Brewing.  Super easy to access via the Sky Train, and anyone visiting BC who enjoys a wee beer needs to get out there.  If visiting in July certainly head to the Port Moody Rib Fest! Unbelievable scenes.  A dream world for meat lovers and beers on tap from the four breweries.

Some honourable mentions before I wrap this scintillating post up.

1 – “The Wild Beer Company – Trendy Juice – based in Somerset, England

I had this in a cracking bar called Six Degrees North, whilst home in Aberdeen a few years ago.   Kind of pointless to post about the beer as they no longer brew it, however the company is worth a mention given their penchant for unusual fermentation techniques and seasonal ingredients.

2 – McLeods 802 #11 – Waipu, NZ

Delicious!

3 – “Set Wave – Heyday Beer” – Wellington, NZ

I love Heyday and everything about it. Their fried chicken is a delight and this beer is a standout.

4 – “Modern Times – Orderville Hazy IPA” – San Diego, USA

Another one highly rated on my list.  I seem to remember this one balancing nicely with my salt and pepper chicken wings from the magnificent John B Pub in Coquitlam, BC.

There you have it. A little bit on the Hazy! I feel a follow up later in the year as I will certainly be prioritising this style in 2019.

Hopefully the breweries keep pumping them out, or will see a polar shift to the weird and wonderful Clear IPA??

clear
I can see clearly now the Haze has gone

*I welcome grammatical critique here in regard to apostrophes, never a strong point for me