Beer Jerk Advent Calendar and other stories

Silly season beer

It is officially the silly season….woop dee feckin doo! Just to be clear the sarcasm is dripping through the screen here. In order get through / embrace the season of good will I decided to throw myself enthusiastically into ordering plentiful beers via some of the awesome online purveyors of fine ales. This has meant by stark old pantry cupboards are now in plentiful supply of excellence to enjoy and numb the nonsense that inevitably ensues.

So I was most pleased to make an order of the Beer Jerk advent calendar. 24 beers for 24 days , and not just regular old standards you night get in a regular order, but 24 more rare releases from a wide variety of breweries, from NZ and worldwide. I was not disappointed upon opening as there were only 2 within that I recognised as having imbibed previously These were the outrageous 14.9% Urbanaut Imperial Triple Hazy, which is basically a meal in a can and the Modern Times Orderville Hazy which I remember being an absolute delight!

And yes, I have totally gone against all Christmas tradition and opened them all at once. Where is my Christmas spirit? Sitting firmly beside the Grinch in the Grinches cave I’m afraid, but I am drinking them in the exact order as they were boxed, so that is something right? Too bad if it isnt, but perhaps some sense of childhood wonderment will appear via some other nostalgic Xmas nonsense.

As I tend to not drink through the working week in an attempt to kid myself I am being more healthy, I shall not be opening a beer every day of December, but will instead do what every responsible drinker does and cram them all in over the weekends. Now, on to the beers:

Dec 1 – Urbanaut Imperial Triple Hazy (Auckland, NZ)

Just an outrageous start to proceedings. A huge huge beer in a very tiny can, but believe me you could not drink a pint of this. Not that it is bad in any way, but you would simply collapse in a massive heap of your own uncontrollable limbs by half way. Yes its chewy, but its delicious and would drink again in a heartbeat.

Dec 2 – Amundsen Brewery Parallel Worlds Respberry and Tonka Sour (Norway)

Loved this. Tasted like Pastry as described, the Raspberry was wonderful and it was balanced well by the Tonka (which I discovered is similar in nature to Vanilla). Two for two so far!

Dec 3 – Dugges Bryggeri Porter (Sweden)

Exceptionally roasty toasty flavour, almost overpowering, but not quite. I did enjoy it though and was a nice end to an enjoyable evening of sampling. However, I was rather “upset” in the stomach department the next day which was weird. I have put the blame on this beers shoulders ..perhaps unfairly

Dec 4 – Modus Operandi Former Tenant Red IPA

Even comes with a hilarious back story regarding a former tenant of the brewery growing weed and getting caught or some such. However for me this is where the “fun”ended. The first sip didn’t fill me with confidence, then I thought it grew on me but I found it hard to get to the end of the can. My drinking buddy concurred and didn’t drink more than a few sips. Sorry Modus.

Dec 5 – Eddyline Black Lager (Nelson, NZ or Colorado, USA)

According to the Beer Jerk Facebook page, I have made an early error. Apparently it should have been the Alesmith Brewing Hazy, ah well then. It is what it is !

I have also discovered via the power of the interwebs that Eddyline are also based in Colorado! You learn something new every day after all.

Well, I have to admit I have not been singing from the rooftops about their beers so far, but this one is indeed slightly better than the rest! It is pretty big and roasty which you dont fully expect, but it thankfully mellows out a bit.

Dec 6 – Ground Up Brewing Monk Life Saison (Wanaka, NZ)

Not a huge fan of the Saison style but this was pleasant, very drinkable and it is always pleasing to discover a new brewery. Shall look to investigate this one some more based on this rather lovely drop.

More on the advent calendar next time but meanwhile and within all of this excitement I drank some other delightful and not so delicious ales.

Good

Can Behemoth do no wrong?? As you may have noted from my past ravings , I love Behemoth and everything they do.

This week I went for the “Lenny and Carl”, another of their Hazy Hop Buddy range, this one brewed with Cira and Sabro hops, which I am not familiar with. Simply delicious once again , far superior I am sure to Duff.

My second choice for my Sunday sampling was the “Thanks Pecan Pie”, a 9.7% Imperial Stout. Now, this one pained me, I could not make up my mind. It was so sweet, sickly so. But at the same time I could not stop drinking it. I dont have much of a sweet tooth and really dont eat that much in the way of desserts or sweet items. But when I do, like this, it must trigger something deep inside my brain because I could not get enough. It did not make me want to go and try a Pecan Pie either.

It was not as good as the “Mmmmm Doughnuts”. A beer that tasted exactly like doughnuts! I mean, come on! What is the world coming too here. It was fantastic.

In amongst by rabid online ordering, I visited Garage Project on a friends recommendation to purchase their Triple Hazy IPA, Excessive Machine. It was built up somewhat and I have to say deservedly so. Would be up there for one of the beers of the year I think.

Not so Good

As part of making my order “worthwhile” (I like to justify the delivery costs so always order too much) I also got in two of their special releases, and you would have to agree they are quite festive released no?

Well , if so then I hate Christmas more. Sorry, but both the “Golden Raspberry and Lemon White Chocolate Stout” and the Dark Chocolate Espresso, Hazelnut & Orange Stout” were less than enjoyable. Both are marketed as being “Liquid White / Dark Chocolate in a Can”. A nice idea but really not enjoyable as a beer. Unfortunately I couldn’t even finish the dark one and I dont not finish beer that often.

So, a reasonable summary I am sure you will agree. As I right I have progressed a couple of more days into the advent calendar, and on a wee weekend in the mecca of Palmerston North, have sneakily discovered a new brewery who have produced a phenomenal Hazy. Join me, go on..it isn’t too bad is it?

Beervana 2020

Another week another Beer festival! Lucky old NZ and lucky old me. Once again I get to don a hipster cap and doff it toward the multitude of beer and food purveyors adorning the bleak grey concourse of the Wellington Cake Tin, or Sky Stadium as it is less affectionately known.

This was my first Beervana since at least 2013, at which point I had lost some faith in this stalwart festival as it had become a little bit, and I hate to say it, dull. As noted in my opening gambit, the stadium concourse is barren at the best of times so the atmosphere was essentially nil. The beers, well, yeah there were of course crackers but not enough choice, and I felt the ‘big boys’ were starting to get a little bit too much of an influence on what was going on. The food was ok but it never seemed like there was enough, and I also seem to recall that the session time was a mere 4 hours. (I could be wrong on that and would love to be corrected) But regardless I always felt like it was all over in a flash with not any time to just sit back and chill out before heading in again for more tasters.

I was pleasantly surprised to see time of the Saturday afternoon session set at 11am to 4pm, and being positive that the previous years had been only four hours total, I was much more enthused to purchase the ticket. Additionally the sheer number of Breweries was incredible (62!! Yes 62!!) with a decent representation of overseas breweries, which was fantastic in the current times. Plus there were at least 18 food outlets and all for just $45, plus a fee free $30 preload on the AWOP bracelet. Itself a majestic system of payment which really improves the queuing and efficiency! It should have been phenomenal…more on that later.

The first thing that struck me was that the vendors were right around the concourse, whereas in previous years it was limited to perhaps half. This made for a far more spacious event where you didnt have to knock multitudes of elbows and risk spilling the precious beer of strangers. Second, the atmosphere was, well, there was actually an atmosphere. The barren concourse echo was definitely dampened and there was a multitude of live music dotted around at various spots. Coupled with plenty of areas to sit down helped maintain a lovely background chatter and hum! It was very pleasant.

On to the beers. I went in there with no particular plan, other than ignoring the running tally of the ‘Peoples Choice’ in an effort to find my own favourite, ignoring the gimmicks and ‘bigger’ brewers, and just try as many different brews as I could from as many different breweries.

Without much further ado, here are my beers of the day:

  1. Smog City IPA

This beer proved why I love the American IPAs. Everything is bigger in the US and they always seem to produce bigger IPAs! Bigger taste, bigger hops, bigger punch. It was also super clean on the palate. Winner!

In fact, all the American beers camp up Trumps! …see what i did there. The Virginia Brewing Co Analysis Paralysis IPA was spectacular, the Modern Times Black House Coffee Stout was majestic and the Heretic Brewing Juicier than Thou NEIPA was also another punch in the face of juicy goodness. So bizarre, polarising politics aside, they certainly produce magnificent beer.

But us Kiwis are not at all shabby either. My top 3 were as follows:

1 – Duncans Blueberry Ripple Imperial Ice Cream Sour

Following hot on the heels of the unbelievable Tangelo Sour I sampled at Brewday a few weeks prior, the Blueberry Sour was just as magnificent. Not quite as mind blowing but sensational none the less. Sours are very hit and miss for me, but I love the fact they are saying “you want a sour, here is a feckin sour!”. 8.2% of sheer fruity deliciousness. And no spew aftertaste. If you are one of the, perhaps just one avid blog readers then you will know my hatred of the spewy aftertaste.

2 – Behemoth Dumped the Trump Triple IPA – as the tagline says, this beer is the “Triple IPA version of Dump the Trump to celebrate the Dumping of the Cheeto Faced Moron!” Maybe it was the joy at seeing the clown losing the election, but this was another sensational big beer from, in my view the NZ masters of the Hazy. At 9.9% there is clearly no pissing about here. Love it.

3 – 8 Wired Brewing Ace Degenerate West Coast IPA

Excellent! Just solid “regular” IPA goodness.

Whilst I am at it an honourable mention goes to their Kveik Fermented “Once were Vikings” Farmhouse Ale. I’m not a massive Farmhouse Ale fan, I find they can get a little sickly and chewy , but this one begged me to go back for more. I didn’t because I was on a taster run! But it was noted to grab a pint next time I see it.

Lastly , although I said I was going to avoid the gimmicks, I had to try one, so it was off to Garage Project for the “Blue Milk”, an Oat Cream IPA brewed with rolled oats, lactose, hand selected Mosaic and blue spirulina. And it was as the tasting notes suggest – “Close your eyes and it’s a rich, hazy IPA”. It was, it was very lovely indeed. But why the blue?? It certainly stood out visually, which I guess is the point, but I say just let the beer speak for itself.

Lastly, Abandoned Brewery – once again, exceptional work on the stand!

So, myself and my accompanying Aussie pal had a grand old time. Chatting, eating, drinking fine ales, sorting the world out. What a fine day out indeed.

A couple of niggles though. We did only eat one thing, opting for a pulled pork burger from “Salt and Wood

It was absolutely delicious. An impossible amount of pork pouring out from the bun all over the accompaniments. But unfortunately – no forks! Which was utterly bizarre given the nature of the burger. It was essentially impossible to eat without half of it ending up all over your face, and being a gentleman of the hirsute variety, made this a particularly challenging experience. Call me old fashioned but I don’t want to do a Krypton Factor challenge when I’m eating. Us Beer enthusiasts are often juggling a beer map, a full glass and updating Untappd. The food thing should be easy, let us eat like normal people so we can crack on with our day and not have to go for a quick shower after we are done.

My last niggle, and it is a reasonable niggle; the session time is still not nearly long enough. I get that pumping through four sessions in two days will maximise numbers and profit, but I would argue that stretching it out another couple of hours will get the people in there spending more. I would have loved to have sampled many more beers, and would have needed more food to keep up the sustenance levels. Also, they started getting taps shut off after just four and half hours!! Come on people! It felt like it was over before it had really gotten started – again.

So in terms of value for money it doesn’t compare to Brewday , but the beer choice is superior. However if I had to choose one over the other and I could only go to one, Brewday would be the winner. There is still enough beers there to get the bang for your buck, and I am sure that that event will only get bigger. Four or five extra breweries would make this unmissable. So, unless they start spilling out onto the pitch, or change venues Beervana is unfortunately of at capacity, so I think they will have to have a rethink on those session times given the competition. Hell, Beers at the Basin just one week later had a massive amount of Breweries and was eight hours long!! Sounds like a dream world, for which, unfortunately I could not get tickets. 😦 However a guest post is forthcoming offering up their thoughts on the day.

Maybe, Beervana could offer up some differences like some extra seminars or demonstrations like they do at the Food show. Maybe they have an additional cost? Fill out the time, bring in some more coin. Just a thought.

All in all, it was a great afternoon, but as I said, it was over too quickly. I did also have 2 x Juicehead right at the end but I forgot to check them in…<sigh>, as always you get caught up in the mad dash at the end..because it is over too soon and you havent had a chance to try as much as you can!! Anyway, maybe one was the Devils Rain, the other…Damn it! Both were good and I hereby promise to make it up to everybody and try lots of Juicehead until I find the other.

So, Beervana 2021?? Tbh, unless they change it, or give us forking forks, I doubt it.