Back to the Beer!

Earth friendly beer cup on hairy face!

It has been some time since I posted last! And as we all know a lot has happened in that time. The world has been thrown into unbelievable chaos due to Covid-19 and it doesn’t look like going away any time soon. Little ol’ NZ entered a 4 week lockdown back in March but came out of that quite well. Then we suffered a little bit of an outbreak but avoided a full on 2nd wave by once again managing it properly and now seem to be in a pretty good position with currently (and knocking on a Tãne Mahuta sized piece of wood here) no community spread, with every day life sitting at a good degree of normal.

Seeing the UK seemingly hurtling toward another lockdown is just so surreal and also saddening. I really do feel for my family and friends back home and have never felt luckier to live so remotely from the rest of the world.

But, without this turning into another Covid-19 post about lockdowns and beer, let me succinctly wrap that side up. I drank plenty of great beers during the lockdown and thereafter but didn’t feel particularly inspired to write about it.

However, I feel like I have found a bit of my mojo again thanks to a quite magnificent couple of days spent with great friends here in Wellington. Firstly, myself and the aforementioned friends played in our very first gig with our Ceilidh Band “Craic N Ceilidh” at a Whisky Tasting night, followed by a few celebratory ales. The next day they very kindly invited me to brew some beer with them at The Occasional Brewer, which was awesome fun. Was good to use a fully set up Mash Tun / Kettle system and under expert guidance of the OB’s staff. I certainly learned a lot for if I ever delve back into my own home brew. And we kind of celebrated that by heading up to Garage Project to spend a voucher then “have dinner” at Hey Day! Incidentally the Hey Day Echo and Maiden Mercury NEIPAs are both magnificently quaffable alongside their ever delicious fried chicken. And yes..that photo of a Coffee you see below is actually an unbelievable Garage Project Coffee Stout beer served with a Chocolate Brownie. Delicious!

But the main event of the weekend was the much anticipated Brewday, held at Brewtown, Upper Hutt. A bit of a trek for us Central Wellington’ites especially when there were no trains due to maintenance, but the taxi trek was more than worth it. It was a bit grim to begin as Wellington served up another of its classic days of howling wind and rain, and having to queue outdoors to get in was not the perfect start to proceedings.

Once we were under cover though, and began to revel in the simply excellent amount of beer, cider, food and entertainment on offer, all thoughts of the misery outside was long forgotten…until we had to trek to the toilets…but a little on that later.

The Highs

Firstly, the space was great fitting in over 30 Beverage and 10 or so food vendors, plus a Barbers! I bought some beard oil, which I didnt really need but it smelled great. The drinks on offer were mainly Breweries, but there also a few Wine, Cider and Spirit offerings. There was certainly enough to please even the most ardent non beer drinker.

There was a mutlitude of musical acts playing through the day, which ensured a happy vibe through the day. However the main stage acts were particularly bass heavy so you couldnt really hear them clearly, and unfortunately they were also a shade on the loud side meaning conversation was a little hard in the main room.

Now, the place was heaving! I cant even really estimate how many there were but it didnt seem to let up from the minute it opened to the very end. It seemed from the initial queue that it was going to be chaos, however the space inside was pretty much spot on. In certain spots elbows were certainly being bumped but you never found yourselves stuck in a bottleneck. Plus there were plenty of seats scattered about , more so nearer the entrance should you have felt the need for a sit down.

I must also applaud the time allowed for the event. 11am until 6pm is exceptionally generous for events of this nature making the $45 price of a standard ticket exceptional value for money. (take note Beervana!) I opted for a $75 ticket which included a $30 credit on the Cashless Wristband used for purchasing at any vendor, which again worked seamlessly. You just topped up at the booth when you got low and away you went. Even better you didnt have to drink your way through the entire value as they offered up refunds either in cash or online! Genius.

The tasters were generally $2 or $3 and servings were generous. The full pours ranged from about $6 to $8 , maybe more depending on the beer. I think I paced myself well by sticking to tasters for much of the day in order to sample as many new beers as possible.

I cant speak for most of the food vendors as I only ate from one, but Scottys Meats Martinborough, take a bow! Served perfectly rare with bacon, egg, and a tangy beetroot chutney, your Venison Burger might just be one of the best burgers I have ever eaten. The “Great White”Pork Sausage on a stick wasnt half bad either.

And so, the Main Event! The Beers! Oh the beers. How I have missed the amazing festival selections which leave me flummoxed as to what to try next. So what tickled my fancy and did any leave a sour taste?

The Bestest Beers

According to my Untappd check ins, I quaffed 23 ales during the course of the day. Most were tasters so at leaving time I certainly felt merry, but certainly not in a munted state. In fact I must applaud the festival goers for the overall atmosphere on the day. I certainly didnt witness any sort of bad behaviour or see anyone getting chucked out or even cut off. It was friendly and fun all day, which was probably aided by about half the punters opting in to the Halloween / Oktoberfest fancy dress option and it certainly made for a very mixed and eclectic crowd.

Anyway, here are my top 5 of the day, two of which were stand outs.

5 – Waitoa Mosaniac Single Hopped IPA

I was quite surprised by this little fella! It was near the end of the day and I had run out of beers I studiously ticked off as ‘must tries’ before the day began. Despite not being overly excited by their ‘Pineapple Lump’ Porter earlier I gave this a go and found it very pleasing. Usually the last beers on a day like this all begin to taste the same but this full flavoured IPA stood out on its own.

4 – The Macleods 802 #28 Unfiltered NEIPA

This was my first beer of the day and I clearly started on a high. I love Macleods Hazies and this one was excellent. Full bodies, fresh, fruity and awesome.

3 – Garage Project Fresh NEIPA October 2020

I’m such an IPA fiend..but, it is so hard to not love these! Garage Project are turning out some exeptional monthly specials and this one was phenomenal. I’m only disappointed it is now November and there is more of this one 😦

2 – Choice Brothers Puppet Dancer Nectarine Infused Hazy XPA

I thought this was spectacular. It promised to be a juice bomb and it delivered 100%. I have tried the original Puppet Dancer but the nectarine infusion took this up a level. I note there is a Pineapple version too which I am eager to get a hold of!

1 – Duncans Brewing Tangelo Ripple Ice Cream Sour

I like a sour! I’m not mad for them as I’m not in to that slightly sickly, spewy aftertaste that is prevalent in so many. But I will always give them a go as now and again one will come along, stick its head up and say “LOOK AT ME I’M AWESOME”. This was hands down the beer of the day. The Tangelo Ripple includes Tangelo, blood orange, and ruby red grapefruit and the addition of lactose gave this a real ice creamy finish. It was phenomenal and an easy 5 out 5.

I don’t think there were any beers that stood out as particularly bad..I certainly didn’t spit any out. But there were many that were very close to hitting that top 5.

Before I forget though, well done Abandoned Brewery. Coolest display stand of the day! You also complemented my hat so there is that.

The Lows:

To be fair, I thought the entire day was excellent. The only slight downside was the fact the toilets were located outside, and coupled with the poor weather turned the surrounding grass into a mud pit. My shoes are still sitting on a mat looking very sorry themselves waiting to have the caked mud all over them cleaned off..meh, maybe leave them until next year.

So, that wraps up my take on Brewday 2020, and I am willing to hang my room polarising, coffee sack cheesecutter on this next statement; this was the best Beer Festival I have yet been too. It will be very interesting to compare and contrast with Beervana in a few weeks time.

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!

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 Früchte 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.