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…..

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.