Posts Tagged ‘Beer review’


The wall of beer

July 10, 2009

Nelson, far from being a regional backwater is filled to the brim with all kinds of great beer – the only problem being, which beer to choose? In no place is the problem more acute than at the wall of beer at Fresh Choice, Collingwood St – conveniently located just round the block from work. Many a lunchtime and Friday evening have I spent at the wall, eyeballing all sorts of delicious looking bottles – the English Ales, the Belgians and just about every NZ craft beer known to man. Fresh Choice also do a beer tasting every Friday at 4pm, though unfortunately, I’m usually otherwise occupied with a little diversion called work.


One solution I like is to simply to buy more beer. I’ve had a hop craving all day and so tonight, Pale Ale was always going to be on the menu. I went for the Dux Le Lux Nor’wester which I developed quite a taste for on my last trip to Christchurch. This is the first beer of theirs that I’ve tried in the bottle after many glasses on location in the Garden City. I’d have to favour beer fresh from keg but this was still an enjoyable brew despite the lack of foam – rich and dark, the strong 6.5% abv is certainly evident. There’s a full malty sweetness upfront, followed by an enjoyable hop bitterness. This beer is mainly about the malt and the caramel/toffee biscuit finish completes this beer as a fine example of a New Zealand Pale Ale.

Few things in life could be more luxurious than Dunkel Weiss or dark wheat beer. After trying Emerson’s example a few weeks ago, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try Green Man’s new Choc Krystal Weiss. This is obviously an entrant in Wellington’s Beervanva coming up in August as this is advertised on the cap. Like Emerson’s, I assume the same yeast as their regular Hefe Weizen offering has been employed in this beer – therefore comparisons can be drawn. And while Emerson’s was a fine conventional example, Green Man – like some of their other beers – is somewhat off-the-beaten-track.

The aroma is chocolate-chip muffins, spice and then unusually, a whiff of olive brine! The beer pours with a lovely creamy head. I wasn’t quite sure if this beer was filtered as the name suggests and thought I spotted some yeast in the bottom of the bottle which I swished with the remaining beer and poured into my glass. If there was indeed yeast it was minimal. For the taste there is certainly banana but what sets this beer apart is the restrained sweetness – standing out is an enjoyable chocolaty dryness, plus a slightly tart savoury finish. And yes, that unusual seawater/olive brine aroma is also evident in the taste.

I’m not sure what the Beervana judges will make of this – probably imperfect by the manual but I found this to be a unique and enjoyable  beer, plus it challenged my previous perceptions of dark wheat beer.

Call the craft beer movement a bunch of sandal and beard wearing boffins, but I had to laugh at this Victoria Bitter ad:

Update: By way of comparison, I just saw this terrible 33 Export ad on TV:

(almost as bad as the Air NZ Bare Essentials safety video with the naked, toupee-wearing flight attendant)


Beer Review: Townshend Old House ESB

May 15, 2009

Well, it’s Friday night and I’ve had a Pilsner craving all day (the taste, not the alcohol in case you were wondering). I was looking forward to a fresh NZ example with tasty crystal malt and lots of tasty, smelly hops but decided to take advice from this article in the Marlborough Express (no by-line) and pick up a can of Radeberger Pilsner. Tasted a bit watery at first but as I worked my way through it, I was very satisfied.

Anyway, onto the Old House ESB from Rosedale’s Townshend Brewery (inland from Motueka).

Style: Extra Special Bitter, 5% abv, 500ml bottle

Traditionally I haven’t been much of a connoisseur of British real ales (something about not living in England) so it’s great that Townshend have focused on this style and it is served in the traditional way in two local pubs – the Freehouse and the Moutere Inn. I first tried this a few weeks ago off beer engine / hand pump at the Free House and was blown away. So naturally when I saw it in the bottle at the local Supermarket (the range is pretty much on permanent discount at Fresh Choice Nelson) I had to get one.

The aroma from the bottle was fruity vinegar and then almost mushroom like when pouring into my pint glass – I was starting to worry a bit – however, the first taste was amazing (definitely nothing wrong with brew). The taste is sweet malt – the comparison that came to mind was that fudge slice yo momma used to make from malt biscuits, butter, sultanas and chocolate icing, and in this case she also dropped in her stash of bubblegum. This beer is all about the quaffable smooth malt but there is also a nice balance of bitterness. The aroma remains slightly vinegary – as in a fruit chutney with a touch of smelly socks someone wore on their armpits thrown in (I promise to tone down my future reviews).

If I gave beer scores this would be 10/10. Not sure how widely available this is but you must try it – now!

What Friday night review of an English ale by Townshend Brewery would be complete with without a song by The Who:


Beer review: Schneider Weisse (Original)

May 13, 2009

There’s not a great deal of European wheat beers readily available in NZ, so it’s great to see that Fresh Choice Nelson are now offering two beers from Germany’s Schneider Weisse – Original and Aventinus (more about this one in another review).

Style: Bavarian Hefe Weizen, 5.4% abv, 500ml bottle

I finally got round to sampling Original tonight and have to say I wasn’t hugely impressed – though I’ve found enjoying a wheat beer can very much depend on your mood, the weather, accompanying food etc on that particular day. The beer is a rich copper colour – darker than most hefe weizens and this is perhaps why the beer tasted more conventional – the esters not coming through as strongly as I expected. The classic banana and clove flavours were certainly there and enhanced by food, though the balance was more toward the tart citrus flavours than other hefe weizens I’ve tried – maybe I’m just a sweet tooth. The beer poured very effervescent and resulted in a thin, very creamy head. Aroma was estery but restrained.

If you visit the Brewery’s website linked above (change language into English bottom left) you’ll see that this beer has a cult following in Germany – with at least 50 fan clubs dedicated to Schneider Weisse! Other things of interest on this extensive site include a wheat beer lexicon and a pictorial of how to pour the perfect weisse.

The brewery dates from 1855 when Georg Schneider leased the royal ‘Weisse Brauhuas’ Hofbräuhaus. In 1872 he purchased wheat beer brewing rights from the Bavarian royal family. Previously wheat beer had only been brewed and consumed by the aristocracy and enjoyed new popularity, despite the spread of lager brewing. New breweries were opened in Munich and Kelheim – with the Munich site being destroyed during the war. Primary fermentation still takes place in open vats (sources: Roger Protz ‘Classic Bottled Beers of the World’ + the Schneider Weisse website).


2 line beer reviews

May 8, 2009

Now that Twit-er has shortened everyone’s attention span it’s acceptable to write in the minimalist style, which suits me well because I’m lazy.

Went to the Free House tonight and had the best beer of all – free beer. So here’s the quick reviews:

Tuatara Hefe: Aroma and taste – banana chips, yum. Spend ages trying to liken the aftertaste of a Hefeweizen to something, still none the wiser.

Emerson’s Pilsner: Front runner for NZ’s best beer. Amazing hops. Taste likes Marmalade after eating a Dolmade.

Founder’s Fat Lip: brewed for Marchfest. Not sure it’s it’s widely available. Damn, what a great beer – best Founder’s brew I’ve tried. Rich maltly taste like Ryvita crispbreads, balanced perfectly against fresh and tasty Nelson hops.

All great beers – it’s a hard life.


Beer Review: Wigram Hefe Weizen

May 4, 2009

Did I ever tell you about my obsession with Wheat beer? Well, this is my latest tasting – not exactly renowned as a beer suitable for a chilly autumn evening but who cares? The availability of international examples is somewhat limited in NZ and it thankfully the mainsteam breweries haven’t yet offered some cheap, second rate, domestic version (though the purest might suggest that Mac’s Great White fulfils this role, I quite like it).

Despite this, interest in wheat beer is growing and a  large number of NZ craft brewers having at least one wheat beer in their line up. This example is from  Wigram Brewing Co in Christchurch.

Style: Bavarian Hefe Weizen, 5% abv, 500ml bottle

I’ve tried several NZ craft examples of wheat beer now and I think so far this is my favourite. Several examples I’ve tried are somewhat removed from traditional international examples but this one certainly approached a typical Hefe Weizen style. Light straw in colour (my example was lighter than the picture) the beer was a good balance of sweet banana and clove flavours with an underlying lager malt base. The beer poured with minimal effervescence but ended up with a good head after the residual yeast and beer was shaken and poured from the bottle. Highly drinkable, it was disappointing to reach the end of the glass.

I’ve heard good things about Wigram beers and am looking forward to trying their other styles which include Dark, Dunkel, Bitter, Pilsener, Lager, a Honey Ale, and a Spruce beer based on Captain Cook’s first NZ beer.