Posts Tagged ‘Mac’s’

h1

Black is the new Black

June 18, 2010

It’s winter and a stereotype might suggest that this is the perfect time for dark beers. Of course dark beers can be perfect any time of the year but there’s certainly an element of truth that they become very appealing at this time of year along with rich, warming food.

Early in my beer drinking career I was a big fan of dark beers such as Monteith’s Dark and Black Mac but then as my interest in beer grew, my taste for dark styles waned. It’s only now that I’m getting back into dark beers and my tastes are quite particular.

Stout in my mind is highly overrated, in particular a certain well-known brew from Ireland. I will grant you that the Pogues and Jameson Whiskey are two of the very best things in this World, but Guinness – please!?! This was a beer that originally used Roasted Barley simply because it had less tax applied to it than malted grain – a cheap adjunct in the same way we beer snobs now think of rice or corn. On the other hand, Stout’s cousin Porter can be amazing. And then there is Dunkelwiezen – proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy if ever I saw it.

My top dark beer recommendations to get you through winter are as follows (some liberty taken as to the darkness of beer):

Renaissance Stonecutter: Anyone who knows me or reads this blog is probably well aware by now that I worship at the Stonecutter altar. This Scotch ale is truly one of the finest beers in this World with its dense layers of rich mahogany and a touch of smoke. Perfect winter nightcap beside a roaring fire (or heat pump).

Invercargill Brewery Pitchblack: Even though I just had a go at Stout, this one is enough to change my opinion. Dark, full-bodied, slightly sweet and displaying just the right amount of that delicious dark malt character, this is an extraordinarily good beer. Nothing at all to fault here.

Three Boys Porter: I haven’t had one of these this year but have fond memories of a couple of pints of from 2009. A very drinkable beer that makes you sit up and think – ‘damn, that’s a good beer, I think I’ll get another!’

Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black: Dark beers are all about the malt – or are they? Pot Kettle Black is for the hop loving, dark beer connoisseur. Call it an American Porter, call it a Black IPA, call it whatever, this beer will change your perceptions about dark beer.

Townshend Old House ESB: A local favourite of mine, the complex flavours of this estery English ale include fudge and cidery fruit – perfect for a quiet night at home by the fire.

Chimay Grand Reserve (Blue): A bit like Champagne for the beer World, a 750ml bottle of Chimay Blue is going to make you feel special during those cold winter months. A bit like drinking spritzy, liquid cinnamon. Proof that beer brings happiness as if you needed it.

Mac’s Sassy Red: Every beer lover without a gold-plated pay packet and family to support needs a good domestic beer to tide them over. For me, this is Mac’s Sassy Red. I wasn’t always a fan – every second one was good but now I’m a total convert to the deliciously fresh, waxy, nutty malt character and spicy NZ hops. Proof that Mac’s can still deliver the goods.

Schneider Weisse Aventinus: Incredibly rich and luxurious, a perfect display of what a combination of wheat yeast and sweet, dark malts can achieve.

Which reminds me, NZ craft brewers need to release more dark wheat beers! And consider more sessionable examples around 5% abv without the hot alcohol flavours that make my tongue itch. I’ve even had a go at this at home (astute readers with an interest in 90’s ‘grunge’ music may even recognise the album I ripped-off this concept for my beer label from):

>

>

>

h1

Mac’s goes full circle

November 28, 2009

In disappointing news this week, Lion have announced that they will be closing the Mac’s Shed 22 brewery on the Wellington waterfront (Press releases here and here). The brewery has apparently served its purpose in allowing Mac’s to still be marketed as craft beer and is now costing too much – I guess it’s what you expect when an iconic craft brand is purchased by one of the big breweries. Anyway, can you please stop all the ‘crafty’ marketing and definitely stop calling Mac’s Gold ‘all malt’ when it now appears to be watered down with sugar – that’s false advertising! The Mac’s brand and beers have done a lot for beer culture in NZ and in many way it’s great that they have taken things to the masses but for me it’s probably now moved too far away from what I found appealing in the first place.

In far more positive news – The McCashin’s who started Mac’s but sold the brand to Lion in 1999 are back up and running in the original Stoke brewery which they maintained ownership of (see this Nelson Mail article for more info). The brewery was originally the Rochdale cider plant and this is now back in production and one of several beverages being produced. The brewery shop is now open and I popped in today to check it out – while no beer is yet being produced (beer is listed on their website so watch this space), you can fill your own riggers of locally brewed Founder’s or Golden Bear selections, as well as Rochdale Cider. I picked up Golden Bear’s Best Bitter which was rather tasty.

I was also given a sample of a new beverage called Fruté, which is cider mixed with real fruit. This isn’t something I’d usually be into but it’s very nice and possibly way too easy to drink on a hot day (though the tartness from the cider kicks in at the end). I not very good with obligation-free samples so I had to purchase some. Other products include the recently purchased 26000 Vodka (flashy website but bloody frustrating and not particularly useful) and Palaeo water. It’s really good to see the brewery up and running again and I wish them all the best.

If you’re in Nelson don’t forget next weeks Beer Fête – Saturday 5th Dec, 5 – 10.30pm. The list of participating breweries is here and the Dead Good Beer Events website is here.

 

Today’s clip is nearly 7 minutes long and isn’t even a proper video but it’s too bad because this is one of the best songs ever:

h1

I see a darkness

July 8, 2009

In case you didn’t notice it’s now the middle of winter (though I have to admit the last two days in Nelson have been pretty perfect) and that of course means – dark beer!

This weekend the Moutere Inn are holding ‘The Dark Side’ – a dark and winter beer showcase. This will of course bring up the common problem I experience in pubs these days – which beers to choose? On tap will be:

  • Emerson’s Brewers Reserve
  • Emerson’s London Porter
  • Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black
  • Three Boys Oyster Stout
  • Harrington’s Wintertide
  • Moa’s Winter Ale
  • Green Man Strong
  • Plus local regulars – Townshend’s No. 9 Stout and ESB (a personal favourite) on hand pump.

Think I’ll have to try the slightly infamous Pot Kettle Black (hoppy and dark) and Oyster Stout (with real Bluff Oysters).

Another winter treat just out is Mac’s Solstice Winter Beer which I managed to sample this evening at The Vic Brewbar.

The appealing label is matched by an equaling appealing brew from a mixture of Pale, Vienna, caramalt, Dark Crystal and Chocolate malts resulting in a rich, nutty, aroma and taste with hints of Chocolate. Balancing this nicely is spice and bitterness from a mix of Southern Cross and Fuggles hops, plus something extra special in the form of the peppery native plant – Horopito. A fine, well balanced ale perfect for winter.

h1

My first Lager

June 10, 2009

Now that winter has turned my abode into an ice cave, it’s the perfect time to try my hand at home brewing a true Lager. The first step was to purchase a glass carboy for secondary fermentation which will allow the beer to cold condition over several weeks without introducing oxygen. These aren’t cheap with the current exchange rate but I figured it would be a good investment to improve all my beers through secondary conditioning and dry-hopping.

After lots of reading on Lagering, I settled on a plan that would utilise the temperature around the house rather than a temp-controlled fridge which I don’t currently possess. The plan was to initiate and undertake primary fermentation around 10 degrees (spare room), increase to around 20 degrees for a 48 hour diacetyl rest once primary is complete (hot-water cupboard), then transfer to the carboy and lager at around 4 degrees for several weeks (icy water bucket).

I also decided to do a 11.5L half-batch in case things don’t work out. Experimenting is great but hasn’t been entirely successful lately – the sleepout cupboard is full of dodgy wheat-beer and pale ale. The latest is a batch of mouth-puckering, bitter pale ale thanks to my over-zealous addition of too many Super-alpha hops.

The malt-kit I selected is Mac’s 1.7Kg ‘Late-hopped Lager’. I tried this a few times several years ago in my first home brew phase. The taste was pretty good but I had some over-carbonation problems, including a couple of exploded bottles when I arrived home after a few pints on the town one evening. It wasn’t until a few years later that I tried brewing again. I figured with increased knowledge and different yeast, I could avoid the bottle grenades.

For my yeast I used the dry S-23 strain as it’s readily available and seemed like a good place to begin. There’s some debate over dry yeast being capable of true bottom-fermenting lager brewing but this variety has reasonable reviews. I made a yeast starter the day before brewing to ensure an adequate pitching rate at low temperature.

The kit goes on about how greatly hopped it is but by my definition, it’s probably pretty tame so I added some Super-alpha and Nelson Sauvin for bittering; Motueka, Pacifica and Nelson Sauvin for flavour / aroma and will be adding these 3 varieties again into the secondary for dry-hopping. I don’t have a wort chiller so the hops were boiled in water, cooled and then added with the malt and cold water into the primary fermenter to quickly reach a low temperate before pitching the yeast starter.

I was a bit nervous but things started bubbling after about 16 hours. Now it’s time to sit back and wait. Hopefully I’ll be enjoying my first crisp lager around spring-time.