Posts Tagged ‘Renaissance’

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I love beer!

August 13, 2010

I haven’t written a post in a while – I’ve had some beery ideas but then I get too lazy to bother writing a full post – this is usually after sampling a couple of my latest home brews and wasting time on Facebook. So anyway, here’s a summary of some beer stuff I love.

  • I love vouchers – the perfect birthday present. As a result I now have Pete Brown’s ‘Man Walks Into A Pub’. A while back I got his ‘Three Sheets To The Wind’, which was a great read on global beer culture so I’m looking forward to getting into this one. I also have a spend up at McCashin’s pending thanks to my sister – they’re now making beer and I had a couple of samples of their lager trials last time I visited. Also on the cards is a visit to Founder’s as I recently won their e-newsletter beer quiz. You can sign up for this on their website. It’s their 10th Anniversary and have some celebratory brews coming out. I’ve tried and enjoyed the Blonde, plus a barrel-aged Stout is also now also available.
  • I love all-grain home brewing. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the use of a friend’s all-grain gear for the past few months and popped out five brews – all rather good if I do say so myself. It’s a bit hard to go back to malt kits after that so I’m investing in my own gear which should be up and running soon. Just in time for the SOBA 2010 Homebrewing Competition, which begs the question is – is the World ready for Wrecking Ball Pale Ale or Pacific Gem Golden Ale?
  • I love local beer. I don’t buy that liberal, middle-class guilt that buying local is the solution to the World’s social and environmental problems but I’m quite happy to celebrate good quality, local beer. For the past month, the Moutere Inn and the Free House have had only local beers on tap as part of the Nelson Ecofest Challenge. While it might be a dubious decision to allow in riff-raff from Marlborough, I’m prepared to be flexible considering the calibre of beers coming out of the Renaissance Brewery. I managed a trip over there recently and had a great hand-pumped Elemental Porter and some delicious pizza from the Dodson Street Bistro. Last night, I picked up a bottle of the 2010 batch of 8 Wired’s Hopwired (contract brewed at Renaissance) and am prepared to say that this is the best beer I’ve ever had (yes, it’s true)! I was a bit apprehensive as the bottle I picked up last year didn’t compare to the freshness of the pint I had from the pub. However, it’s hot off the bottling line and just as good at the moment – I just can’t get enough of the amazing Nelson Sauvin and Motueka hops. Brewer Søren reports that this year’s crop of NZ hops are a little different from last year’s and I picked up similarities to the 2010 Sauvin flowers I’ve used in my home brew. The Moutere Inn and Townshend Brewery are also holding an IPA challenge on 19th August featuring three versions of Townshend’s JCIPA on hand pump- the favourite one will go on to be brewed as a springtime release.
  • I love contract brewing. Hopwired is proof of the great things NZ’s contract brewers can achieve and Yeastie Boys discuss this successful business model further here on their blog. Of course, Yeastie Boys have been up to great things themselves lately – their ‘Return to Magenta’ Belgian Pale Ale impressed me greatly – it doesn’t get much better than enjoying a pint of this on a clear and warm autumn day, sitting outdoors at the Moutere Inn while taking a day off work. There was also the battle of the NZ and US pale ales – Motueka Monster vs Yakima Monster. Eric at Offsetting Behaviour puts an economic spin on the discussion here. I like the idea of micro economics, as in micro-brewing far more than Alan Bolland and his weapons of macro destruction!

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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):

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Vote Beer

May 20, 2010

I was looking on the Treasury website this afternoon for Budget 2010 documents and came across the appropriation for Vote Racing. After my initial thoughts of ‘why the hell are we spending public money propping up the Racing industry?’ I had the brilliant idea – why not also steal use some public money for Beer!?! Naturally, I would become Minister of Beer and this would be my 2010 appropriation for Vote Beer:

  • $250,000 for research project into viability of nuclear-powered, chilled tanker to ship cheap and fresh Budvar from the Czech Republic to New Zealand.
  • $10,000 to lock up Doug Sellman and other Healthists in a beige room and be fed nothing but strained peas to a soundtrack of Enya as suggested by Eric at Offsetting Behaviour.
  • $20 to implement new excise rate on all alcohol of $0.00 per Litre.
  • $50,000 for Social Networking initiatives to promote Epic beer.
  • $2,000,000 for compulsory Home Brewing courses at all Tertiary Institutions.
  • $700,000 to promote voluntary malt quota of 100% amongst mainstream brewers. Catch phrases include: ‘All Malt: Yeah Right’; ‘Less Advertising , More Malt’.
  • $1,000 for all-grain Home Brew set-up for the Minister of Beer.

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MARCHFeST 2010

April 20, 2010

[UPDATED]

Well, this blog is almost a year old so it’s time to end four months of no blogging due to laziness and get things going again.

Saturday was Marchfest here in Nelson and you’ll probably have guessed by now that it’s not actually in March anymore. Aprilfest just doesn’t have the same ring to it does it? I imagine this is better timing for the brewers to prepare their harvest beers but means a bit less sunlight for the punters.

Let me state first up that I had a great time at the festival but I was a little disappointed in comparison to last years event. The addition of brewers talks and cider and beer making demonstrations this year was great, even though I ended up missing them all due to beer drinking commitments. This year the main venue was in the large field at Founder’s Park rather than in the ‘Energy Centre’ and surrounds, which didn’t seem to work at well though the view of the Park and wider region was great. This centered around a giant tent with the music at times crowding out conversation even outside. Last year you could sit inside the energy centre where the beer was being served and get down to the serious matter of beer drinking without the distraction of music! The queues were massive at times and dominated the inside of the tent and the free movement of punters. Perhaps a separate area to buy drink tokens or separate lines for each beer would help? There was some good outside lawn with picnic seats but access to these was restricted by the railway, food carts or the tent. It’s the small things and maybe I’m getting too fussy about service but these issues are easily solved and you expect a certain level of service for your entry fee.

This was the other problem with 2010 – the ticket price has increased; it didn’t include a first drink + the half pint serving size increased from $5 to $6. Inflation rises are inevitable at some stage and obviously keeping the beer prices in whole dollars is easier to deal with, but when you take the full increases over the night into account that is about $20 extra compared to 2009 for what didn’t feel like any extra value – far more than inflation. I imagine the huge tent and Don McGlashan bulked up the costs this year and as you can probably tell by now, I’m happy to keep things basic – I’m there for the beer after all.

Anyway on to important things – the beers, which featured 10 new brews from Top of the South craft brewers.

Sprig and Fern: De-Vine Inspiration: A kiwi pilsner with Riwaka hops. Stangely enough it tasted just like Emerson’s Pislner! Love that buttery NZ pils taste.

Moa: Blanc Resurrection: A Belgian Wit. This was quite unusual and complex. Clear with a nice wheat background + hops. Some phenolic funk character.

Townshend: Roger Parks IPA: Nicely sweet and intense – malt driven but balanced with some nice hops. One of my favourites of the night.

Totara: Ninkasi Green: Green hopped, amber / IPA-ish. Nice enough but finished far too short on both the malt and hops.

The Mussel Inn: Missing Linx: Marzenbier? Definitely an NZ interpretation. Complex with some nice smoked malt and Manukasimilar to a lighter Captain Cooker at the end of the day.

Lighthouse: April Fuel: Nice enough amber ale. That’s about all I scribbled.

Founder’s: God Knows Best Bitter: Pretty similar to Mac’s Sassy Red – a bit less sweet and smokyer. Nice.

Renaissance: Funkelryesen: Spiced Rye beer. Unusual and complex – lots of floral liquorice notes. Big points for using Southern Cross hops and mentioning these in the tasting notes!

Golden Bear: Liquifaction: Golden Bear seem to excel at strong beers and this was the business. Stunningly rich and smooth with NZ hops plus some Styrian Goldings coming through with a British punch at the end.

Monkey Wizard: Golgotha Porter: Sweetish Porter, not much complexity in the malt but it does take a rather good dark beer to impress me.

A final whinge before I go – if you’re a food stand at a beer fest serving curry, make sure you have enough rice cooked for the night and if you serving German small goods, have all your products grilled and ready to go!

Update – Marchfest organiser Mic Dover responds:

FYI the Marchfest ticket price has been $25 in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and no Marchfests have ever featured a free 1st drink. You are getting confused with Nelson Beer Fetes which are small events with low overheads.

A small minority of people constantly make this mistake so we are looking at how we market the events differently in future to avoid the confusion.

BTW The increase from $5 to $6 per drink is the first price rise in 3 years.
Cheers, Mic

My reply: Thanks for your response Mic – my recollection is that the early bird price was $15 in 2009 and $20 in 2010. After purchasing my early bird ticket last year I won an entry pack – this included a free drink ticket. I thought this was part of the general entry as the drink tickets were in the glasses at the door but perhaps these were just for prize winners / VIP’s etc. As I said, it’s inevitable that beer prices rise and I’m sure that the decision wasn’t made lightly – I was probably just expecting that the prices would remain the same as those at pubs considering the rate at which you’d turn over a keg but then I don’t know much about the economics of running a beer festival. I hope my comments don’t take away from what is essentially, an excellent beer event.

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Pale Ale über alles

July 31, 2009

It’s my Birthday and what better way to enjoy such as occasion than road test two new NZ Pale Ales.

First up was Green Man’s IPA, a new addition to their permanent line up. Worth buying for the label alone – it looks like the Jolly Green Giant took a stash of Andy Warhol’s acid and ended up on the set of the Brady Bunch. The beer itself is quite light is colour and therefore, the malts are quite restrained. There is a nice, assertive hop bitterness and the beer is quite quaffable, though lacking the rich malts that I really appreciate in a pale ale.

Next up was Renaissance’s Marlborough Pale Ale – an 8.5% Imperial India Pale Ale showcasing of the new Rakau variety of hops. What an absolutely amazing beer this is – the hops are stunning, full of sweet tropical fruit flavours. Like all great beers, there are tastes that you recognise but can’t quite pin down – maybe some Juicy Fruit chewing gum. These hold nicely against the well balanced sweet pale malts and robust alcohol content.

To be fair to the Green Man IPA, there is a large differential in both price and alcohol content between these two beers – so it is understandable that these are two quite different products.

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Inspired by Pale Ale battles in other parts of the country – tomorrow night is the Nelson Pale Ale battle featuring my latest two home brews:

wreckinghop

Vs

Sauvinator2

It’s still cold so I recommend you get jerseys like these: