Posts Tagged ‘Townshend’

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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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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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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.

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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: