Posts Tagged ‘Wheat beer’

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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.

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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)

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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.