Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Auckland Trip Part 2: Hallertau Hop Harvest Festival

And the saying goes ‘if it didn’t rain it wasn’t Auckland’ and damn did it rain! On the morning ofthe hop harvest festival Auckland managed to unleash its own awful brand of … some would say weather others would call it a an expression of Gods dislike. High temperatures, high humidity and heavy subtropical rain made for a damp mission to get breakfast before meeting Alex and Greig at Galbraith’s for lunch. The weather started to improve somewhat as we set out for Hallertau Brewbar.

The Pub

A modern outfit loosely modelled on the American brewpub model, Hallertau is situated well out of Auckland in the rural hinterland. An eclectic range of beers are served straight from conditioning tanks. It was clear from the outset that Hallertau wasn’t going to push all my buttons. The range of beers has something of a German emphasis (no surprise considering the name!) with the regular brews including a Kolsh, a Schwartz beer, a Celtic Red and an APA. The ambience of the place is marked by modern café style sparseness.

For the festival there was what was called a marzen on offer, although it didn’t bear much resemblance to the malt accented beers of the October Fest it was a fantastic lager brewed with experimental New Zealand Hops. There also was meant to be an Ompah band however thankfully that had been cancelled due to the rain.

We arrived before the festival had started to find a scattering of patrons throughout the bar, slowly a crowd gathered as more people realised the weather was easing.

The Beer

Apart from the APA which was having clarity issues and the Marzen which was good but not a Marzen, the beers were all pretty solid examples of the styles. The problem was that these are styles I struggle to get inspired about, and certainly ones I wouldn’t want to drink much of. I soon decided it was time to try the Bath Ales beers from the cabinet, the Barnstormer was an English dark ale full of chunky toffee and chocolate malt character. It was clean with only a hint of oxidation to mark the long trail it had traversed. The Wild Hare on the other hand unfortunately sang its battle wounds out loud and was harsh and oxidised, so much so that I plucked some live hops from the bine above my table and green hopped my glass to improve the situation.

So far so good but what to drink now? I confess I was starting to think a return to Galbraith’s would be the best move until someone brought a glass of Perry.

Hallertau brew there own Perry a drink rare in the UK and unheard of here. I had never tasted Perry before but have a huge soft spot for cider. It was awesome, fresh, complex and infinitely refreshing: I knew I had a reason to return to Hallertau.

As we left to return to Galbraith’s for dinner and a good night pint Stephan Plougthman the brewer approached us with something special. Sometime ago he acquired a bunch of wine barrels that had become infected with brettanomyces. Rather than see them trotted of to garden centres to become planters he filled them with porter and waited to see what would happen. The beer was absolutely fantastic, the aroma was like Orval but with some dark malt character. Full of roses lime essence and slightly decayed citrus. Unlike Orval the porter was full in the mouth with malt weight and hints of chocolate and dark
grain vying with the dry brett character. Fantastic


While Hallertau is not really the sort of establishment that appeals to my tastes it certainly is worth checking out, I will return at some point, perhaps when the recreation of the winning Doppelbock from the SOBA nationals is first tapped.

Finally a huge thank you to Alex for driving us drunken boys around you are a legend and to Barry from Preston, there are no sparklers in heaven.


Anonymous said...

That Porter sounds very interesting all credit to Stephan for having the vision / balls to take a chance on what others would have termed duff kit.

Re: the Perry there are usually one or two on at beer festivals but if you want them at any other time you've really got to look for them. That said they're really refreshing and well worth the extra effort.

Boak said...

Love a bit of proper perry.