Tuesday, January 4, 2011

CT Column 5/01/11 : The Crystal Ball

At the end of each year beer writers like to reflect on the year that has been and wax lyrical about the beers that have excited them through the months: I did that back in December. Now that it’s January and the New Year headaches have eased I thought perhaps it would be worth writing a little about the year to come. In the interests of transparency I should add that I actually asked NZ craft brewers what they would be doing over the next year and I don’t in fact own a crystal ball!

Many of the brewers I talked to were incredibly loose lipped, far more so than I expected them to be. So in many ways you can view this first column of the year as a gossip column for Kiwi Craft Brewing!

First up Wellington based Yeastie Boys have some big things on the agenda this year. The most exciting is the establishment of a second permanent bottled beer to sit on the shelves next to Pot Kettle Black. Last year I was privileged to taste a test batch of what will be called Rex Attitude and it absolutely blew me away. Brewed against all brewing advice with 100% peated Islay distilling malt of the sort used to make single malt whiskey, most brewers will tell you that 15% should be an absolute maximum, fruity New Zealand hops and an American yeast strain ,its one of the most beguilingly complex yet approachable smoked beers I have ever had. There will definitely be a column devoted to this beer when it gets released.

Across the Cook Strait to Blenheim and 8 Wired’s Søren Erikson has some big plans for the coming year. He has inherited the oak barrels that Epic’s Luke Nicholas used to produce the Barrel Aged Armageddon and Thornbridge Stout. He currently has some Big Smoke Porter and a 13% Russian Imperial Stout aging in them which will be released this year. He also has plans for a 2%abv flavor packed session beer.

Also in Blenheim Renaissance have plans for a barleywine which will be a welcome addition to the New Zealand beer scene as it’s a style we have precious few examples of.

In Auckland Epic has provided a home to one of our most skilled and highly respected young brewers. When Kelly Ryan succumbed to the siren call of a Kiwi summer while brewing at the Thornbridge brewery in the north of England he didn’t have a job to come home to. There were concerns that perhaps he would end up brewing at one of the large breweries and his skills would be lost to craft brewing. Luckily Luke has found room for him at Epic and I’m sure there will be some awesome beers that will come from the partnership.

The Emerson’s crew have a whole host of exciting beers lined up which will be released as Brewers Reserves through the year however Richard Emerson just turned his hearing aid off when I asked for details! However one bit of news is that Emerson’s Pilsner, one of the nation’s biggest selling craft beers, will no longer be organic from mid January on. The supply of Organic Riwaka hops became finite while the beers growth seems to be most definitely infinite!

Things are looking good for an exciting year of beer, I can’t wait!


CT Column 22/12/2010 : Christmas beer

LAST December I wrote a column on what I would be drinking and eating on Christmas Day. That column obviously captured the imagination of the drinking public as many people approached my family wanting to know if we really eat and drink that well at Christmas: we do.
This Christmas Sarah and myself will start the day with a Haslett-Moore family tradition, salmon, hollandaise and croissants accompanied by a glass of 3 Mont Bier de Flandres , a golden spritzy malt accented ale from the north of France. 3 Mont has a hint of earthy tangy cellar character and a high level of carbonation, which helps it cut the richness of the salmon perfectly.
At midday we will break out the Christmas mince pies and cream with a champagne flute of Three Boys Wild Plum. Wild Plum is a very individualistic fruit beer that uses wild plums from the Three Boys family farm in North Otago to create striking aromas and flavours of tart stone fruit and a prune note. With the mince pies Wild Plum taste dry and even more fruity with the prune character adding complexity to the fruit mince.
Late afternoon our families will arrive and the barbeque will be fired up. On the menu will be a boned out lamb leg marinated in cumin, coriander, paprika and peach and habanero sauce accompanied by a glass of the classic dry spicy Saison from Dupont, Paua fritters packed with garlic and coriander with a touch of chilli with the extravagantly hopped aromatic 8 Wired Tall Poppy, a garden herb marinated split chicken with the fruity hoppy rounded Emerson’s JP2010, and porterhouse steaks rubbed down in Richard Emerson’s own spicy beef rub accompanied by a glass of Yeastie Boys His Majesty 2010.
Then if we have any room left it will be time for a slice of Christmas cake with a nip of Fullers Vintage Ale 2009 a beer that absolutely bursts with marmelady orange fruit and rich fortified malt flavours.
After all that I think it will most definitely be time for a cup of tea!
Cheers, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!