Monday, May 16, 2011

CT Column 11/05/2011: The Rex Attitude

Kiwi’s are always incredibly keen to achieve world firsts. We flew first, we climbed Mt Everest first, we stepped onto Antarctica first, we gave women the vote first, we made the first commercial bungee jump and now we have brewed Rex Attitude, the world’s first 100% peated malt beer. With some of these acts we were just way ahead of our time; with some of the others we were riding the line between recklessness and bravery. Time will tell which category Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude will fall into. Either way everyone who tries Rex is left with the very definite impression that they have tried something unique.

Last year Yeastie Boy head brewer Stu McKinlay came up with the idea of brewing a beer with the peated malt that many Scottish whiskey distillers use to make whiskey. Peated malt is cured or kilned over peat fires which impart all sorts of smoky, earthy, spicy characters to the malt. Peated Malts are occasionally used in beers but usually in very small amounts. When Stu was told that 5% was the absolute maximum amount he should consider using he decided he would in his own words “ignore the wowsers” and start with 100% and scale it back from there if he felt the need. Stu combined the peated malt with Willamette hops and a clean subtle American ale yeast. Upon tasting the beer Stu was convinced it was the best thing he had ever brewed, 2 tonnes of peated malt were ordered from Scotland and a full production batch of the beer was produced.
Last week the beer hit the market. The real test came at the launch party when the first unsuspecting member of the public came into contact with one of the most ‘out there’ beers ever produced anywhere. Local beer photographer Jed Soane was in attendance to capture what he calls The Rex Attitude, the moment when people put the glass to their lips and are totally shocked-surprised-delighted by what they encounter.

So what does this totally unique beer taste like?
Rex Pours a light shade of gold with a tight white head and positively broadcasts aromas of deep earthy smoke, some light heathery kipper notes, and a spicy slightly ashen note. In the mouth light fruity citrus tinged hops make an appearance before big earthy smoky slightly medicinal peat character kicks in and slowly fades. Rex Attitude is a hugely complex beer that will change significantly as it ages, it has already changed a lot over the fortnight I have been tasting it.
Rex Attitude is available at Thorndon and Island Bay New World, Rumbles, Moore Wilson’s, Regional Wines, Hashigo Zake, The Hop Garden, and The Malthouse.

Note: unedited version.


Petal said...

While I am all for experimentation and enjoy quite a few "out there" beers, I am sorry to report that Rex Attitude is possibly the most disgusting beer I have ever tasted!! There is so much peat smoke in it that the beer carries a tang reminiscent of what peat is - decaying vegetative matter. The overall effect is too peaty and smokey to be enjoyable (this from an Islay single malt fan) and neither myself or my mate could drink it. First time in a long time both of us have refused to finish a beer we were tasting! Thankfully I had a Hop Zombie to follow it and clear the taste out of my mouth!!

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

Fair enougth Petal. It would be a boring world if we all liked the same things eh?
Its an extreme beer. What has surpised me is how popular it has been and that there havent been more reactions like yours.