Thursday, September 15, 2011

CT Column 6/07/2011: Winter Warmer

AT the end of June each year the New Zealand Society Of Beer Advocates holds a Matariki winter ales festival to celebrate the broad range of hearty wintry brews that are available to New Zealand beer drinkers.
Last year’s inaugural festival for the consumer group set the blue print for the event by creating a sociable environment in which conversation reigned and the safe enjoyment and appreciation of good beer with good food was the primary goal. This year the event very much continued in the same vein with a fantastic range of beers, some hearty tasty food provided by Gavin Grant the head chef from The Hop Garden and a fantastic laid back sociable vibe.
My picks of the beers included the new vintage of Yeastie Boys Her Majesty, a sneak preview of the yet to be released 8 Wired The Sultan and the Baird Dark Sky Imperial Stout. This year Her Majesty comes in the form of a pale Belgian ale that has been fermented with a Saison yeast but has a richer malt profile than would be normal for the style, spicy, fruity and incredibly drinkable!
The Sultan from 8 Wired is a yet to be released Belgian Quadruple again fermented with a Saison yeast and aged over sultanas. The Sultan was warming and strong with a definite dried fruit vinous quality that was reminiscent of a Pedro Ximenez sherry. Baird Dark Sky Imperial Stout is probably the opposite of what most people would expect from a Japanese beer, rich, dark and formidably strong. Dark Sky delivered plenty of dark cocoa and rich espresso flavours with a great full bodied malt character and a firm bitter finish.
Next year the festival will have to shed its ‘Matariki’ moniker as (astoundingly) Matariki Wines have been granted a trademark on the term. This is the equivalent of being allowed to trademark “New Years Eve”. The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand has some explaining to do!
In other beer festival news, Beervana is looking to be bigger than ever. Earlier this year the Brewers Guild of NZ sold the festival to David Cryer, the former Brewers Guild chairman. The festival has moved from the town hall to the Westpac stadium. While the town hall offered fantastic aesthetics, a major downside to holding the event there was that all food had to be supplied by the contracted caterer. The stadium offers the opportunity to serve food from some of Wellington’s best chefs alongside the nation’s best beers. Tickets are on sale at


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