Saturday, December 3, 2011

CT Column 19/10/2011 : Ale from Adversity

A few weeks ago a very special beer found its way onto the market. Most beers pass through the production process smoothly with the result more or less as the brewer intended. Under normal circumstances the worst a beer might face would be an equipment malfunction proving a hassle for the brewer and the possibility of being detrimental to the finished beer. However the February earthquake in Christchurch has created some very extraordinary circumstances for the city’s brewers. When the quake hit, the staff and customers of Christchurch’s legendary brewpub The Twisted Hop, had to flee the building. The kitchen staff left with their pizza ovens still roaring, the punters left their pints unfinished on the tables, and the brewing staff left this year’s vintage of Enigma barley wine conditioning in a tank. It would be months before the staff and owners would be able to return to The Twisted Hop as it was stranded within the red zone. On May the 8th owners Martin Bennett and Stephen Hardman managed to return to the bar for an hour after gaining entry via the boudoirs of a neighbouring brothel. It took until August before they were able to access the brewhouse conditioning tanks and get the barley wine out. The beer was taken to Harrington’s Brewery where it was bottled and distributed around the country under the name Red Zone Enigma Barley Wine. Barley Wine is a strong malt accented style of beer that tends to benefit from age. The enforced ‘cordon aging’ has given the beer an rich smoothness and integration that I have never found in Engma before. The hop character has mellowed into a lovely marmalade character while the rich malt profile has increased in complexity. The label bears the line “Christchurch and The Twisted Hop will rise again, of that we’re certain. So if you need something to raise a glass to we hope that will suffice.” I can’t think of a better beer to toast Christchurch’s future, get some while you can as it won’t last long! Cheers

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