Saturday, December 3, 2011

CT Column 2/11/2011: Pacific Flavours

IN the midst of last month’s kerfuffle over the oval ball a new type of beer festival made its debut. The Pacific Beer Expo brought together a range of beers from around the Pacific rim highlighting beers from Australia, California, Japan and NZ. Organised by cult beer bar Hashigo Zake and held at The Boatshed the festival focused on the beers that Hashigo Zake import and some from their favourite local brewers. The festival had a great social vibe and presented the perfect environment to enjoy some characterful beers. My picks included the new hoppy amber ale from Wellington contract brewers Parrotdog, the citrus scented Islander IPA from San Diego’s Coronado Brewing Co and the sessionable vanilla flavoured porter from Hamilton’s Brewaucracy Brewery. Launched at the festival was a new barley wine from Renaissance Brewing Co called Tribute. Word has it that the beer narrowly avoided having its name changed after a misguided official took issue with a beer displaying the word wine. History has a way of repeating itself as American brewers across the Pacific faced the same petty objections when they first started to brew the style of beer 35 years ago. In America a compromise was achieved that resulted in the clumsy term ‘barleywine style ale’ being adopted. Here in NZ it seems a more sensible approach has been taken. The beer in question clocks in at a warming 10.8%abv with rich sweet malt character, with hints of toasty nut and treacle, a fruity orchard fruit note from the fermentation and a firm bitter finish. Tribute Barley Wine will age well and I think it might hit its straps in three or four years time, that said, it’s drinking well now and would make a great accompaniment to a nice wedge of Stilton cheese. I recommend grabbing a few for the cellar and one to drink now, when you toast calling a spade a spade! Cheers

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