Thursday, June 7, 2012

CT Column 22/03/2012: South of Cuba, north of Wakefield

I have always lived south of Cuba Street and north of Wakefield Park. I’m a Wellingtonian born and bred. However there are other places that tempt me. Nelson with its misty autumns and characterful brewers has a claim on my heart, Dunedin with its frosty winters and warm cosy ale houses could suit me to a tee, and Taranaki with its rolling west coast, stunning scenery and diverse brewers could easily feel like home.

It was in this last location that I found myself a fortnight ago. I was the guest of the White Cliffs Brewery which is more widely known as mikes. White Cliffs is one of the country’s oldest craft brewers having been brewing for well over 20 years. The brewery is set in an idyllic piece of country above a series of white cliffs just outside of Urenui, north of New Plymouth.

Brewery, function centre and organic avocado orchard are all owned and operated by the Trigg family who originally hail from South Africa. The relentless force behind the company is Ron Trigg, a South African who was built for either the rugby field or the savannah and has a seemingly inexhaustible passion and enthusiasm for his beers. In fact Ron’s dedication now extends to actually living at the brewery.

When Ron took over the brewery there were two beers, mike’s Mild Ale the company’s flagship and Mountain Lager. Ron has since rebranded the beers to the much simpler Ale and Lager and has set about adding a host of other permanent and seasonal beers to the portfolio including a range of collaboration brews with fellow Taranaki brewery Liberty. My picks are the flagship mike’s Ale, a smooth chocolate tinged mild ale that’s both highly drinkable and flavoursome at a modest 4%abv, and the rich smooth Imperial Porter that takes a similar flavour profile but turns the volume up clocking in at 8%abv.

Taranaki Pale Ale is a collaboration between Liberty Breweries Jo Wood and Ron and presents a huge blast of grassy exotic fruity hop character with a caramel accented malt backbone. While I was there I was lucky enough to taste very special vintage porter that Ron has been working on. The beer started out as a chocolaty espresso tinged porter before being aged in barrels containing the wild yeast Brettanomyces. The resulting beer is a delicate balance of sweet malt, soft soothing mocha and earthy tangy wild notes, in my opinion it’s a triumph, look out for it on tap in the near future!
Cheers!

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