Reflections on beer from an advocate, retailer, brewer and drinker.
I am the Beer Specialist for Regional Wines and Spirits one of the most comprehensive and unique liquor retailers in New Zealand. My background is as a cheese monger and I have an all round passion for fermented foods. I have a particular passion for English beer styles and I run a 60 litre real ale home brewery.
Best Local draught beer: Galbraith’s Hobson’s IPA, an awesomely drinkable and complex IPA of the old school type that doesn’t favour hop aroma over all else.
Runner up 8 Wired Haywired Wheat Ale. A great example of an emerging style. Hoppy, complex and refreshing. Best Local packaged beer: Townshend’s Flemish Stout , a beguiling combination tart vinous Flemish sour ale flavours and a big rich satisfying stout. Original and bloody marvellous.
Runner up Yeastie Boys nevaRRaven , a big rich strong beer that defies being pigeon holed. Part black IPA , part Black Barleywine, totally awesome. Best Overseas packaged: Dupont Moinette Blond , a complex blend of spicy ferment character, bright hops all backed up by a firm malt backbone, big flavours in perfect balance.
Runner up Fullers Past Master Double Stout , big rich and roasty, another chapter from the history books. Best Overall Beer: Well as always it’s hard, I think best overall beer should be a one off beer drinking experience that was special. There have been a few this year. My celebratory Duchess de Bourgogne at LBQ with the Emerson’s crew after winning the trophy at the BGNZ Awards was pretty special. Also sharing the gloriously bonkers Thorogoods Billy Bs Dark Malted Apple Beer with Martin Townshend at the picnic table outside his brewery.
Best Pumpclips: Ok , totally self congratulating but I totally love the Southstar Sceptred Warrior pump clip worked up for me by Ryan McArthur. The Winston’s are pure Dr Who.
Best NZ Brewery: It has to be Galbraith’s , they are still producing drinkable, complex, aromatic beers that leave most others for dust.
Runner up Townshend’s , Martin is seriously hitting his strides , his reserve range has offered up some wonderful gems this year with the Stout a high point. Best New Brewery: This really has to go to Parrotdog, three young relatively inexperienced dudes called Matt suddenly have command of a 24 HL Brewhouse , now my money was on the beers being pretty ropy, in fact they are the best they ever have been! Good work!
Best Overseas Brewery: Fullers. My desert island brewery. Awesome house yeast, awesome beers, and a great diverse range. They do what many family brewers should, keep things interesting. No change from last year, they still rock my world. Pub/Bar of the Year: There haven’t been to many pub visits this year, times are tough. But I did make it to Galbraith’s and it was awesome as ever. It would be a toss up between Braith’s and The Hop Garden I reckon.
Beer Festival of the Year: Beervana passed as a blur this year as I worked through all sessions, I’m sure it was awesome. I really enjoyed SOBA Winter Ales Fest I think this year’s festival was a cracker.
Im going to pass on the Retailer Questions , the answers are to loaded for me. Best Beer Book/Mag: I very much enjoyed Pete Brown’s Three Sheets to the Wind which I read recently. I’m looking forward to Shakespeare’s Local. Mag wise Pursuit of Hoppyness just keeps getting better and better.
Best Blog: The local Blog scene has changed. Beer for a Year shut up shop when the year was up, Phil is well and truly to busy to contribute very often. Jono Galuszka has started one from a homebrew view point. I haven’t really found time to read it yet. Boak and Baily are definitely my most read blog, probably followed by Tandleman. Its always good to read some sparkler propaganda to keep the blood pumping. Best tweeter: Martin Townshend, blunt , down to earth and when he is drunk brutal, but refreshing for all that. Ironically I think he may have just given it up. Best Online Brewery Presence: Garage Project , great promotion and web presence. Food and Beer Pairing of the Year: Stichelton with Renaissance Tribute. Outstanding. Best event of the Year: I have missed so many this year. Everything seems to be on a Weds when I’m at work. I enjoyed to Old World IPA Challenge although it was pretty low key.
What I'd like to do in 2013: Southstar has finally become a thing, hopefully by this time next year it will be a little more.