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.
IT doesn’t seem like a whole year since I wrote last year’s Christmas column. It has now become a tradition at this time each year for me to write about what I will eat and drink on Christmas Day.
This year the hills of Brooklyn will again host a long day of gastronomic and fermented fun for the Haslett-Moore family and associated clans.
Our day will start with the family tradition of smoked salmon and eggs hollandaise. This year breakfast will be matched with a champagne flute of tart dry, funky 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze. Geuze is a type of Lambic beer, a very old fashioned family of beers that are fermented with wild yeasts that are carried into the brewery from the surrounding apple orchards on the wind. The resulting beer is sour, fresh and dry with a tangy hint of lime cordial, dry sherry and wild gamy notes. It has more than enough tart ‘cut’ to handle the rich oiliness of the salmon and buttery palate coating hollandaise.
Then it will be on to a light lunch of mussels barbequed in garlic butter, prawns cooked with lemon grass and chilli, Chicken satay kebabs and a noodle salad. Here the newly released imperial pilsner Epic Larger will make an appearance. Epic Larger is a supercharged new world pilsner taking the hop accented new world pilsner style and turning up the alcohol, body, and hop character together resulting in a zesty, fruity, perilously drinkable 8.5%abv beer. The zesty fruity hop notes of the Larger will complement the zesty South East Asian flavours of the prawns, rich heat of the satay and the pungent garlic hit of the mussels while the crisp refreshing quality of the beer will help cool the palate ready for the next mouthful.
By mid afternoon the Christmas mince pies, eccles cakes and aged cheddar will come out. To accompany this I will break out a bottle of Fullers Past Masters XX Strong Ale. XX Strong has aged beautifully through the year with its pronounced fruity hop character melding perfectly with the beer’s rich rounded soothing malt body and marmalade accented yeast profile. The rich sweet orange accented beer should complement the richness of the spiced fruit mince perfectly.
By early evening our blended family will be filling the house ready for the evening meal. A ham glazed in a Jamaican jerk glaze will adorn the table alongside a range of salads, roast potatoes, crusty bread and cheeses. This will be accompanied by the classic English pale ale Timothy Taylor’s Landlord. With its fresh zesty heathery hop character and firm cracker like malt backbone Landlord will stand up to the spicy ham and the fresh salads. Importantly considering the toll that the day’s proceedings will have had by this point Landlord is very moderate in the alcohol stakes clocking in at a very seasonable 4.1%abv.
After a dessert course where the booze will come with a trifle around it, it will be time to end the day with a slice of Christmas cake and a glass of the indulgently rich Rochefort 10. Rochefort 10 is brewed by monks at the Abby of St Remy in Belgium. It’s rich, dark and deeply fruity with a soothing warming character that will no doubt ease me off to bed. Merry Christmas.