Tag Archive: New Zealand

Yeastie Boys: Cigar City: Brewing With Wayne (New Zealand: Lichtenhainer : 4.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy lemon juice to apricot. Large white to off white head.

Nose: Bready. Sulphur. Slightly sour. Dried lemon. Peppercorn.

Body:Lemon. Smoked meat touch. Tart grapes. Wheaty. Salt touch. Juniper.

Finish: Salted lemon. Barbecue ribs touch. Lemongrass. Lemon juice. Salt. Slight sage. Juniper.

Conclusion: This is a pretty thick, sticky, weighty mouthfeel of a beer. Which is completely not what I expected from the moderate abv, less so did I expect that, despite the sticky weight, it is actually easy to drink. Oh what a world we live in that has such things in it.

What makes it work is that it is tart – with lemon notes,slightly salted, something that should, by themselves, make an easy going summer refresher; here they are matched with a smoke character that is akin to scraping a thin layer of the top of a rack of barbecued spare ribs and dropping it straight into the mix. Flavour wise it is a light note, but it makes the whole beer feel more mouth clinging, before expanding into subtle peppercorn and sage notes that make me think of a good steak dish.

So, lightly tart and sour, smoked gently with savoury herb notes. Quite the mix. If kind of feels like the less sour goses that I tried in Goslar – the wheat beer character is more evident than most of the sour wheat beers, and it seems to have extra ingredient flavours packed into every place they could, with juniper notes coming out later on.

It has a strange weight, but the tart flavours let it slip down easily. Sticky, yet never outstays its welcome. Not exactly a session beer – just a tad too high abv for that. It feels like a gose meets smoke meets herbs meets an attempt at a session … thing with wheat beer influence meets the reflection on the concept of Plato’s cave. Ok, I lied about that last one. Just making sure you are still paying attention.

A nice easy drinking, big flavour unusual beer.

Background: This caught my eye as it is a darn unusual one – a lichtenhainer – a style I have not tried before. Looking online it seems it is a traditional German style, similar to the gose, but made with some use of smoked malt. So, a sour, smoked wheat ale. Of course! This one seems unusual even for one that falls in this style – it is made with lemongrass,BBQ charred lemons and juniper, along with several different types of smoked malt. Oddly for a collaboration between a USA and an NZ brewery, it looks like it was actually brewed in England. Again, of course! This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit and,feeling a bit old school, I put a variety of Madness tunes to listen to. One of the first bands I ever got into in my youth and I still have a soft spot for them.


Cassels and Sons: Extra Pale Ale (New Zealand: American Pale Ale: 4.9% ABV)

Visual: Clear pale yellow with lots of small bubbled carbonation and a small yellowed head.

Nose: Turmeric. Earthy bitterness. Orange zest.

Body: Orange zest and orange skin. Dry. Vanilla. Earthy bitterness. Sour dough. Cereal and shredded wheat. Light sour grapes.

Finish: Turmeric. Dry. Slightly rocky. Moderate bitterness. Nettles. Peppery.

Conclusion: This feels a very Birtish influenced pale ale rather than the American take which I think is more its aim. It is especially odd as this is Nelson Sauvin hopped – a hop I associate more with grapefruit and pineapple rather than the earthy, turmeric and pepper notes that we get here.

Another element that makes me think of English Pales is that light orange note and solid dry bitterness that is an oft overlooked part of the style – it is a less obvious note that the earthy character that just shouts UK hops, but still there – and odder still because this does not use UK hops. At all I think.

Maybe it is the well attenuated character combined with a lower abv that makes the hop express itself differently. I mean, 4.9% isn’t a low abv, but it is a lot lower than a lot of the bursting beers that I usually encounter Nelson Sauvin in, so that may make the difference. The attenuated character makes it super dry, so maybe there is little for the tart fruitiness to grab hold of, instead you get light fresh notes in a tart grape style, just below the earthy bitterness.

It is pretty drinkable though – there area a lot of heavy bitterness notes, along with some rough notes that should prevent it being so, but the dry character is used well and instead of hindering, instead gives a lager like drinkability, backed by just a touch of vanilla to wash the rougher bitterness down down.

It is a solid beer, not showy, nor showcasing the hop, but solid and easy to drink. It does the British pale style brilliantly, even if it seems that was not the style they were aiming for.

Background: Ever since my Sister spent some time in New Zealand, which made it easier for me to get hold of their beers, I have been interested and excited by the NZ beer scene. So when this new brewery on me turned up at Independent Spirit I decided to give one of their beers a try. This beer in fact. Went for their Pale Ale as it seemed a reasonable entry point, especially as it uses the Nelson Sauvin hops which are one of the utter gems of the NZ hop scene in my opinion. Had been at a 90’stastic gig in Bristol the day before drinking this, so put on some Terrorvision as seeing them live reminded me they are still a bloody good band.

8 Wired: Hippy Berliner (New Zealand: Berliner Weisse: 4% ABV)

Visual: Pale lager yellow to grain look. A small amount of small bubbled carbonation. Thin white head.

Nose: Quite thick. Passion-fruit. Oily resinous feel. Light bitterness and hop character. Slight apple. Oats. Slight fresh lemon.

Body: Fresh and acidic. Tart apples and tart white grapes. Dry mango. Slight cloying twist centre. Oats. Light kiwi. Light bitterness.

Finish: Tart white grapes. Elderflower. Vanilla. Light hop bitterness. Flour. Light salt.

Conclusion: This is very unlike most Berliner Weisses that I’ve had – in fact it feels like what Bonaparte wanted to be; It is a berliner that tries to match that freshness with extra flavour from a good use of hop character.

Things are distinctly different from the off – while it has fresh undertones, the aroma is quite resinous with this muggy passion-fruit character. It feels like a heavy resinous hop styled beer, not something I’d associate with most sour beers, but it doesn’t eclipse that aspect either.

The beer below that aroma is closer to expectations with fresh lemon and acidic apple; Smoother and lighter than most berliner weisses in harshness but still recognisable in the style. It actually feels kind of elderflower drink like as an additional unusual characteristic – the sour character mixes with the moderate fruit hops to give this refreshing characteristic about halfway between the two. Odd, but nice.

Overall it is refreshing – despite its unusual takes it ends up not feeling that revolutionary. The odder elements come together over time to balance pretty well, losing some of the odder edges, but making for a better beer.

It is not a must have, but does the job well – the hop usage feeling like a nice replacement for the adding of syrup that is traditionally common. Not bad at all.

Background: 8 Wired! I love these lot’s stuff, but they turn up comparatively rarely in the UK – so when I saw this one in Independent Spirit I grabbed it. With it being a brightly coloured, hip and happy bottle, I decided to put on Paradise Lost – Gothic as music. They just seemed to go so well together. This is a Berliner weisse, hopped with American and New Zealand hops – wasn’t sure how well that would work – oft hops get over used these days to wreck an originally not hop based style. Still when done well a pinch of hops can really rock a beer in new ways, so happy to give a go.

The New Zealand Whisky Company Dunedin Doublewood 15 Year

The New Zealand Whisky Company: Dunedin: Doublewood 15 Year (New Zealand Blended Whisky: 15 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed amber.

Viscosity: Quite fast thick streaks.

Nose: Sherried trifle. Drambuie. Treacle. Liquorice touch. Buttery shortbread. Marzinpan.

Body: Toffee. Raspberry. Twigs. Alcohol builds. Sour red grapes. Water brings out trifle, oak, custard and cherries.

Finish: Dry oak. Red wine. Strawberry jam. Water brings out oak and tannins. Sour red wine and cherries. Touch of apples.

Conclusion: This is whisky, but not as I know it. Join me as I take a fun wee trail into the unknown here.

The base feel, the toffee sweetness and general, well, whisky character is there. It is not a complete unknown. What is laid over that is an initially very sherry trifle character, very sweet and creamy.

This settles down into a darker feeling whisky, more sour wine and oaken character that comes with those kind of wine coming out from under that initial sweetness. Both the sweet and the sour takes show obvious red wine influence, but there are other touches such as the bright red cherries, sweet touches over an overall quite dry whisky. It shows a complex experience and range.

The alcohol feel is the odd part, in that initially I expected a kind of sherry character to it, but instead there is a kind of drambuie alcohol feel – it is here that it feels like it departs most from what I would expect of a standard whisky – an element that is not quite to my taste but doesn’t get in the way too much.

Overall it is very impressive. The different barrel ageing is a nigh completely different experience, but the base whisky holds well enough that it doesn’t feel like a gimmick. A sign that NZ can really have their own style of whisky and not just recreate what already exists. A good sign.

Background: Tried at Brewdog Bristol, this is a new one on me. Aged for six years in Bourbon barrels, then finished in French Oak New Zealand wine barrels (according to a quick google one source says Pinot Noir). That just fascinated me, so I grabbed a measure, wonder if craft beer sis has run into this one as she is a NZ fan.

Epic Armageddon IPA

Epic: Armageddon IPA (New Zealand: IPA: 6.66% ABV)

Visual: Burnished gold. Large mound of off white head that leaves suds. Some small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Popcorn hops. Light kiwi fruit. Resin. Slightly musty. Crushed malt biscuits.

Body: High bitterness. Custard cream biscuits. Bready. Tinned topical fruit. Large hop character. Toffee. Lemon sherbet. Froths up easily, carrying hop oils. Pineapple tartness. Lime notes. Marmalade.

Finish: Bready bitterness. Good hop character and resin. Mango juice with pulp. Dried apricot. Lemon sherbet. Hop oils. Gooseberry and pineapple.

Conclusion: Ok, an NZ IPA that concentrates more on the big bitterness than the tartness that you can get with NZ hops. Interesting. Risky as well, as it plays down what is NZ IPA’s big selling point. Let’s see how well this gets over.

Initial impressions is that it may have lost a bit of freshness on the way over to the UK – the hop character is impressively large, but just slightly musty – an element I normally run into in an IPA that has been around a few months. Even with that it is impressive with the level of hop bitterness and hop oils. Not to Stone Brewing level excellence, but considering Stone are the kings of hop beers, it does well to be compared with them.

The tart flavours, even though they are played down, are still here. There is more dried apricot sweetness that tart notes, which reminds me of American hops. The pineapple tartness comes in third in emphasis, just keeping everything fresh enough that the big hops don’t wear out their welcome too early.

As it warms it keeps a similar balance of flavour, but the fruit character does become clearer. It is impressive how they deliver that flavour without letting it get too sharp. Overall, even muted as it is by the journey this is a big IPA and well made. It can’t compete with the layered subtle complexity of 8 Wired’s Hop wired, it is more a straight up hop assault, but it is very good at that.

Not as good as Enjoy By IPA for sheer hop assault, then again that was fresh as can be, not as complex as Hopwired – but it mixes the two well enough to be a very good IPA to enjoy.

Background: Woo, Epic back in the house. Unlike most previous Epic beers this was not brought back from NZ for me by craft beer sis. Instead it is one of a batch of NZ beers that turned up in Brew Bristol. A fine shop that has a whole wealth of home brew stuff, including all the fun malts and hops. So, having had to come the slow way here it is slighter older than previous NZ beers I have tried, but still seems to be doing well. Drunk while listening to LukHash – Falling Apart. As I am still on a chiptune kick.

Tuatara Bavarian Hefe

Tuatara: Bavarian Hefe (New Zealand: Hefeweizen: 5.0% ABV)

Visual: Pale cloudy yellow. Thin white head.

Nose: Light raspberry pavlova. Dried banana. Cloves. Wheat. Bubblegum. Dough. Palma violets.

Body: Lemon. Slight sherbet. Barley and honey. Dried banana. Bubblegum. Coriander.

Finish: Light ground up peanuts. Banana. Vanilla. Wet feel.

Conclusion: Not bad. Despite being called “Hefe” this, however, doesn’t rock the full hefeweizen character to my mind. Flavour wise it is pretty close with nice banana and clove notes, but both to the eye and in mouthfeel it cleaves closer to the more filtered Kristalweizen style.

In fact the kristal influence does seem to show up in the weakest parts of the beer – with a slightly neutral malt tone in the middle of the whole thing; A kind of absence of character that the beer needs to fill before it can be what it could be. Despite that weakness they manage to pack around that a decent set of notes – a light coriander spice that calls to the Belgian wit and a nice lemon freshness.

Overall I think I will have to paraphrase my craft beer sis who put it best – it isn’t bad, but it is something that you get because you can easily find it in a NZ supermarket, not because it is one of the better beers. Thanks craft beer sis!

There, that saved me having to think up some pithy way of rounding off the notes.

Background: New Zealand beer! They have a nice wee craft scene over there, so I have been glad to see more of their beers turning up over here. This one grabbed from Independent Spirit. I am aware that I have it in the wrong kind of wheat beer glass, but it is only 330ml so looks silly in my big german weisse glasses. Incidentally the bottle looks kind of like a ribbed dildo, though that was not the only reason I bought it. Weisse beers were one of the first things that got me to try different and tasty beer, so I have long had a soft spot for them.

8 Wired Semi Conductor

8 Wired: Semi Conductor (New Zealand: Session IPA: 4.4% ABV)

Visual: Lemon yellow. Small white head that leaves white suds. Low carbonation in the body.

Nose: Peach and orange. Kiwi and prickly hops. Touch of brown sugar and dry malt.

Body: Grapes. Unleavened bread. Bitter. Soft texture. Gooseberry and pineapple. Toffee malt. Prickly nettles. Apricot and peach. Vanilla.

Finish: Unleavened brown bread. Some charring. Grapes. Pineapple. Kiwi. Nettle prickle. Apricot. Dry.

Conclusion: 8 Wired and hops. 8 WIRED AND HOPS IN AN IPA! Well, hellloooo nurse. This is a very soft and gentle beer. Well, it feels soft and gentle as a texture and base flavour , hop wise it prickles with bitterness.

Now, it, of course, cannot live up to the sheer joy and weight of hopwired and superconductor. Its bigger cousins have the advantage of having larger range to play with. Here the flavour is a mix of soft toffee malt and vanilla, to juicy fruit and slight tartness, that styling that 8 wired excel at.

Now, for all this is sounding awesome so far, there is a very noticeable drawback that seems to have been brought in by the session style. There is a not exactly unpleasant, but not enticing unleavened bread style mid body, that becomes a harsher burnt charring at the end. It feels like a side effect of unhandled hop bitterness, kind of like the runoff from the main body. It isn’t terrible, but it doesn’t help the session style, and is far from the polished masterpiece that make up their other IPAs.

Still, it is very easy drinking for the bitterness, and it is still well done for flavour. It does the job ok, but does highlight the problem in trying to make a good session IPA, a style that is still a bit of hard sell for me.

Background: An IPA, from 8 Wired you say. On tap. Seriously I could not order my schooner fast enough. Or my 2/3 of a pint for those of you who hate the term schooner. Yeah, 8 Wired have a very good rep with me. This was drunk while chatting with friends in the midday sun outside Brewdog Bristol. I still hold that session IPA is an odd term, but that fight may be long lost. Oh, and the term for someone electronically breaking into a computer system is cracker not hacker. #stillfightingoldlinguisticbattles.

8 Wired Mighty Imperal Ale

8 Wired: Mighty Imperial Ale (New Zealand: American Strong Ale: 11% ABV)

Visual: Deep cherry red. Dash of off white head. Head becomes larger and somewhat toffee edged when I filled up the glass with the last of the bottle.

Nose: Smoke. Smoked bacon. Fruitcake. Caramel. Shortbread. Thick. Cherries and cream.

Body: Thick. Salt touch. Smoked meat platter. Toffee. Very smooth. Lots of cherries and cream. Vanilla. Somehow rough edges right at its core. Oak.

Finish: Liquorice. Dry smoke. Drying feel. Light cream. Salt touch. Chocolate. Meat platter.

Conclusion: Now this is an interesting work. Smooth cherries, vanilla and fruitcake in a very layered, decadent silken style. Then, against that, there is a heavy oaken, salt touched and hugely smoked meat style that is actually quite punishing and thus utterly unlike the underlying sweetness.

So, that means the beer is a mess, right? Somehow, no actually. The layers, in their two distinct groups are layered carefully over each other. The weightier elements seem to sink through permeating everything over time. So the beer starts sweet but smoke touched and slowly builds to a rock salt and smoked meat crescendo.

That extreme smoothness of texture means that all the rough edges it has must come from the flavour and it certainly uses them well, mixing the flavours where they meet to create contradictory sensations.

The best part of the beer is the build up, the slow progression. About three quarters of the way in it peaks too early, and, while still good, the rest of the beer doesn’t have the same feeling of rich contrast or the promise of more to come.

So, 50% a beer of sheer joy and class, about 25% of peaked awesome, and 25% of merely ok. I’ll take that

Background: 8 Wired are probably my favourite of the New Zealand craft beer scene at this point, and that is a fairly skilled group of brewers. As is often the case, Brewdog’s guest beer section is facilitating my 8 Wired needs. Not much else to add to this one, was listening to Scroobius Pip’s/B Dolan’s Soldier Boy (Kill Em) while drinking.


8 Wired: Bumaye (New Zealand: Imperial Stout: 16% ABV)

Visual: Black. Rim of suds.

Nose: Raisins. Figs. Fruity red wine. Brown sugar. Hint of smoke. Dates. Fruitcake. Coconut. Treacle. Nougat.

Body: Syrup and treacle. Charring. Liquore texture. Bitter chocolate. Coffee notes. Nougat. Spiced fruit notes. Cherries. Truffles. Red grapes. Cinder toffee.

Finish: Very bitter chocolate. Glacier cherries. Shortbread. Coffee. Bitter red wine. Brown sugar.

Conclusion: So it’s that time again, insanely high abv, barrel aged Imperial Stouts. Ok, I’ve got a lot to say on this one, so give me a moment to sit down and compose my thoughts. Though mainly the sit down part. My alcohol tolerance has gone with age.

This things tastes like those cherry liquore filled bitter chocolate sweets you can get. Very harsh at first, but richly rewarding. The massive bitter chocolate even manages to push the pinot noir influence into second place for influences on the beer and that is saying something. Not to say that the barrel ageing isn’t influential, especially in the aroma, it just isn’t the number one influence.

Speaking of the aroma…daaamn.. seriously if anyone can make a beer that tastes like this smells then I will love them for at least five minutes. Maybe even six. There are dark fruits, coconut, red wine, nougat. It is like someone took all my favourite Imperial Stout elements and put it in one haze floating over the beer.

The body just can’t live up to that. Sorry, it just canna. It is great though, nougat through chocolate then down into a finish of red wine…through chocolate. I did mention chocolate has a big influence right? On the other hand there are so many elements that make it almost triflesque with the fruit and wine rising up, but a trifle layered in chocolate fondue. That analogy also just about fits with the spiced side of the fruit you get. Presumably someone had soaked the fruit for the trifle in rum, because, why wouldn’t you?

It is spicy, dark, refined and heavy. Great, even if not quite what the aroma promised. When you accept what it is you find something not entirely unlike an alcoholic Turkish delight and lovely at that. Albeit with much more bitter chocolate.

I very much enjoyed this, the closest comparison I can find is the 666 version of hel and verdoemenis, though I would say this is the sweeter take. This happily manages to stand alone on its own two feet, maybe not the best, but as the unique thing it is it manages to make itself the best in a crowd of one.

I’m glad I’m sitting down. Wow that was good beer.

Background: 8 Wired have been my favourite brewery from NZ for a while now, so when I got the chance to get my hands on this Pinot Noir aged Imperial Stout, well of course I did.

C4 Double Coffee Brown
8 Wired: C4 Double Coffee Brown Ale (New Zealand: Brown Ale: 8% ABV)

Visual: Chestnut red brown. Moderate coffee coloured large bubbled head.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Massive rich coffee and milky coffee. Creamy. Shortbread. Slight cheese puffs.

Body: Rich rounded coffee mixes with bitter coffee. Big hazelnuts. Bitter chocolate. Some milky chocolate. Slight cheese yeastiness. Kiwi and grapes in the coffee.

Finish: Very bitter coffee. Roasted nuts. Bitter chocolate. Slight mature cheese dusting. Kiwi fruit. Vanilla.

Conclusion: If you have looked through the notes above you may have noticed that I have basically just been listing coffee and chocolate, with whatever qualifying adjectives I can find. Pretty much all the flavours come from those two root elements, but describing it as such really doesn’t do the beer justice. In the style of Beer Geek Brunch Weasel the coffee is an element distinct in itself that can be dissected and analysed as much as the beer can.

There is a fruitiness to the coffee, subtle vanilla notes to the bitter chocolate. Rich and rounded they are backed by the understated base beer which adds nuttiness and a very slight note of mature cheese, an almost yeasty feel that is texture more than anything else.

I am very impressed by how they do this, the brown ale part of it is much closer to the American interpretation of the style than the tarter UK take. It is sweet, frothy and very malty and doesn’t have the acidic touch you can get in the UK.

It all comes together in a way than means that the small number of elements have a fractal complexity below and a luxurious style. It is utterly smooth and just builds to a wonderful symphony of flavour.

I wish I had enough experience of coffee to describe it better. So instead I will concentrate on that odd, very light cheese like element that starts out intriguing and becomes a vital element. It is a yeastiness style around which the coffee builds and this means that the beer character is kept intact so you don’t just feel you are drinking alcohol coffee. Overall this is a show of excellence in a crowded coffee beer market.

I love this beer.

Background: Picked up from Brewdog’s guest beer selection, this sounded a bit special. Coffee has been used in a lot of imperial stouts, but not so often in the oft overlooked Brown ale to my knowledge. 8 Wired have done pretty solid by me so far, so I put in some Nine Inch Nails and broke this open.

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