Lager Roundup

I said a while back in my review of Gizzy Gold that the brewery had sold up and a new batch of rather nebulously defined owners were moving in. Since then I’ve heard rumours of changes at the brewery. Most notably new bottle labels and a new recipe. As we’ve been working through the backlog of bottles at Regional though, the change hasn’t come into effect until recently, when the new bottles arrived at Golding’s. So I decided I’d better see what shape the old girl is in.

Here’s the new bottle:

IMG_20140119_011924

First of all, it’s in a brown bottle, which I approve of. However, my initial impression is that I don’t like it. This reaction is though I suspect just the knee-jerk everyone gets when someone moves their cheese, so I thought about it a little deeper. The new label is certainly slicker, but somehow it lacks the rustic charm of the old label.

Gizzy bottle

Old Gizzy. Very rustic.

I wasn’t the only one who thought this. “It’s a bit of a font-circus,” said one of my colleagues. “It feels like some design student did it for a school project.” Fair point, it kind of does. There are lots of little do-dads on the label that a designer would think is ‘neat’, but as a consumer, I find them confusing and superfluous. And what’s with this neck label? Neck labels are a terrible idea. It’s hard to get them to line up, stick properly or stop them falling off. If you look closely, the one here is off-centre and has folded in on itself in the top right corner.

I do like that it still says “Natural All Malt Lager,” like that still means anything, but the bottle blurb feels like it was written by a marketing monkey:

IMG_20140119_012543

Click to enlarge.

I have no idea if Geoff Logan or anyone else at Sunshine Brewery surfed at all, but somehow it just all seems less authentic than the old label.

[UPDATE] – According to Twitter and the comments at the end of this post, Geoff was indeed a keen surfer. Neato. I still think that “a lightly toasted maltiness” is an inaccurate description, and a “hop back-bone” that is simultaneously “solid” yet “hovers” is rather silly and a little nonsensical.

I know it seems like I’m ripping on it unnecessarily, but there genuinely is a reason: the old label made Gizzy look like a local Heineken knock-off, which well, it kinda was. The old label felt safe. Stella-Suits that come into Golding’s would frequently pick it out of the fridge because it looked familiar. In the weird and confusing world that is the modern beer bar, The old Gizzy label promised them something safe and familiar that they could hold onto. And it delivered on that promise with the mild and inoffensive beer inside the bottle. And I can’t help feeling like they’ve departed from that with their new packaging.

But all this is so much hot air, relative to how the beer tastes. So how does this new recipe (if it is one) shape up?

Pretty good actually. It’s still an inoffensive lagery thing, but new Gizzy seems to have a little more zip than the old one. It’s hard to tell if this is a new recipe and they’ve bumped up the hops a fraction, or if it’s just a matter of freshness. Alternatively it could also be a matter of that most nebulous of influences: context.

The last Gizzy I drank was at the start of a big evening, which may have muddied my memory. On the other hand, this one I drank at the end of a busy shift, a time when even a pint of plain old tap water can taste like distilled rainbows. Admittedly both are pretty good contexts, but new Gizzy may have the advantage.

Either way, it still delivers the same pleasantly inoffensive beer (without the whiff of corporate tait) that we’ve come to love and adore. So for all my petty label-gipes, Gizzy still deserves it’s place in Golding’s fridge. Moving on.

Now I know to my regular readers (apprently I actually have those) this is going to sound absolutely bananas coming from me, but has anyone tried Singha recently?  It’s surprisingly good.

You see I have an obsession with noodle soups, and a little while ago I decided I needed some Pho Bo and a beer for lunch. My local Vietnamese joint had a rather sad beer-list, consisting of Mac Black and three different pale lagers (no Gizzy), so I chose Singha for reasons of authenticity. I was initially rather tickled that it turned up in a Magners glass.

I'm a big fan of glasphemy.

I’m a big fan of glasphemy.

I did however, find myself really rather enjoying the beer. The body is thin, almost anorexically so, but still there, and it has a slight lemony character that I found rather pleasing. It doesn’t go fantastically with noodle soup, it being only slightly more beer-flavoured than the broth in my Pho, but I do find myself revisiting this combo every time I’m in Little Hanoi.

I suspect the reason I like it so much and why I’m recommending it here is a matter of mathematics:

Low Expectations X Unexpected Quality = Positive Review.

The fact that I supposed Singha to be bloody awful and it was in fact pretty ok, means that it gets a big thumbs up from me. And it totally has nothing to do with me using this blog post years down the line as insurance against accusations of beer snobbery. Regardless of this, I can say with utter confidence that Singha is the best shitty Asian Lager I’ve ever had and if you find yourself at your favourite noodle house, you could do a hell of a lot worse than ordering one of these.

Now that’s what I call consumer advice.

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The Bottleneck Awards 2013

So a new year is here, and a different anniversary is rapidly approaching: one year of this blog!

*Fweeeep!* (that’s the sound of those cheap party hooters they used to give us in the goodie bags at birthday parties when we were kids).

To mark whichever of those two occasions is more significant, I thought I’d look back on the last 365 attempted hangovers and see which ones I liked best. Now two warnings.

First of all, caveat lector: these are my opinions, and are meant for recreational use only. Don’t take them seriously. The second warning is this: I haven’t actually made any trophies for the recipients of these awards. If anyone feels strongly about this, they can feel free to craft their own ones. I suggest a tiny statuette of me, holding a pint. Or maybe I’ll just spray paint bottles gold and send them to the winners. If they ask really nicely.

Anywho, let’s get started.

The Green Bottle Piss Award for Best Lager

If I were ever to open a brewery, I’d make the most awesome Pilsner possible, then call it “Green Bottle Pils”, using a font where the L’s and S’s looked remarkably similar. I’d then probably serve it on tap exclusively, or in brown bottles just to be obtuse. But anyway, if I did make a Pilsner, it would probably be as close to the winner of this award as possible; and that is Panhead Port Road Pilsner (5.2%).

I’m not really much of a Pilsner drinker, but if I find myself making exceptions, it’s usually for this beer.

Feel Good Hit of the Summer Award for Best Light, Wheat or ‘Sessionable’ Thing

Eagle eyed readers will note that I already gave this award out months ago. That was back when I thought I’d give seasonal awards progressively over the year, rather than in one big orgy at the end. So once again, the winner is 8 Wired Haywired (4.6%)

Haywired

Now, not all of my awards are going to beers. I think it’s also important to give awards to the people and places and things that make the beer community special. So in that regard:

The Special Award for Services to My Alcoholism (A.K.A. Best Beer Bar Award)

Now this is tricky. I’ve stated before that Hashigo Zake is in my opinion, the best beer bar in New Zealand. But something about my personality won’t allow me to give this award to a bar I’ve worked at. So that means Hashigo is out, and Golding’s is too. Seeing as I didn’t travel much in New Zealand this year, that leaves…

The Rogue and Vagabond

I sense this is a controversial choice, but one I’m sticking to. I’ve heard a lot of criticism towards the Rogue, and I think a lot of it is valid *cough* bathrooms *cough*. But still I spend a hell of a lot more time there than I do at pretty much any other bar. The reasons are multiple: first of all, the staff are always trying to get me drunk. But I also get a sense of Gemütlichkeit whenever I go there. It’s got more character in each of its slightly uncomfortable barstools than all the Residences, Brus on Cuba, The Georges, or Curry Clubs of Wellington put together.

The ‘Doing Bad Cornish Accent Whilst Drunk’ Award for Best Cider

The world of New Zealand cider is a dark and scary place, populated by people with unconvincing Swedish accents and a race of weird anthropomorphic animals, who appear cute, but I’m pretty sure if we turned our backs on them for even a moment, they’d pull off their faces to reveal a race of alien space-lizards that will devour us whole.

It’s with this in mind, that I thank all known deities for Peckham’s. They’re lovely people, who make lovely cider. My particular cider of the year is the Wild Fermented Kingston Black (5.8%). Thank you Peckham’s. If I ever develop Celiacs I’m going to move in next door to you.

The Emerson’s Special Award for Selling Out

Oh don’t look at me like that. That’s exactly what Emerson’s did: they SOLD THEIR OWNERSHIP to Lion. That is the literal definition of selling out. Anyway, I bring up the Lion connection because it’s pertinent. But I’m going to get to that in a moment, because I’m going to start with the runner up:

BrewDog

Yes, when I heard they had NZ distribution I went “Aww YES!” Then when I heard it was with Independent Liquor (Asahi’s bastard child), and saw BrewDog plastered all over some of the worst bars of Wellington, I said “Aww NO!” I would have been willing to forgive them for the sake of the beer, but it’s not even traveled well. The only ones that still taste good are Hardcore and Dogma, but even then it’s not worth it for how much you have to pay and how unsatisfying the whole experience is. Every time I walk past The Residence or Bru on Cuba, with their BrewDog logos plastered everywhere, I just can’t help thinking about John Lydon shilling butter.

Back to Emerson’s now. You might think I get angry when the big boys try and play in the craft sector, but I don’t. For the most part it just makes me laugh; watching Monteith’s pretend they’ve invented dry-hopping, or Pinot-aging beer or whatever.

And you know who else is laughing? Lion. Because they’ve shown us exactly how a corporate brewer should get involved in the craft sector: Purchase a beloved brewing company, and then busily set about doing pretty much nothing to it. What you shouldn’t do is buy up a brewery, replace all the beers with pretty much your own product and put them in bottles that are pretty much identical to your existing range.

That’s right, this award goes to Founders. Yet another thing Independent Liquor/Boundary Road/Asahi has buggered up this year. Taking out first AND second place. Well done you, Foundry Road.

I get the feeling that narrow, sans serif fonts are all this Boundary Road's Designer knows how to use.

I get the feeling that narrow, sans serif fonts are all Boundary Road’s Designer knows how to use.

The Stout, Porter or Other Dark Award for Beers The Same Colour As My Soul

I agonized a little over this one. It’s possibly a case of too many great contenders. I wanted to give it to a few of my old favourites: Renaissance Elemental, Cassel’s Milk Stout, or Three Boys Oyster Stout, Invercargill Pitch Black. But that felt like choosing which of my beloved children was my favourite. In the end I felt like I should give this award to a newcomer, and I chose Kereru For Great Justice Coconut Porter (4.5%). I think if there is one thing Kereru has nailed it’s the <5% dark beer. Both FGJ and it’s unflavoured brother, Moonless Stout, are pretty much as perfect as any dark beer can be.

I find this equal parts cute and perplexing.

I find this equal parts cute and perplexing.

Die Lederhosen-Freizone Preis für den besten Bierfest

The award for best beer festival I attended in 2013 pretty much has to go to Hashigo Zake’s Pacific Beer Expo, after the rave review I posted recently. And so it does. Well done PBE!

The Irish Suntan Award for Paleness

I agonised pretty hard over exactly which Pale Ale to give this coveted award to. So in the end I said ‘fuck it: I’m giving it to the entire style category.’ That’s right, if you’re a brewer who’s made a good beer that’s ~5%, hop driven, with a decent malt backbone, you win. Not just this award either, but at beer in general.

Seriously, Pale Ales are the in-thing, and not just right now, but (if America is anything to go by) for the foreseeable future. At Golding’s and Hashigo, they’re the only thing that consistently sells faster than Pilsner. They’re pretty much a licence to print money.

Recipients of this award include, but are not limited to:

– Tuarara APA (both versions)
– Panhead Supercharger
– ParrotDog DeadCanary
– Townshend APA
– Croucher Pale Ale
– Epic Pale Ale
– Funk Estate Oh Lordy!
– Liberty Oh Brother
– Behemoth Chur!
– Garage Project Trip Hop
– Brew Moon IPA
– Hallertau Statesman

Feel free to mentally add beer I’ve missed here.

The Tey-Tappers Special Award for Best Beer Writer

I don’t often read a lot of New Zealand beer writing. This is mostly because, working in the industry, I’ve already heard most of it before the print deadline hits. There are however, a couple of exceptions.

Runner up for this award goes to Jono Galuszka, for his rather pleasant From Drinker to Brewer series and for bringing a little beer enlightenment to the murkier sections of the North Island. Jono hits the right tone between geeky and accessible. Well done Jono.

Jono

Possibly most handsome Beer Writer award too. You decide…
Source.

And the winner is: Matt Rilkoff.

Yup, that right. The man who describes craft beer as ‘petulant’, ‘complex and haughty’ and ‘prohibitively expensive’. The guy who thinks Tiger is the be all and end all of beer. The one who fellates any company that sends him free beer. The chap who barely seem to like any kind of beer that’s not limp, boring lager. The fellow who doesn’t even seem to like drinking beer and writing about it. Yup. That’s my beer writer of the year.

Here’s my favourite Rilkoff quote:

“Professional beer tasting is often a lonely job. Far from having People flock to you for beer tips, they resent you for the beer you get to drink and castigate you if you show anything but absolute reverence for craft beer. It’s tough.”

Um… No mate, it’s not. You’re getting paid to drink beer and writing about it. If you’re not enjoying that, then as the actress said to the Bishop: You’re doing it wrong. You’re missing the point so hard, it’s surprising the Americans haven’t offered you a job as their Bomber Command.

Now having said that, Rilkoff is genuinely my beer writer of the year, because I seriously enjoy his writing. Sometimes I feel guilty about that, because I suspect it’s a mild form of Schadenfreude that I’m experiencing. But since he’s not actually suffering misfortunes here (in fact he’s being paid to write about beer… seriously mate, if you don’t like doing it, I’ll do it for you), then I feel I can laugh at his columns without being an asshole.

(Un)Fortunately, it seems that most of the Taranaki Daily News’ beer writing is now done by Warwick Foy; who is much more qualified (in that he enjoys, well, flavours). But don’t ever want Rilkoff to stop writing about beer. He’s just too enjoyable to read.

The IPA Award for Services to the Hop Shortage

This again, was a very tough award to give. The reason is just too many worthy candidates. After a little soul searching though, I came up with an answer. The award goes to not one beer, but a series of them: Twisted Hop Hopback Series (5.8%).

This is an NZ Cascade-based beer, that uses different American hops in the different editions. The base beer is lovely, but the Citra, Simcoe, Centennial and Chinook editions each have their own unique charms. Then there’s the Double Hopback (8%) an imperialised version which reminds me of a super-juicy American Barleywine.

I will say that I would like to see some slightly dirtier, more bitter and angry, non-c-type hop versions of this beer (eg Sauvin). But over all, I award the Hopback series for it’s balance between being geeky as hell, yet still all excellent IPAs.

The Moa Special Award for Biggest Dick Move of 2013

In such a small industry, it would be nice if we could all be friends, but the reality is, that’s not always going to be the case. I’ve seen a fair amount of dickish behavior from industry people. Moa should probably be awarded this trophy indefinitely, having a virtual monopoly on being a dick in the craft beer industry. But that would also be like shooting fish in a barrel and as global fish populations are under threat right now, I’m not going to do that.

Anyway, I think the biggest dick moves are ones that undermine the ethos and integrity of the craft industry as whole. We are small companies fighting for market share against big corporations. We are supposed to help each other out, not dick each other over. As Soren Eriksen once explained it to me (in his sexy Danish accent):

“In the craft beer industry, it’s not about getting a bigger piece of the pie; it’s about growing the pie. As the pie gets bigger, each of our pieces gets bigger.

This is the ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ attitude. In this regard, when a craft-beer company wants to expand, they should look for unexploited niches and opportunities, they should collaborate with others around them, or they should build upon and expand their current operations. What they shouldn’t do is look at someone else’s piece of the pie and say “I’ll have that!” and try to hack off a chunk before anyone notices.

Yeah I’m looking at you, Tuatara. Trying to steal Rogue distribution off of Beer Without Borders/Hashigo Zake. A local brewery trying to increase business by importing and distributing beer from overseas? That’s cool. Importing and distributing a brewery that’s already legitimately being brought into the country by another dedicated craft beer distributor? That’s not cool. That’s a dick move.

The Pucker-Up Award for Best Sour Beer

I’m going to start with the runner up here: Mussel Inn Lean Lamb (4%). It’s weird, dirty, bacterial, borderline disgusting and fucking sour. Love it.

The Winner: Liberty/Zeffer How do You Like Dem Apples (10%). I like tart cider, I like sour beer. Dem Apples is pretty much the best of both worlds. 

The “Am I Drunk Yet?” Award for Best Strong/Imperial/Strong Belgian/Whatever Beer

This one goes to 8 Wired Grand Cru (10%). There’s nothing I can say about it that I haven’t already said here.

DSC_0686

It’s laughing at me. I want to brush my teeth with it.

The Bastard Upstart Award for Best New Brewery.

To the uninitiated, it probably would seem like the winner of this award has appeared out of nowhere, making a varied range of excellent beers that can be found all over Wellington. Industry insiders on the other hand, have known the brewer for quite a few years.

Still it amazes me sometimes that six months ago I ever managed to fill a balanced tap lineup without Panhead Brewery. When they opened, I had suddenly at my disposal, a brewery with a slick image and branding, reliable delivery, instant popularity, and most importantly, great beer. If I was religious I’d forgive myself for thinking they’re the second coming of Christ.

Mike from Panhead is not Jesus, but he does have a nice beard.

Mike from Panhead is not Jesus, but he does have a nice beard.

Speaking of which:

The “Jesus-Rollerblading-Christ!” Award for Single Pint of Beer I Enjoyed The Most.

So named after the exclamation I made whilst drinking it. I wanted to give this award to the bottle of Lagunitas IPA I drank whilst sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge.

P1020780

This was pretty fuckin’ sweet.

But there was one other beer I enjoyed more; that made me shout “Jesus-Rollerblading-Christ, that’s fucking good!”

It was a pint of Townshend Black Arrow Pilsner (5%). It was at Hashigo in the middle of Summer, I’d just come from an hours worth of strenuous Charlestoning, I was exhausted and sweaty and I think the whole pint only lasted thirty seconds.

The Green Bean Saison Award for Fruit/Spiced/Flavoured/Otherwise Meddled With Beer

Choosing a winner for this award was tricky, as we had two gangs breweries each with a gaggle of experimentally flavoured beers. On one side, there’s Yeastie Boys, with it’s posse of serious-faced tea-beers, led by the charismatic Gunnamatta (6.5%). Opposing them was Garage Project with their ethnic mob of chilli beers, fronted by their spicy leader, Day of the Dead (6%). And choosing a winner from this lot is like watching a gang knife-fight, in that no one’s the winner, or in our case, everyone’s the winner in the end.

Short of an actual knife-fight between brewers, which I’m sure we don’t want, I’m going to settle the matter by awarding thus:

Runner Up to Yeastie Boys Wendy (6.5%), the Belgian tea stout. The winner goes to Garage Project Venusian Pale Ale (7.5%). Those being the two beers from the lot I actually want to drink the most of.

Awesome poster, too.

Awesome poster, too.

The Old-Hand Award for Best Established Brewery

I like to think of the winner of this award as the (slightly) older chap in the corner, who very quietly does what he does and does it very well, whilst the young guns (usually contractors) are standing around making a hullabaloo about their big, outrageous beers. Then once in a while, when he feels like it, he gets up, takes them all outside and shows them all how it’s done.

I’m talking about Renaissance Brewing, that reliable (relatively) old workhorse who we don’t always pay enough attention to. They make a range of really great beers that we don’t see on tap as often as we should. then every now and again, they whip out something truly amazing, like their annual Tribute Barleywine (10%), their Age of Raisin (6.5%), or their Scotch on Rye (4.5%).

Renaissance won Champion Brewer at last years BrewNZ awards (which I totally called). And I honestly think they deserve it. I love those guys so much.

The Renaissance crew at the BrewNZ Awards. Yes, their Brewer Andy wears a kilt.

The Renaissance crew at the BrewNZ Awards. Yes, their Brewer Andy wears a kilt.

The Bottleneck’s Beer of the Year

The beer I enjoyed the most this year, is probably the same beer I enjoy the most every year. If I had a beer-soulmate, it would probably be this beer. It’s the only beer I drank three pints of in a row, something I never do when I had the option of drinking something else.

It’s 8 Wired ReWired Brown Ale (5.7%).

Not an exciting, obvious or even perhaps deserving choice. It’s just a beer I really, really like. Yeah I know that’s terrible consumer advice. Kind of illustrates the pointlessness of personal blog awards, really…

Oh well, too late. You’ve read it now.

The Tauranga Beer Scene

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “This’ll be a short post”. But stick around, because you may, against your better judgement, find yourself in Tauranga and knowing where the beer is at can often turn a bad visit to a city into a good one.

Certainly I had low expectations when I went for my annual pilgrimage to my ancestral homelands (that is to say, my folk’s house) for Christmas. Tauranga has always had the meanest skerrick of a beer scene, in the form of one brewpub, Brewers Bar in Mount Maunganui, and one of those ubiquitous Belgian Cafés that charge you $14 for a Leffe Blonde. But this year, I had something new to look forward to: Croucher has recently opened a its second brewbar on The Strand, the ‘heart’ of Tauranga’s ‘nightlife’.

Brew Exterior

c/o Brew’s FB page.

So it was that on Christmas Eve-Eve, I rocked up to Brew Tauranga, and was immediately and immensely pleased to discover they had taken over the old Coyote bar. IMG_20131224_153315There used to be several Coyote bars around New Zealand, all of which (I’m reliably informed) were amongst the worst, most feral nightclubs in the country. I’ve only been ‘out on the town’ once in Tauranga, and did indeed visit Coyote’s and found it utterly awful. So with an enormous degree of satisfaction, I approached the bar, where I had previously drunk Jägerbombs and ordered a craft beer.

IMG_20131224_153408Now I have a reservation about brewpubs: for the most part, you can pretty much only drink the beers of one brewery, and if that brewery doesn’t make a balanced range of beers, then barring guest taps, you’re a little screwed for tap selection. At Brew however this was not a problem. First of all, Croucher makes a pretty excellent and balanced range of interesting beers. Secondly, of the twelve taps they had, six were Croucher, six were guest. Doing it right. I also took a peak in the fridge and saw a good selection of local and international bottles. I even heard a rumour they’re getting an off licence.

IMG_20131224_153346Mechanically, Brew does very well: They have a nice beer menu, which was concise and easy to read. I put a few questions to the staff and their beer knowledge was sufficiently sound. So in terms of the art of being a beer-bar, Brew does very well.

I am plagued however, with a need to criticise and in this regard, I do have to say that Brew’s environment is rather, shall we say, uninspiring. Not awfully much has been done to the interior, besides a new coat of paint and new partitions. The bones of Coyote show through rather starkly in places.

Some things, have in fact not changed at all...  This is the old Coyote logo stamped on all the chairs. I actually founf this kind of cute.

Some things, have in fact not changed at all…
This is the old Coyote logo stamped on the chairs. I actually found this kind of cute.

They’ve also done the standard Mac’s bar thing of having a brewery mural on the wall, but it’s a bit sort of, well, grey and depressing really.

I find this less 'Funky Fubist Brewery' and more 'Eastern-Bloc Soviet Factory'. How many Ukrainian peasants died for my beer?

I find this less ‘Funky Cubist Brewery’ and more ‘Eastern-Bloc Soviet Factory’. Makes me wonder how many Ukrainian peasants died for my beer?

A few beery themed pictures and some hop-vines provide a respectable beer bar veneer that doesn’t entirely cover it’s club heritage (speaking of which, I wouldn’t like to be there late of a Saturday night. Or anywhere on the Strand for that matter).

But having said that, I can wholeheartedly recommend Brew. It’s a matter of context: Sitting in what used to be one of the worst clubs I’ve ever been to, the smell of Tauranaga harbour (a mixture of salt and rotting sea cabbage) drifting past; good company in the form of an old school friend and most importantly a good beer in hand, I can’t help but feel sanguine. I’ll take it as a sign of the times, and of the future too. Good beer is heading for the mainstream. It’s not there yet, but Brew is as important to the progress of in industry as any of the beer bars of Wellington. And in that regard, I love it.

And that was I thought, the only beer spot worth visiting in Tauranga. That was until we went for our obligatory Boxing Day walk around The Mount, to make us feel less like fat sacks of crap for eating a kg of ham the day before. Cruising down Maunganui Road, we passed a place called Mount Brewing Company. I had to stop and go in. It was compulsory.IMG_20131226_132305

You’ll remember at the start of this screed, I mentioned The Mount had an obscure brew pub. It’s never really been on my radar though, for two reasons. First of all, it’s in a semi-industrial area inconveniently far away from anything of interest. Second of all, I went there once, about four years ago and it was, well, a bit shit. Half the beers weren’t pouring and the Pislner I had tasted mysteriously of cornchips.1

My suspicion was that Brewers Bar had shifted, had a facelift or opened a second venue. This was confirmed almost immediately, when I recognised a number of beers on tap. That could have been grounds for buggering off right then and there, but my sixth sense (AKA my good bar-sense) was tingling, so I decided to give it a go and had a beer.

I ordered an APA. It was pale orange, super peachy (vaguely reminiscent of Sculpin IPA) and came in a mason jar with a handle. Win.IMG_20131226_125341

It was also had a slight touch of creaminess to it, which could have been diacetyl, or could have come from crystal/caramel malts. But that was by no means a deal breaker. It was a lovely beer. I also tried a little of the ‘Certified Shaggy’ Ale, which I took to be some sort of ESB-ish thing, but later turned out to be a Dunkle. Wait, wouldn’t that make it a lager? Who’s counting anyway?2

So the beer was good. The ambience was nice too. Like Brew it felt like it was taking cues from Mac’s bars, this time erring towards the more colourful and with a beachy-twist. The tap lineup was fairly mainstream but pleasantly varied and Good George even made an unexpected appearance on the guest taps.

I had a brief chat to the staff. They were friendly, and confirmed that the place is pretty new, and tied to the older Brewers Bar that I had been to previously. I also quizzed them a little on the beers and they seemed to know what they were talking about. In fact, the only thing they couldn’t tell me was why some of the bar’s logos said “Since 2006”, whilst others said “Since 1996”.

THIS IS NOT ADEQUATELY EXPLAINED!

THIS IS NOT ADEQUATELY EXPLAINED!

Decade-long discrepancies in their history aside, I like Mount Brewing Co. a lot. Unfortunately I only had time that day for one beer, but I would very much like to go back. That was in fact the last of the beery adventures I had in Tauranga. I would have liked to have dropped in on Fitzpatrick’s Brewing, but time, effort, and a cold curtailed any further exploration. If I could summaries the Tauranga beer, I’d say it falls somewhere between ‘undiscovered gem’ and ‘diamond in the rough’ (undiscovered gem in the rough?). 

Either way, it’s hugely promising for the future of the New Zealand beer scene outside of the established beer-centres.


1. Interestingly, no brewer has ever been able to explain what causes this. Is it a malt thing? An infection? A yeast byproduct? Dirty lines? I’d love to know. 

2. Actually, I am!