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:


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:


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.


4 thoughts on “Lager Roundup

  1. That new Gizzy Gold label just descends into randomised Beer Label Word Salad. Toasted maltiness, in a pale lager? A hop back-bone? Isn’t the malt usually cast in that role? And how are the hop aromas hovering over the allegedly-also-hop back-bone, anyway..?

    But yes, the secret to happiness — in beer as in everything — is often low expectations. (I say this as someone who unironically enjoyed plural VBs yesterday.)

  2. Geoff was a big surfer (I don’t think you can grow up in Gisborne without being one) but he ended up with an ear problem (or possibly a leg problem: I’ll have to dig up my notes (he says with the hope that he took some notes) to jog my memory) which lead him to become a big surf photographer (not a photographer of big surf, mind). Which reminds me, I really must sort out my photos from Sunshine.

  3. Pingback: A Beer Review, With Added Rant | The Bottleneck

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