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December 2011

Beer Storage

I have a small problem. Due to the generosity of my friends, a few impulse buys and leaving the house for beer events, my beer supply is building up. How can this be a problem? you ask. The problem is that I’m flatting, with all the restrictions that apply in that situation. I have one shelf in the fridge and one in the pantry and they’re filled with food (I like to bake and the ingredients and paraphernalia take up a lot of room). I could keep it on the shelf with my flatmates’ wine, but said shelf gets quite a bit of light (the ancient nemesis of hops).

As a result, all of my beer is stored in a cardboard box at the foot of my bed. It works fairly well – there’s no major fluctuations in temperature, the box keeps out a lot of light and neither of my flatmates knows that it’s there (introducing them to great beer may have been a mistake). But I can’t help but be a little jealous of  my friend Tom, who has room in his garage for a deep freeze that is set to chill, or my Dad, who has a basement that is naturally cool. Then, this morning, I made the mistake of putting ‘beer storage’ into Google and became starting dreaming outrageously of a time when I’m free of flatmates and possess money and room. Here are my top three beer storage dreams:

3) Storing in Style

This odd-looking fridge was designed by Stefan Buchberger and it’s original purpose was to prevent fights between flatmates by segregating their food. I think it would be much better utilised as a beer fridge, with separate compartments at the right temperatures for different beer.

2) Going Natural

A beer cave. The ultimate in natural beer storage. Or not so natural in the photo above – the cave is actually an abandoned goldmine in Colorado. Beer storage and history? That’s double cool points in my book.

1) Custom-made

I wanted to have a photo here of an amazing beer fridge I thought I saw at the Auckland Food Show, from Vintec, which had different shelves at different temperatures. However, when I went on their website, there wasn’t any such fridge and I began to think it was just a cheese sampling induced dream. So I put ‘beer’ in their product search – the only fridge that came back had a maximum temperature of 10C, which isn’t ideal for a Stout-lover. In fact, there weren’t many fancy beer fridges that could be revealed by a cursory search on the net. It seems, that as in many things, the beer geek needs to be independent and innovative. Much like the guy in the video below.

While his fridge is for storage and home brewing, I think this might be close to my dream fridge – custom-made to fit into my house and with handy serving taps. Now I just need the money for the house and the installation – not to mention the beer! It’s a good thing dreams are free.


Awesome Beer Month (Part Two)

As I said in my previous post, I’m in the middle of an Awesome Beer Month. After the bar crawl, Western Brewers Conference and the launch of Crouchers Reserve Ale at Galbraiths, more beery goodness arrived.

Nøgne Ø Tasting
A few days after the Crouchers’ cask ale launch, I was extremely lucky to be back at Galbraiths for a tasting of Nøgne Ø beers and to hear from Nøgne Ø’s head brewer, Kjetil Jikiun. There was so many awesome things about this event that it deserves its own post, but I’ll keep it brief and save most of the details for the next issue of Pursuit of Hoppiness.

The event in and of itself was awesome. Kjetil took us told us a bit about Nøgne Ø’s history and principles, namely quality of materials and product; maintaining a diverse range of beers; and adherence to style, without watering down flavours for market consumption. They’d recently added another principle, which was not being extreme for the sake of it – they’d like people to finish a bottle of Nøgne Ø and be hankering after another. After the introduction, the beer sampling began with a farmyard Saison, followed by a delightfully fruity Pale Ale and a chocolatey Porter (that received a silver at the WBC). Then the big guns, in both flavour and alcohol, came out. Both the Imperial Brown Ale and IPA were very well balanced, with a coating bitterness and rich malt flavours. Then the really big guns (canons even) were loaded. #100 was Nøgne Ø’s hundredth brew and, if it did have a style, it would probably be an Dark Imperial IPA. It was beautiful, very dark red, with gorgeous highlights when you held it up to the light, and complex – my taste buds kept finding different notes to be happy about. Then there was the Imperial Stout, very toasty and very, very dark – a lot like a Twisted Hop Nokabollokov. If you can get your hands on either of these beers, I’d highly recommend trying them – the #100 is currently on tap at Galbriaths and Dave-the-bar-manager has a keg of Imperial Stout hidden away out the back, so keep your ears open.

That such an event should take place in New Zealand (let alone Auckland) is amazing. Big credit to Dominic from Hashigo Zake, who organised for Kjetil to come out and be involved in several tastings and two collaborative brews. Dominic imports Nøgne Ø beers (as well as many others) and he does a great job of balancing an appreciation for local brews, as well as ones from overseas, seeing the two as complementary, rather than competing. And even bigger credit to Kjetil! Anyone who’s attempted the NZ to Europe jaunt knows it is an incredible long haul, particularly for only five days in NZ. I’m really glad he made the trip though and I hope he enjoyed his time here. New Zealand must be a pretty cool place to have such an attraction to people.
Beer of the Event: tie between #100 and the Imperial Stout

My Birthday
Yes, it’s self-centred to include my birthday, but is truly was chock full of beer-awesome-ness. I got three beer books, two bottles of my favourite brews (Bookbinder and Mike’s Imperial Porter) and had one of those nights were every beer you have is excellent. I started out at Galbraiths with a Croucher Reserve Ale (still good, but quickly running out), a Norge O #100 (also still good and wonderfully boozy) and a Old Burton IPA, which is very English, soft and lovely. Then, across the road at The Corner Store, was the Twisted Hop IPA, which had a lovely fruity flavour I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Not tropical or citrusy, maybe more stonefruit? Whatever it was, it was moreish. Then, I had a Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude.

Now, I’ve never managed more than one sip of Rex before, but as I was drinking with the Yeastie Boys themselves, the politeness my mother beat into me as a child kicked in and I started drinking the offered glass. And it was wonderful! I’ve always said it smells like building boats, a mix of wood with something more processed or chemical (to me, this isn’t a bad thing). I can now maintain it takes like a forest. I’m not sure how to elaborate on that. It tastes like how it feels to stand in the New Zealand bush.
One of the best birthdays I’ve ever had and thanks to everyone who was lovely to me.
Beer of the Event: too many to choose.

The Future
And the Awesome Beer Month isn’t over for me yet! On Friday, the Brewery Britomart are launching their in-house beers; Monday, there’s a launch of Dale Holland’s beers at Galbraiths; Thursday, Epic are combining a launch of their new Larger beer with their sixth birthday party at O’Carrolls; and on  Saturday, there’s a Guild event.

If, I survive all of that, there’s Christmas and the Dad and mine’s Great Christmas Beer Tasting. It really is a good time to be a beer geek in New Zealand.

Awesome Beer Weeken- No, Make it a month. Awesome Beer Month (Part One)

Originally this post was about a single weekend that included a couple of delicious and delightful beer events. Then there were a few more great beer events, so I decided to make it about a good beer week. Then there were MORE beer events. Basically now is an excellent time to be a beer geek in New Zealand and in particular in Auckland. Here’s why (with examples):

Choice (both in the Queen’s English and the local vernacular)
Awesome Beer Month started with the arrival in Auckland of Greig McGill, secretary of SOBA and the most well-known Hamiltonian in the world.  As per usual, Greig insisted on inspected the local craft beer scene with a pub crawl. We visited four bars – SkySport Grill, Suite, The Brewery Britomart and O’Carrolls – each with their own personality and a good selection of beers. Such selection in fact, I was able to stick to dark beers pretty much the whole night. This is more impressive when you add into the equation that we only repeated one of the six bars that we visited last time there was a Grieg-induced bar crawl.
Beer of the Event: Croucher Raspberrybock. While not a crowd favourite, I loved the raspberry-tart versus the malt-sweet. Reminded me of my favourite dark chocolate and raspberry cupcakes.

A Community of Experimentation
The day after the bar crawl, a hiccup of home brewers gathered at Hallertau for the Western Brewers Conference.  This quarter the style was NZ Pale Ale, not only a very popular style (there were 17 entries), but also one that’s quite young, so there was a fair amount of experimentation with hop varieties.  The winner had dry hopped with Wai-iti, second place used a lot of Kohatu and third NZ employed Cascade. This variety provided a lot of healthy debate, with one competitor describing the Kohatu flavour as similar to a pineapple that has been down your trousers, but that’s the fun of it. It was also great to see so many relatively new brewers walking away with honours – Brent, who took out third, has only been brewing for a few months and this was his first WBC. Not only is there a friendly, competitive homebrew community, but we’ve also got some world-class judges to help guide us along. With such a big field, it was reassuring to have the knowledge of Luke Nicholas, Kelly Ryan, Joseph Wood, and Steve Ploughman to sort through the entries and give everyone feedback.
Beer of the Event: Hamish’s first-place NZ Pale Ale. Absolutely stunning, flawless and drinkable, it was marked 49 out of 50.

Recognising Awesome People 
After only a day off from some seriously good beer, the Auckland beer crowd were back into it with the release of the latest Galbraiths Cask Ale series. Not only did we get the chance to taste another marvellous collaboration beer – this time Croucher’s Pale Ale – but there was also the largest gathering of brewers Auckland’s ever seen: Croucher’s Nigel and Paul, 8Wired’s Soren (in town to brew his own cask beer), Liberty’s Jo, and Emerson’s Richard. I have to admit, some Aucklanders were a little star-struck.  In addition to out-of-town guests, we had the chance to thank our Auckland SOBA leader, Martin Bridges, for his time representing Auckland on the SOBA committee and for, well, carolling the us into some semblance of an organisation. Personally, I really like it when people who do the hard yards (like Martin does) get recognised, so it was great.
Beer of the Event: Croucher-Galbraiths Pale Ale. So. Freaking. Drinkable. Perfect amount of hoppiness, so smooth and (as much as I hate this expression) thirst-quenching. I wish it would last until summer, but I know it won’t. It’ll be gone before you know it, so get down to Galbraiths now.

Well, that’s enough goodness for one post, stay tuned for Part Two.

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