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Golden Pints

It’s been a big year of beers, beer events, and beer news. We’re all looking back at the year that was and making plans for the year that will be. For us beer writers, it’s time for the Golden Pints, an entirely unscientific process that involves reaching back into so fairly foggy memories and trying to decide what our favourites of the year were. It’s bound to put more emphasis on more recent beers and inevitably some great beers will be forgotten. Continue reading “Golden Pints”

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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.

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