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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”

Review: RB Rooms

On Saturday I made the rather bad decision to go to the Black Caps versus South Africa game at Eden Park. It was cold, we lost and the most interesting thing that happened was a fat man in a Waikato shirt and a Queen Liz mask ran up and down every aisle of the stadium. And, of course, there was no decent beer.

Luckily the day was not a complete loss. Martin Bridges, Auckland SOBA organiser and general haver of great ideas, suggested meeting at Sandringham’s The RB (Rugby Buildings) for some pre-match bevies. It was a great idea and I would freely and enthusiastically recommend a trip to The RB. The building itself is delightful – it has the air of someone trying to convert their house to a bar and getting most of the way there, then decided they’d rather just chill out – which gives it a nice, relaxed atmosphere. Downstairs there are small tables and a comfortable couch next to the small bar. Upstairs it’s sort of been knocked through, so the rooms are almost open plan and there’s another small bar. (One of the upstairs tables has a particularly good feature – you can see the Eden Park noticeboard, and check if the cricket is going ahead).

The staff were relaxed and friendly. They joked, they were informative and they didn’t take offence when I said I didn’t drink Moa. Their knowledge of the beer was more customer-based than knowledge-based (as in, they know so-and-so normally drinks that particular beer), but this was quite nice – it just added to the neighbourhood local feeling they have going on.

The food was amazing. The roasted vege salad was fresh and full of flavour, and as much as I enjoyed it, I was still jealous of my friends’ choices – a massive sausage roll and golden fish pies – particularly when they told me how delicious it was. To go with the tasty food, they also have tasty beers. There’s the full range of Moa beers, if you’re that way inclined, but even better they have five Yeastie Boys beers in bottle and a couple of Epics. I chose the Hud-a-wa as my pre-match beer and was blown away. I’m not sure whether it was a new batch or perhaps fresh is not best, but this Hud-a-wa tasted amazing – slightly sweet, but balanced and moreish. Then, for my it’s-still-raining beer I had a PKB, which was chocolately goodness in a glass. (I think I’ll put ‘drink more Yeastie Boys’ on my to-do list).

If you’re after a pre-, post- or during match beer, I heartily recommend The RB. It’ll buoy you up if you’re (quite rightly) worried about the Black Caps losing, or soothe away the pain when they (inevitably) lose. I also assume it’d be wonderful for other (more cheerful) sporting events, or even just as an event in itself.

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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