Beer Diary Podcast episode 8: Strong Beer

Welcome back and Happy New Year, everyone. My profuse apologies for the inadvertent summer hiatus — it’s ordinarily a stay indoors and hide from the heat and sunshine kind of time for me, mostly, but this year it just rather got away from me. Not in a bad way, at all, but an unintended effect was that the podcast which we intended would be a nice lead-up to Holiday Season imbibing has been held back until now. It’s entirely my fault — George is a diligent producer and does hassle me on your behalf, I assure you.

So anyway, inspired by the impending holidays — impending, that is, when we recorded — we have a little bit of a ramble about Strong Beer (partially also to balance the ledger after our Midstrength Beer episode). There are a lot of ways to be a strong beer, and equally-many reasons to enjoy one. And then there’s a fair amount of silliness in the field, too. But the point remains: there’s a beer for every occasion that might otherwise bring wine or whisky to the front of your mind.

As always, a direct download is available, there’s a podcast-specific RSS feed, and you should be able to get us on iTunesGeorge and myself can also both be reached on the Twitterthing.

Liberty 'C!tra' and Twisted Hop 'Red Zone Enigma'

Beers of the Week

Liberty 'C!tra', blurb

Liberty 'C!tra', blurb

Twisted Hop 'Red Zone Enigma'

Twisted Hop 'Red Zone Enigma', blurb

Samuel Adams 'Utopias'

Samuel Adams 'Utopias'

BrewDog 'Tactical Nuclear Penguin'

BrewDog 'Tactical Nuclear Penguin', unwrapped

Epic Larger and Lager

Epic 'Larger' and Epic Lager

Show notes:

  • (0.45) Well, it’s been a while for you now, too, as I pre-emptively apologised for, above. The timing of the Beer Diary entries are a frequent cause of puzzlement, so I’ve taken New Years Resolution-esque steps to make them a little more reader-friendly and a little less puzzling. They always made sense in my head, but many objectively-mad things often seem to do so.
  • (1.50) Midstrength beer was a little while ago.
  • (2.45) Winter beer was also a little while ago. Slightly moreso, in fact.
  • (3.20) Beer of the Week #1: Liberty ‘C!tra’. A sure-fire giveaway of me being a rather-appalling typography nerd is that I occasionally call an exclamation mark a “bang” — partially because that old practice today survives mostly in the name of my absolute-favourite punctuation mark, the interrobang (which also serves as my Twitter avatar / general logo-thing), and the rather-awesome shebang from the world of programming.1
  • (7.05) Martyn Cornell’s long-form history-dredging myth-busting posts are always a good read — if you’re into that sort of thing, and I am — and his one on Imperial Stout is no exception.
  • (7.55) Epic’s ‘LARGER’ is the reference on my mind, here; its Wellington launch-party was in preparation as we recorded this. It turned out to be a real hoot — and not quite the absolute carnage that a suprisingly-drinkable 8.5% lager might imply.
  • (8.45) Beer festivals, compared to ‘Midstrength beer’ and ‘Winter beer’, was not very long ago at all. But a while ago from here. See? Time is all sorts of relative.
  • (10.20) ‘Strong beer’ and ‘expensive beer’ are fairly tightly correlated. Especially in a place like New Zealand, where the tax take is levied proportionately to booze, not just volume. But — and I say this as a member of a criminally-underpaid profession — one of the enduring charms about beer is this relative accessibility. Even the stupid-money end of the scale is much more within grab than the equivalent corners of, say, the wine or whisky markets.
  • (14.50) To lift entirely a note from the Midstrength beer episode and thereby weirdly quote myself: “In New Zealand, beer under 1.15% attracts no excise tax; anything 1.15% – 2.5% is subject to 38.208¢ per litre of beverage; and all beer 2.5% and over is levied at $25.476 per litre of alcohol.”
  • (15.00) Just to check in with Mr Google: “Imperial IPA” will get you more than a million hits, while “Imperial APA” brings in a relatively-poor 25,000-odd.
  • (17.30) Inevitably, Martyn Cornell has covered this, too. You really should read him more often, if you don’t, whoever you are.
  • (20.10) Garage Project’s American Barleywine, ‘Hellbender’, was a delicious thing, and a marvellous excuse for a good-natured nerdfight.
  • (21.20) As a little tour of that particular corner of the Strong Beer world, I really do recommend that you punch out a whole Trappist Dance Card at least once in your life.
  • (22.45) Beer of the Week #2: Twisted Hop ‘Red Zone Enigma’. I’m obviously way late for Christmas present recommendations, to the point where I’ve just clocked it and become way early. Myself and a few other local beer-people appeared in a short segment on Radio New Zealand’s ‘Summer Report’ where we raised the possibility of substituting-in a lovely big bottle of beer for the usual grape-juice-descended options — it’s difficult to directly link to, but filed under ‘Sparkling new beers may replace traditional bubbles’.
  • (24.40) The iStout-through-a-Tim-Tam-straw suggestion came from a chap on the Twitters by the name of Dave Ellis. I only know him (so far; Hello!) in his Twittering capacity, but he’s clearly some sort of genius. George has got his Tim Tam History somewhat askew; a Chit Chat is a kind of knock-off copycat of a Tim Tam — but they were, themselves, apparently stolen from / “inspired by” a Penguin biscuit.
  • (26.40) Adelaide beer blogger Aaron Caruana shares my Bletchley Park obsession — and, helpfully, went there recently and took lovely photos. Our brewing aspirations languished after a few dead batches. My moderate Canberra-based successes did not translate down to my Melbourne apartment, for some reason. Purple was definitely the Allied name for the Japanese machine, which actually carried the rather-marvellous name “System 97 Printing Machine for European Characters”. And Cryptonomicon remains my favourite novel, but does have a slightly memory-distorting effect (together with the Strong Beer), given its fictionalisations.
  • (30.10) Three Boys ‘Aftershock’ was great on many levels.
  • (33.30) My Christmas night BrewDog Paradox was sublime.
  • (36.00) The German one, the name of which I couldn’t bring to mind / pronounce is Schorschbräu Schorschbock, the last (57%) edition of which was called ‘Finis Coronat Opus’. And really — though this may just be the inevitable prejudice you’d get from an English-speaker — BrewDog won this game, I think. Schorschbräu’s packaging and everything was just so po-faced and serious while the Scots were clearly taking the piss and having a laugh and bowed out spectacularly with End of History. And while BrewDog did recently announce that they’d walk away from the theatrics a bit, the campaign around Ghost Deer is pretty damn funny, too.
  • (41.40) 8 Wired’s ‘Batch 18′ is fantastic, and still the as-far-as-I-can-tell strongest made here. Though there was some mention in The Pursuit of Hoppiness of him having plans to climb a few rungs higher on the boozeladder. But — I hasten to add, the day after publishing this and with great thanks to local good-beer-bar-frequenter David Wu  – it turns out we forgot all about Green Man’s barleywine, ‘Enrico’s Cure’, which weighs in at 14.5%, and does actually crow about being “New Zealand’s strongest beer” (true for now), “probably the world’s strongest organic beer” (which seems likely) and “one of the strongest beers in the world” (which definitely isn’t true, except for insanely-generous definitions of “one of”).
  • (43.50) Ngahere Gold turns out to be 7.2%, and I know it may seem a little harsh of me to knock it and then go on to praise Epic ‘Larger’ — but I’ll either just wear the hypocrisy or argue that the latter just had enough fun and funny about it.
  • (46.00) I’m somewhat shocked that I was closer to the mark than movie-geek George, on this one. Bruce Wayne doesn’t buy the restaurant; he buys the hotel.
  • (46.30) Midstrength News & Recommendation: Cassels & Sons ‘Beer’. Alice Galletly did a great little write-up with it on her blog — which, itself, counts as an additional recommendation if you’re not reading her already. And then there’s Epic’s ‘LARGER’, which has now been and gone from our taps but is now skulking around in bottles. Not seeing the pun turned out to be a hilarious Elephant trap, into which even Wellington’s daily newspaper happily blundered. Kelly Ryan’s typically-informative blog post on the making-of confirms my Southern Holiday Beer theory, too, and would’ve been worth a read even if he’d proven me wrong.
  • (52.20) I still haven’t had my Renaissance ‘Tribute’. It’s here beside me on my desk. And I haven’t figured out quite-why the name, either. So that’ll be my homework.
  • (55.00) We’ll do a Year in Review episode, next, rather than a Christmas one as such. That’d obviously leave you waiting ages, now. But for now, cue the music: ‘Shopping for Explosives’, by The Coconut Monkeyrocket.

Podcast episode recorded: 3 December 2011, nearly relatively-promptly uploaded (I swear): 14 December 2011, and then only actually-for-serious uploaded: 24 January 2012. Sheesh.


1: Note also that the url format for Twitter pages includes a shebang before the username. Double geek-happiness, there.

This entry was posted in Podcast episodes. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Beer Diary Podcast episode 8: Strong Beer

  1. In effect a Double IPA is a Double Strong APA . I don’t think APA’s AIPA’s IIPA/DIPA’s have much to do with the beers that had anything vagely to do the beers that went to India or the beers that followed on from them.

    Barley Wine is a very young catch all style of beer that actually includes all sorts of different strong old beer styles. Im writing up Barley Wine for the issue after next of Hoppyness. Should be interesting.

  2. So very funny that you feel the Twisted Hop ripped off the name Enigma as this beer was originally named Epithany untill they found out that NZ’s other older real ale Brew Pub Gabraith’s had a barleywine called Epithany so the Hop renamed thier Enigma!

    P.S. I have the heard the whole line of ‘Wine and Food matching being mainly Compliment’ so many times and I soooo don’t buy it. What are all you Wine and Food people matching wine to? acidic sorbets, and fruit salads? Come on, wine works mainly on contrast (the rich unami of seared red meat with sweet tannic red wine, the acidic bite of dry reisling with rich oily salmon …) . Beer’s real talent is to do what wine seldom does and provide complimentary matches from all the complex flavours that stem from the complex ingredients and processes and can therefor compliment the complex flavours in the food. Rant over :-)

  3. As I understand it Renaissance Tribute name was just that , “not the greatest beer in the world just a tribute” and from memory the Tuppeny Ale was the the very not midstrength 5%abv.

    I think I am the only person who comments of blog posts anymore, everyone else seems to tweet!

  4. Dylan J says:

    “What’s you strongest beer?”
    “Black Tokyo* Horizon, it’s 17.2%.”
    “I’ll have one of those!”
    “Sure. It’s $44 for a 330ml bottle.”
    CONVERSATION OVER.
    Still I guess Malthouse can top that with Utopias…

    • Phil says:

      I have had heaps of fun with Utopias on that score, yeah. Great fun when a suit — and it’s always a suit — is looking to show off and asks for a round of either our strongest or our most expensive. Utopias is both, and if the suit’s got two show-off targets then he’s either looking at an $1,800 round or “just” $96, if they take that relatively-more-sensible option of just having a glass each, rather than a bottle.

      Weirdly, no-one’s ever gone for it, after their initial swagger.

  5. Dylan J says:

    I was just reviewing some footage I shot at Renaissance in November. The next single batch imperial stout from 8Wired looks like it’s going to be a good deal stronger than Batch 18…

Have at it: