And then, shortly after midnight and thereby officially into the New Year1 all previous concern about Plural Big Beers was out the window, caught by a snappy breeze, completely buggered the hell off and was gone — as you can see by this thing.2
Toby and I had been tempted to have one earlier in the day, but went for the Emerson’s ‘JP’ instead. So later, once my friends had made their way back to the pub, New Year’s well-wishes had been exchanged, and the ‘What next?’ question returned, there was only one real candidate.
‘Stuntman’ is the loopiest — so far — of Hallertau’s fleet of hoppy pale ales.3 The brewer himself described it as a “stupid beer for brave people”, which I always liked; my note for the Beer Menu at work warns that “hop levels border on insanity, and the high strength propels wave after wave of flavour directly into the brain”. Not to belabour the point, but this is a big beer. It’s so perilously near to being overblown and unfunny that you get the exhilaratingly uncomfortable thrill of standing way too close to a precipitous drop.
The colour is an appealing gold, with a slightly-murky cast that is probably inevitable given the massive pile of ingredients that’d be necessary for a brew of this bigness. The aromas are invitingly citrussy, fruity, floral and foresty — orchardy, in a word. The hoppy bitterness on the palate is significant, to say the least, but at this level of alcoholic strength you’ve got to have boatloads of malt in the mix, so there is a surprising amount of balance to be had here too.
Oh, and the label. That is the best damn beer label in the country, probably in the world. I’m open to being alerted to other worthy candidates, but this sets a high bar. I really must get the t-shirt; it turns out they have made some.
Verbatim: Hallertau ‘Stuntman’ IIPA 31/12/10 750ml ÷ 3 w/ Toby & Wendy. 9.5% We’ve been ey[e]ing this up all day. Best beer label in NZ; must emai[l] Steve & ask him to make tshirts. Amelia picks up the sweatiness from the JP, but in a very different way… Piney + citrussy, like some odd sort of a mixed orchard. But utterly awesome. So close to being overblown.
1: Being basically nocturnal, and having worked for evers in an industry where a ‘shift’ usually rolls past your mere midnight, I’m of the habit of continuing to use the date of the day I woke up, until I actually go to sleep. Some clever math is required when I’m awake past two whole consecutive midnights, but such occasions are rarer, these days.
2: And this wasn’t even the actually-next beer after the Rip Tide that it follows in the Diary; smack on midnight, I had myself an Epic / Thornbridge Stout. If memory serves. Which it may well not. (See? Take notes!) You can see from the scan that my handwriting certainly got rather wibbly, and a few ‘typos’ definitely crept in with letters going missing and such.
3: The hierarchy goes: ‘Minimus’ (sessionable at 3.8%), ‘Statesman’ (their every-day APA), ‘Maximus Humulus Lupulus’ (originally brewed for a mostly-friendly head-to-head against Epic’s ‘Armageddon’), and then this.