If you’ll forgive me going all self-referential for a moment,1 I’ll quote myself from Twitter:
So Golden Ticket ‘Black Emperor: NZ’ is rather good. The phrase “pleasantly surprised” is a double understatement.
I was at Hashigo, and conscious of the usual delay that exists between me writing a Diary entry as I try something and it winding up actually online, here.2 I wanted to give this a little plug for its inherent goodness, but also because of the circumstances. I wasn’t kidding when I said “double understatement” — pleasant isn’t a strong enough word for a beer this tasty, and suprised was similarly inadequate; I had hated Golden Ticket’s previous two releases. The entry for their second beer (‘Summer Babe’) is by far the longest in my first Diary, and it’s fairly full-flightedly ranty.3 But a few people had insisted that I should give them a third chance — a rare thing, if ever there was — and I’m glad I did, especially since I had missed the original edition which had preceded this local-hops variant.
At first glance another member of the Unnameable Style of hoppy-but-black / black-but-hoppy, ‘Black Emperor’ throws an interesting curveball in that it’s a black pilsner rather than a hopped-up porter or blackified IPA — so it’s lager, rather than ale; it’s from the parallel universe where the Unnameable beer you’ve started to enjoy but have barely gotten to know yet suddenly shows up sporting a sinister goatee. Beer, in its awesomely sprawling variety, will always confound any sort of broad generalisation about these things, but the Standard Line is that lagers are crisp and short where ales are more rounded and long. As many issues as can be taken with such a distinction, it’s not entirely wrong, at least — and this peculiar beer seems a decent exemplar of it.
So it’s a case of a recent trend for Something Different made An Extra Bit Different Again, which really does make it enough to jettison all worries about style names out the window, so the tearing-your-hair-out which would otherwise ensue doesn’t ruin the enjoyment of your pint — let alone your entire day. It’s simultaneously rich but crisp and refreshingly sharp, and it’s coffee-ish but equally-bristling with hoppy zing. It is, in short, interesting. And I rate interestingness very highly indeed — it just accompanies tastiness so very well, don’t you think? Black Emperor was — as I said — a pleasant surprise in having both. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do next.
Verbatim: Golden Ticket ‘Black Emperor: NZ’ 22/3/11 on tap @ HZ 4.8% An interesting one, for a few reasons. Firstly, I like it. And hated their previous two. This NZ-hopped version is, I’m told, better than the original, so maybe they’re in a steep climb. And after all this Black IPA talk (I wrote up ‘Hop in the Dark’ last night), this is black pilsner. So the Spock-with-goatee lager-alternate-universe brother. Proper black, espresso bubbles. Big rich coffee flavour, nice fresh hoppy zing. It’s an interesting excerside in lager v ale, and the usual line basically holds up: the body is lighter, the finish shorter, the edges sharper.
1: Well, even if you won’t; it’s me that has the keys to this thing.
2: Currently, for recent entries, t≈13 days; I’m writing this up late at night on April 4 (by my reckoning).
3: I really should link to it, I know. But it’s stuck in that increasingly-tragic Not Uploaded Yet grey area that has befallen the latter half of Diary One.