It’s hardly a secret: I loves the Little Creatures, I do. It continues to pain me greatly that only the Pale Ale is available over here in New Zealand — as much as I freakin’ adore it, they’ve long make other brilliant things and have relatively-recently started doing these ‘Single Batch’ runs.
Coincidentally, I was just (before writing this up) listening to the first episode of Radio Brews News, a new podcast from some fine folk over in the Big Country. One of the topics of conversation was another Creatures ‘Single Batch’, a recently-released Märzen. Apparently it wasn’t overly well-received, with the general sense among some of the Beer Geek Crowd (not really shared by those on the podcast) that one-offs should be over-the-top, and anything shy of crazypants is a disappointment. Which, frankly, is bonkers. Firstly, there’s a solid case to be made that a Märzen which knocks your socks off is, at least, not quite right; they’re pretty easy-going things, by design. And secondly, I do tire of that undercurrent of thinking that only the big-and-brash are worth celebrating. There’s a lot to be said for well-made pieces of relaxing and restrained loveliness. Like this.
Also rather coincidentally, I’d recently been talking about Beer-and-x Matching. I know basically nothing about food,1 so I’m all at sea when it comes to the finally-fashionable field of beer-and-food matching. Perhaps to compensate as much as for the inherent fun of it, I was recently talking about beer-and-music matching on the Twitterthing — so I’m listening to Talking Heads while writing this, for reasons that’ll be apparent if your Music Trivia skill is high enough2 — and Pete Brown also brought up the subject of beer-and-books matching with excellent timing and linking it to a discussion of the broderline-synesthesia I sometimes try to hide behind when my ‘tasting note’ comparisons get particularly-loopy. But the best x is as true as it sounds twee to say: good beer goes best with good people.3
And this beer was linked to several. My friend Kirsten bought it for me when she was over in Melbourne for work, going so far as to lie about not being able to get any to bring home and leaving it to send me all geek-giddy when I just discovered it in her fridge. We didn’t get around to drinking it, distracted by good bars and good food as we were, so I thought it’d make a good bar-warming thing to split with Scott at his new pub — though it took us a few months to finally have it. Good thing I’m an alarmingly-patient fellow, sometimes; I was dead keen to try this. But it all worked out nicely; we had some good stories to share, and were joined by my flatmate (and our mutual friend and former colleague) Megan, and my friend KT. Just bloody marvellous.
So it was in good company, but it didn’t rest and try to coast on that advantage; it was delightful all of its own doing, as well. It was a wonderfully deft stout — only 4.2%, and with a light, silky body that still managed to have a real smoothness to it (presumably thanks to the oatmeal). The coffee-in-a-chocolate-milkshake flavour is delicious and not overblown — but still easily enough to warrant the sip-and-savour that a much heavier beer normally calls for or demands. I say in my notes that I was on a good stout run — which I am, and which I can tell you (from flipping forward a few pages) continues a good while yet — but that’s a two-edged thing; this could’ve been eclipsed by other recent beers, if it wasn’t something special. But it was just what I was looking for, exactly what I was hoping it’d be, and totally worth waiting for. Now I just have to find a suitable occasion for my second bottle…
Verbatim: Little Creatures Single Batch Oatmeal Stout 16/4/11 @ HG with Scotty, at last. Related a Good Story About Malthouse, so it seemed apt. 568ml — “pint-sized!”, 4.2%, and that [is] apparent in its lovely-lovely lightness. Deliciously smooth coffee / choc-milkshake wave a few seconds in. Just what I wanted, again. I am on a good stout run. Scott’s bottle-opener, “Freddie”, went well, given Pipsqueak’s logo. It’s deft, and confidently-understated. Plus I got to split it with KT, as well!
1: Dinner tonight was scrambled eggs. That’s just about as elaborate a meal as I have ever prepared, or ever realistically aspire to prepare, on my own. Though, in my defence: they were excellent; the Three Boys Wheat I had complemented them wonderfully; and I’m not terrible as a sous-chef, so long as you find enthusiastic ignorance amusing, rather than irritating.
2: If not: Talking Heads released an album called Little Creatures, back in 1985. It and the live-in-the-bottle nature of their first and flagship product combined to inspire the name of the brewery, so the story goes.
3: Helpfully, good people drink good beer, as Hunter reminds us.