Stuck in the not-yet-uploaded limbo of the latter half of the first Diary is a stout by my now-flatmate; a big, delicious thing called ‘Cottonpicker’. That was the first time I’d been moved to enter a homebrewed beer into my notes. And this here is the second. You could look at that as a) a fairly shitty average of one per hundreds-of-pages book, or b) evidence of high standards. Personally, I think it’s both, and will look to remedy ‘a)’, now that I know a good few more excellent homebrewers.
And you might not be seeing this more widely-available any time soon, but we’re on the cusp of a bit of an explosion in Wellington-based and Wellington-ish brewing: the Overboss and Over-overbosses of the Malthouse are soon to set up a brewpub-type-thing on Bond Street and beers should soon be available from two new nano-breweries,1 in the shapes of the fittingly-named the ‘Garage Project’ in Aro Valley, and Kereru Brewing2 out in the Hutt Valley. My days of occasionally lamenting or wondering about how this town, of all towns, doesn’t have any breweries within its limits are numbered in the small numerals, it seems. And — speaking of homebrewers, you see — a fair-few local folk are poised to make the switch from brewing in their basements and whatnot to contract-brewing at various places around the country; look for names like ParrotDog and Revolution Brewing very soon.
And not long after, with any luck: Defamation Brewing, the project of David Wood, a manager from down the road at Hashigo and the maker of this — a charmingly-odd IPA made with beetroot. Because why not? I’d tried it a while earlier, and was quite taken with it, when he’d brought some in for a little ‘brewshare’ evening at Malthouse. The weirdness of its ‘pitch’, and its striking colour — which did show up best in a smaller glass, as you can see below — gave it a bunch of uniqueness points, but it stood on its own as a well-made beer on top of all that. Even if you were blindfolded against its striking first impression, the beetroot would still come through in an unexpectedly-welcome earthiness that seems to help set off the significant lively American-esque hop flavours — in the contrasting-and-amplifying manner of that little bit of rock salt on posh chocolate, or (similarly) of the oysters in Three Boys’ masterful stout.
It made for a very nice little consolatory beer after the tragedy that was my particular bottle of Mikkeller ‘Statesman’ — Dave happened to’ve stopped by my pub late in the evening, and I was recounting that sad tale when my perennially-slack memory kicked in and reminded me that a full bottle of Beetnik was sitting in my personal stash in the keg chiller. Perfect timing, and pretty damn good remedy.
With “little guys” like these turning into slightly-bigger-guys in the brewing game, it’s a bloody marvellous time to be a great big beer nerd. The next few months will doubtless see a whole bunch of new names in my little Diaries; bring ’em on, I say.
Verbatim: Defamation ‘Beatnik’ IPA [I still can’t believe I didn’t get the punny spelling right; I love punny names] 20/4/11 donated by David, who was just in earlier tonight. I was sharing my ‘Stateside’ pain, and so thought this might nicely compensate. Big American hops, after all. Beetroot, though? For colour, to mess with people, including yourself. And for that “earthyness”, which, sure enough, is here in spades. Heh. Spades, how apt. It looks like a Kriek Boon, complete with the pinkish foam. Really well made, and bloody interesting. And after ‘Cottonpicker’, we’re now averaging one homebrewed beer per Diary. Two goodies, too.
1: By which we mean the step smaller than “micro”, of course — not actually “nanoscopic”.
2: i.e., named for the native “Wood Pigeon”. New Zealanders seem rather fond of this source of brewery names. Even if you set aside Tui — since it’s not really a separate brewery anymore, and isn’t really a proper beer (please excuse the lapse into snobbery on this occasion), or isn’t the beer it says it is, at least; please, can we set aside Tui? — there’s Tuatara, Moa (with a ‘Weka’ sub-brand), and there was briefly a Kea Brewing. I’m sure other charismatic-and-endemic animals will be seized upon, yet, but I’ve also always thought that “Native Animal Brewing Company” itself would make a nicely postmodern homage.