Back with unusual promptness — which is hopefully a good omen — George and I sat down on Friday for a few beers and a somewhat-supersized season opener for another round of the podcast. We try a couple of new-ish releases, and one bottle that’d been sitting around waiting for the right occasion. And, unusually, one of our Beers of the Week turns out to be something of a dud, or at least a disappointment. Conversation turns variously to good and bad advice on glassware and temperature, the wealth of new developments in the local scene, and (inevitably, it seems) the origin-fudging that I complained about last time.
For the record, I’m not planning to transition the blog to podcast-only; there’s plenty to go up here of the familiar rambling and ranting and reminiscing kinds. I am, in fact, drafting a Sydney Travelogue post while this episode uploads…
— Show notes:
(1.30) Easter Trading Laws. My resort to saying “March or April” reminds of the ludicrous “Computus Problem”, about which I once foot-notedly rambled, while drinking a Taieri George (appropriately enough).
(2.30) cf Matthew 27:52.
(3.30) Thanks to TableTop Day, I was also out and about at midnight, and now feel I should add a note to counter my own enthusiasm: the circumstances do conspire a bit to make Easter Friday some kind of Pre-loading Olympics. The crowds shambling to the pub to greet those 12 o’clock openings were awfully munter-ish.
(5.10) Beer of the Week #1: Epic ‘Mosaic’.1 Which is heaps easier for my lisp to navigate, inherently worthy as an individual beer, and genuinely hilarious as a collection of little references and bits of gentle self-satire.
(9.00) My bad, the IPAGlass was a project of Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada, which makes vastly more sense. Adding to the suspicion that this might all just be a load of marketing wank, it seems the design isn’t that new — nor beer-specific (except for the addition of nucleation sites).
(18.20) Beer of the Week #2: Tuatara Tripel. ‘Ardennes’ was something I liked a lot, when I managed to remember that it existed — meanwhile, that Diary entry now gets the bulk of its traffic from searches for “Kegtris”, when they occasionally occur. Neil Miller, on the Malthouse blog, went a little into the background, though he’s oddly coy about not knowing the “real story”; last I heard, he’s still on the brewery payroll. (Edited 30 July 2016 to strike that last part. Apparently Neil, at this point, hadn’t done any work for the brewery for a few years. Perhaps, if more people were better-practiced at telling us who they work for and when, we wouldn’t have to speculate. For what it’s worth, I belatedly apologise.)
(22.25) My bad, again, Tuataras are reptiles — what they’re aren’t, is lizards.
(27.40) George probably means a twisty-wire cage top. Twist-tops aren’t so classy.
(28.00) Temperature, and surprisingly-ranty advice thereon.
(33.40) I’m enough of a geek that I want answers and models for how fast the temperature of my glass of beer will change in ambient air (at various pressures and in various glasses), and I want to know how much condensation is going to wind up in my frosted-pint beer. I’m failing to find the right tools, though. Help appreciated.
(35.35) Drinking from the bottle / can, which again makes me want to do some actual pen-and-paper physics. Maybe I’ll have to hit the books.
(40.00) Beer of the Week #4: West Coast ‘The Artist’ 2012 a.k.a. Dave Kurth’s Mysterious Barleywine. West Coast Brewery still exists, thanks to some somewhat unsavory company-law juggling. All completely legal and par for the course — which is exactly why it pisses me off; this stuff shouldn’t happen, and it shouldn’t so-readily screw the very people who weren’t at fault. Grumble. Belatedly, I also just spotted that The Artist was Alice Galletly’s penultimate beer, her #364.
(1.01.00) Forgive us for being on a Wellington-centric run here for a bit, but these are boom times indeed. Craft Beer Capital’s ‘Hopstock’ — expanding on a Tuatara / Fork & Brewer-only event from last year — is next-next weekend, 10-12 April. And I seriously want that artwork on a t-shirt. If you’re keen on an impulsive weekend away, BrewDay & MarchFest — which I think are both set in CamelCase — are mere days away.
(1.04.55) I mean “chacun à son goût”, though the long-suffering law graduate in me always wishes that the much-more-fun-to-say Latin version — de gustibus non est disputandum — had more currency in modern conversation.
(1.05.10) The Rising Tide. Warms my cynical heart, it does.
(1.07.30) On the Beer List: Te Radar, who did great things for the Beer Awards, and a neat little fundraiser / awareness-raiser for Kaibosh (which recently won a rather-big-deal award and is well-worth getting on board with — hint, hint).
(1.11.30) Recommendations: Townshend’s many beers. I’ve been reminded by the GKBF and the impending third season of Game of Thrones — torrents of the first episode of which are probably cratering the internet as I write these notes. Track down his beers, give him a prod on the Twitters to say Hi / thanks / try to provoke him.
(1.15.40) Ommegang made an ‘Iron Throne’ Blonde Ale — the style presumably referencing that shitbag Joffrey (which hopefully isn’t a spoiler for anyone).
(1.16.30) “Lancaster”? I mean Lannister, obviously. It’s been too long.
(1.17.10) Close. It’s just Hazelnut Brown Nectar.
(1.19.50) This insight into Rogue came from @MattSNZ, on the Twitters — who I had the pleasure of bumping into in person at the aforementioned Pomeroy’s.
(1.22.10) Thanks to a generous 2012-vintage bottle shared by my flatmate, I didn’t have to suffer through the whole long weekend without a Taieri George. Phew.
Back for a second ‘Year in Review’ and in moderate danger of starting a tradition, we sit down for a trio of appropriate beers and ponder 2012; a year full of great beers, big beer-related news, and mercifully few apocalypses. We stick pretty-much to last year’s categories (such as we had); I offer a few suggestions for things to make sure you’re reading / watching / using, and then get down to pondering what 2012 might go down in beer history as the Year Of, before reminiscing on our beers of the year.
(2.40) Beer of the Week #1: Liberty ‘Alpha Dogg’. Jo sat down with us (and Mike) for s02e03. Mike’s new brewery now has a name, too; Panhead Custom Ales. Inexcusably, and uncharacteristically, I’m lacking photos for a bunch of beers that’ll get mentioned in this episode, including our Beers of the Week. Apologies for that; I’ll attempt to re-solidify my nerdy camera habit.
(6.20) The combination of “buttery”, “not bitter” and “rosé” probably gets George removed from Jo’s Christmas Card List. But he really did like Alpha Dogg.
(12.40) Website of the Year: Untappd(appified interfaces are available, naturally, for iOS and Android), which does indeed make a cameo appearance in one particular A.B.R. episode. I’m on there with the same underscored handle as I had to use on Twitter (he says, cursing his very-common name). I don’t join in the numerical / bottlecappy ratings for various philosophical reasons, but they’ve recently confirmed that you don’t muck up the statistics if you abstain. So all good.
(16.10) 2012, Year of the x.Mainstreaming, says George; Pretender, says Phil — in a nice coincidence, and a fitting difference-in-approach/temperament. Boundary Road and Crafty Beggars are obviously the highest-profile examples, from the Big Faking Small end of the spectrum. The Small Faking Existence, or Small-to-Medium Fudging Origin end is more depressing, blunting my usual impulse to name and shame. ‘Dr. Hops’ is a bleak example of the former — although, I’m mortified to report (given my praise for them on this point), Yeastie Boys have begun a determined back-sliding on the giving of credit where due; it turns out that mentions of Steve Nally and/or Invercargill are slowly being expunged from their labels. Fudging Origin is just weird, too; Liberty aren’t the only ones to do it, but I just don’t understand why it seems like an option worth taking. I might have to compile a Wall Of Shame, just for completeness. I’ll have to do a full post on ‘Hancock & Co.’, too, and what a contemptible pile of bullshit they are — while arrogantly claiming the “NZBeer” Twitter handle, for fuck’s sake.
(29.20) Beer of the Week #2: Yeastie Boys ‘Gunnamatta’. There were a number of ill-timed and unfortunate mis-steps at Invercargill over the past few months, which combined to cause (among other things) the Great Yeastie Drought of 2012-2013 — Stu’s post explaining which is a masterpiece of honesty and fair dealing, which either compensates for their apparent creeping habit of Origin Fudging, or puts it in enragingly stark relief (I can’t decide which).
(36.50) Phil’s (work) Beer of the Year: Garage Project ‘Day of the Dead’.
(38.20) Phil’s (non-work) Beer of the Year: Afterwork pints; including, among others, Stone & Wood ‘Pacific Ale’, ParrotDog ‘FlaxenFeather’, Three Boys Golden Ale, Moo Brew Pilsner, Garage Project ‘Hāpi Daze’, Hallertau Saison, and (once I remember it, a little later in the episode), Yeastie Boys ‘Golden Perch’. Only very broadly ‘of a kind’, but all just absolutely lovely, relaxing beers.
(50.30) Honourable G.O.B.O.T.Y. mentions: Hallertau ‘Funkonnay’, what a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster beer should taste like. And Bright Brewery’s ‘Resistance Red’ and/or Feral’s ‘Watermelon Warhead’ from GABS, or perhaps one of the beers I had back at the beloved Wig & Pen.
(56.55) Honourable mentions, more generally: Renaissance’s ‘Great Punkin”, which made up for the badly-flavoured beers George endured in the U.S., and Garage Project ‘Ziggy’s Carrot Cake Ale’, which caused fire-hazard log-jam queues at Beervana.
(1.01.30) Now I can’t remember the name of the tied house which uses “free house” in its signage. Hopefully a commenter can help, since it does so nicely tie the ‘Year of the x’ themes from this year and last together.
(1.03.00) Fork & Brewer’s pilsner is a very decent afterwork pint, but also a sad case in marketing; the brewer(s?) made a tasty North-German-esque dry pilsner but then the Overbosses handed naming duties over to the ad agency they work with. On seeing “pilsner”, reading Wikipedia and/or not thinking very hard (or asking the beer’s creator many/any questions), they named it “Bohemian Hipster”, which is both a) boringly predictable and b) off by about 600 km.
(1.08.15) Badass Digest is indeed a cornucopia of awesome things.
(1.09.00) ‘Yumyum Beersies’ (or a variation thereon) has shown up in several comics by The Oatmeal, most recently in a rather-on-the-money one about Making Things For The Web — parts of which ring very loud bells, for me.
(1.09.30) It was one thousand eight hundred (and ten) years ago, if we assume by “twenty-three” I meant ‘203’; clearly my brain was multiply-broken, here.
Clearing out the second half of the Lost Podcast Archive, I can here finally present our musings on “Wellington in a Pint”, Beervana 2012 — and, I’m sure most contentiously, on the acquisition of Emerson’s Brewery by the sprawling conglomeration best-known locally as “Lion”.
The W.I.A.P. four-pack provided an incredibly-varied set of Beers Of The Week and an opportunity to ramble through significant upsides and niggling downsides of each. Then, in the much-more-recent past, George and I were re-determined to get back into the podcasting habit, and wound up — relatively accidentally — talking through our reactions to the completely unexpected sale of Emerson’s; the much-loved gateway craft brewery for both of us. I found myself in the middle of the “debate”, such as there was, which was unfamiliar and strange although probably inevitable given the nonsense on both sides.
Next up is our 2012 Year in Review episode — and then we’ll see about rebooting ourselves for Season Three. Meanwhile, as always, direct downloads are available (here and here, respectively), there’s a podcast-specific RSS feed, and you should be able to get us on iTunes. George and myself can also both be reached on the Twitterthing, or you can leave comments here or on the Bookface.
s02e07: Wellington in a Pint & Beervana
— Show notes:
(1.15) Beer of the Week #1: Tuatara / Glynn Foster ‘Bye Bye Blanket Man’
(3.40) Drinking order is a tricky discipline, sometimes. Usually, the rule is to go mild to strong, light-ish to dark-ish, easy-going to fully-flavoured — or some negotiated compromise therebetween. But some beers will muck you up, usually through the presence of some freakish element. And three of those (i.e., a majority) did that.
(27.00) Beer of the Week #3:ParrotDog / Nathan McEwan ‘Cooked Strait’
(30.30) It looks like George was as spot on about cold smoking as he was about Theseus. Full cooking-and-classics marks, that man.
(33.10) Beervana 2012. I put up a bloggish version of my “seminar” here, earlier. And — in one of those many odd coincidences of timing that gravitate toward me, here — I just got back from Christchurch and the Great Kiwi Beer Festival, whereat I did a version of same. (Final attendance was apparently ~8,000 people at Beervana; the G.K.B.F. was ~10,000 at once. It was huge, and awesome in many ways. But more about that properly, soon.)
(36.55) If you’re just joining us — or even if you aren’t — George v Rex is still very much worth listening to.
(38.55) People really do get slightly freaked out by our newfangled digital recorder. If an Englishman starts waving a breathaliser-looking-thing at you at your next beer festival, he might just be podcasting.
(48.15) George’s favourites: Three Boys Best Bitter, Cassels Milk Stout, Renaissance ‘Great Punkin’, Yeastie Boys ‘Her Majesty’, Garage Project ‘Ziggy’s Carrot Cake Ale’.
(53.20) See? These awards need a memorable / pronounceable acronym.
(56.00) The origins of the Llama pie are completely lost to me, now. (Help?) The beer was a Bridge’s Target, though, definitely. And it was great.
(58.20) Beer of the Week #4: Yeastie Boys / Andrew Childs ‘Celia Wade-Brown Ale’. Wade-Brown ran with Green Party affiliation, so George’s trivia streak finally breaks, here. From memory, the other ‘spammer’ was the man behind the nearly-up-and-running Baylands Brewery.
(1.10.30) Beervana, again. (Despite me saying I didn’t have anything to say.)
(1.12.10) Beer News, which is horribly outdated now, of course. But still: Good George is still going good. And we really will need to roadtrip. A few kegs of their stuff made it to Malthouse for the IPA Challenge, but I’m keen to try their general run. Garage Project’s 24 More (or “24+”) is still going, but much slower than 24/24 did, due to the Extreme Busy-ness of the brewery at the moment.
(6.30) Beer News: Beer “olds”, by now. But still, I haven’t had my ramble about the issue, here. So here I am. Boundary Road has since bought Founders, and the rumour mill is spinning so fast as to be audible, but no other news has broken, yet.
(11.50) As much as I habitually recommend Beastwars, I endorse Cryptonomicon — and the Stephenson corpus more generally — even moreso.
(13.00) I still don’t know. I should set up a secure PGP-laden email account for beer-related leaks from insiders. (BeerLeaks? HoppyLeaks?)
(13.50) There is some bad news on the West Coast front; almost all the small-deal investors got shafted and lost everything. (Including my long-vaunted 31¢ share!) The fact that the original managers / directors are still running the place and completely fine — despite the precipitating fuck-up being very much theirs — really raises my middle-class hackles. But that’s a matter for another time, perhaps.
(14.10) 1) They don’t owe you anything.
(16.00) 2) Reacting to new facts ≠ “knee jerk reactions” ≠ a bad thing.
(18.30) 3) Lion have form in both directions.
(20.40) 4) Optimism is not inherently worthy.
(21.20) 5) Selling out eventually isn’t mandatory.
(22.00) Speculation on future sell-outs now surrounds Tuatara. That’ll be interesting to see. They’ve wanted a cash injection for a long time. Who’s offering..?
(24.20) Beer of the Week #2: Garage Project ‘Trip Hop’.
(26.30) Scratch is a totally worthwhile documentary, if you haven’t already seen it.
(28.30) Crafty Beggars really pissed me off — though I was indeed grateful for the counter-example to the appallingly-saccharine Pollyanna / Pangloss holier-than-thou piously-optimistic goo that was been paraded around at the time.
(29.40) Boundary Road’s “The Resident” caused me some consternation at the time, and they are — interestingly, and to link in to a previous note — thought to be a prime suitor for Tuatara / Whoever Is Next…
(34.50) 6) Lion are investing in Lion. That’sall. (To which I’ll return.)
(36.10) Lion and Coromandel have apparently settled, in a way that makes Coromandel pretty happy. So good on them. I hope they got a decent cheque, and have fun with it. It’s still kinda summer, too. You still have time. We didn’t make it that far, in our New Year’s roadtrip, but close. I waved, from the Bay of Plenty.
(39.10) 7) Winners and losers.
(42.10) Lion investing in Lion, again.
(43.20) Recommendations: Coromandel ‘Good As Gold’, which is hopefully okay, and Garage Project ‘Aro Noir’, which has since basically entirely run out, unfortunately.
(46.20) On the Beer List: George R.R. Martin. I’m sure he’d like a beer. (And maybe Ian McKellen.)
(48.20) Hobbit is definitely more weaponised, but it was still damn good fun.
In not-at-all breaking news, it is apparently February. When last I wrote, it was as far from New Year’s Eve as it is now; life moves pretty fast. I do feel somewhat guilty for the evident fact that it’s things that make me grumpy which most-easily rouse me from my happily-distracted existence and make me actually publish something.1 I’m in a damn-near-perpetual state of meaning to write something, but as the only-occasionally-wise Jayne Cobb once said — in an episode of Firefly which is just over ten years old but now seems oddly prescient of the current omnishambles in the European meat industry — if wishes were horses, we’d all be eating steak.
Even more unfortunately — given the considerable efforts put in by my co-host and producer extraordinaire, George — the podcast has been even more neglected than it looks. We’d recorded episodes and dispatches as far back as the middle of last year which still haven’t been ‘aired’.2 Life-moving-fast would always get in the way of me posting them when I wanted to and should’ve done, which would then kick in truly maladaptive and dim-witted procrastinatory circuitry in my brain that somehow fools itself into thinking that maybe the answer to annoying delay is more delay.
Speaking (as I slightly was) of the calendar rolling around, the arrival of 2013 prompted us to record a Year In Review episode. Getting back in the saddle (to inadvertently return to the horsemeat topic) was great fun, but I’d be intolerably remiss if I didn’t finally also upload the Lost Episodes. So I’ll do that in a couple of compendium posts before getting on with the show proper — because I am as much of a pedantic completionist as I am a scatterbrained procrastinator.
So here they are for the non-zero numbers of people who have (graciously) hassled me for them, and as not-actually-that-out-of-date historical documents in their own right. As always, direct downloads are available (here and here, respectively), there’s a podcast-specific RSS feed, and you should be able to get us on iTunes. George and myself can also both be reached on the Twitterthing, or you can leave comments here or on the Bookface.
s02e05: West Coast IPA Challenge and Matariki
— Show notes:
(0.01) Hugely experimental, this one. Bear with us. And let us know if we should try this kind of thing more often. We’d love to take the show on the road to Beervana…
(43.50) The background noise is chocolate being opened. Sorry, we didn’t save you any.
(44.50) Craft Beer College, and consumer education — plus the usual (but completely justified!) jabs at the beer-marketing business.
(55.50) Recommendations: Yeastie Boys ‘Her Majesty 2012’. It’s possible that I knew the Secret Ingredient at some point, but I have — true to form — lost it. Garage Project ‘Kava Coconut’, which was tonnes of fun — disclosures, disclosures… — at Hashigo’s Pacific Beer Expo. Kereru ‘Moonless Stout’, which really is lovely for a session-strength stout — and should be around a lot more in the latter half of this year, since Chris has a new premises and big shiny steel tanks on the way. Mikkeler ‘Texas Ranger’, a chipotle-and-everything bottle of gorgeousness. And go on, have some Kula Shaker nostalgia.
(1.04.00) Beer of the Week #3, or technically maybe not: Liberty ‘C!tra’. And there’s us talking about Beer of the Year. Which does make me really keen to get the Year In Review up. One more Lost Podcast Archive, then we will…
1: Though, speaking of which, I really should go to town on the Wellington City Council’s astonishingly-loaded questions in their “survey” on alcohol law reform issues. Tactically,that should probably wait until after my application for a Duty Manager’s certificate and the off-license at work both go through. (But when did I ever pay attention to such sensible tactics, I ask you.) 2: Uploaded. Beamed. Podified. Whatever. 3: In all honesty, I’ve forgotten. But it rings a bell.
There was a flurry of New Day Job productivity here, but the ramp-up to Beervana evidently derailed that somewhat. It’s an awesome time of year to be a beer geek, and I’ve got a brilliantly-enjoyable new gig in the beer business, but my best writing hours have always been from midnight to four — it’s probably genetic, for all I know — and I just haven’t found the time. That should begin to swing back, on the far side of this weekend.
So, with apologies for the delay, we here present an unintentionally-apt reintroduction and recap podcast episode, with less of a Topic For Discussion and more just two guys sitting down over a few beers. George and I hadn’t caught up for a while, and now — collectively — we haven’t seen you lot in some time, either. But nevermind that; welcome back and hello again. In his travels, George picked up a seriously neat new little recording gizmo, and it here makes its début. One immediate effect is that we suddenly go all stereo. We kind of like the effect, but if it drives you all mad — or just annoys some statistically-significant subset of you — we can smoosh it back to mono. We’ll also soon première some on-location footage that the New Gizmo gave us the opportunity to record, out and about. Feedback is always welcome — but even moreso when we go changing things a little.
(1.05) It has been a long time, for which I repeat my apology (above).
(1.20) Fun fact: Magellandidn’t circumnagivate the globe. He only made it just past half way — only (some of) his expedition (eventually) got all the way home. I think the “wonders” in Civilization confused my younger self.
(5.00) Beer of the Week #1:Tribute. Which didn’t even have to come all this way; I’ve seen it on the shelves at Thorndon New World. (Referring to the band as The Motherfuckin’ D is something George and I have done since reading Y: The Last Man.)
(12.15) That’s how topical this one isn’t; the Olympics have mercifully ended.
(13.30) Yep. That’s about right: the output of the Boston Beer Company (usually known just as Sam Adams) roughly equals the entire beer production of New Zealand — something in the order of 300M litres.
(34.50) I have a very involved anti-tipping rant, if anyone’s keen to hear it.
(35.30) “Sleeped”? Getting up in the mornings really has broken me.
(36.30) Listener demographics. Because the internet will drown you in statistics, if you let it. And bonjour, our Mysterious Listener(s) in Poitou-Charentes. Also, I’m not kidding: I totally support D.C. Statehood; no taxation without representation, amirite?
(38.50) “News” will largely be “olds”, since I’m so far behind in posting this. Sorry about that (again, again). Though, fittingly, I’m drinking a Deep Creek ‘Dusty Gringo’ as I type up these notes. Alice did finish the 365 and ring in her own personal new year — and mark its extra day with a homebrew named “Stickler”, just for good form. Although, surprisingly topically, Liberty 365 will get it’s Wellington launch at Hashigo this Thursday (i.e., the 16th).
(42.50) This is a busy time of year. Hence the delay (sorry; again, again, again). IPA Challenge and Matariki have been and gone — but we recorded footage at both, which we’ll post soon. And the “Matariki” trademark is pretty freakin’ bogus, but it seems that the winery does own the marks in the relevant classes — which just means a) they’re over-registering bastards, and b) the Trademark Office dropped the ball, again.
(43.30) Beervana’s now less than a week away, of course. We’ll have the new recording gizmo with us there, too, and will hopefully get some interviews and such.
(45.20) Recommendation: Three Boys Best Bitter. Seriously; have some. And Dale’s Doppelbock, which was delightful winter fuel. And I do love the Thirsty Boys’ haiku.
George and I ventued into the (not really) wilds of Upper Hutt to have a chat with Jo Wood (of Liberty Brewing) and Mike Neilsen (of Tuatara); two homebrewers turned professional brewers (in very different capacities) who still love to get together on a weekend and knock up a random batch of something. We talk about how they got in to brewing, how they each ‘monetised’ it, their favourites and the recurring pains in their respective asses.
We do apologise for the difficulty you might have in hearing us all (well, not me; I’m loud), but we are definitely lacking a bit of Jo Volume and there are booming intermittent glass-on-the-table thumps. Our on-the-road setup is still fairly rudimentary and George had to do the editing quickly before heading away on holiday (though he’s hoping to grab some nicer gear while overseas). Demand-dependent, we might have another crack at the audio when he gets back; let me know how you get on. Cheers!
(1.20) Beer of the Week #1: Rogue ‘Brutal IPA’, bought at New World Thorndon, who really have been massively upping their already-rather-good beer game lately.
(4.00) “No Beer Before Yeast” does sound like a sensible maxim, but last I heard the beer was in okay shape, despite our recklessness. Mike said it was ticking along happily, and should be fit for sampling soon.
(12.30) ‘Darkest Day’ doesn’t seem to’ve made it into my Diary, which is damn-near inexcusable. It was much lighter than the above-mentioned ‘NGB’, but that just made it stupidly drinkable (as opposed to worryingly so).
(16.20) Jo definitely has a love-hate (or hate-hate) relationship with C!tra. George, on the other hand, named it his Favourite Beer of 2011 — and it was a Beer of the Week for the previous episode on Strong Beer (fittingly enough).
(24.50) I have no idea why brewers talk in terms of “hectolitres” — one hundred litres, for those of you who have forgotten your more-obscure metric prefices — other than it making for manageably-nice round numbers when talking about most kit sizes.
(27.20) Welcome to the World, GoldenDog. You’re in good company, with: Golden Bear, Golden Eagle, ParrotDog, Black Dog, Raindogs…
(31.00) My notes from last year’s IPA Challenge are almost entirely absent, owing to my being struck-down with a particularly-bad Man Flu and propped up by the dregs of Wellington’s last legal supplies of blessed pseudoephedrine. George and I hope to be at this year’s edition, recording-gizmo in hand.
(32.50) Recommendations: Brewaucracy / Three Boys new session beers. Inbetween recording and notesing, we did have a chance to try the Three Boys release, and it was exactly what I wanted; allow me (as if you have a choice) to upgrade it to Highly Recommended. And if Jo ever re-brews Taranaki Session Beer, get some.
(47.20) Jo’s Recommendations: Epic, especially ‘Armageddon’ and Pale Ale. The years-old, game-changing Epic Pale Ale is totally worth another look. I’ve had heaps of fun with it, too — and the ‘Reboot’ write-up deserves a read.
(51.30) Mike’s Recommendations: ‘Armageddon’, which prompts Jo (and me) to add: Tuatara Pilsner, especially since its ‘reboot’.
(54.30) Jo and Mike both quickly start throwing large molecule names around when they’re talking about brewing’s minute details. Given their comfort and enthusiasm with them, it just makes me want to learn more chemistry.
(59.30) George’s memory is spot on: Alice Galletly did call Jo the “darling of the craft beer scene”, in her write-up on the Cask Yakima Monster launch at Galbraith’s, fittingly-enough. I (typically) haven’t quite gotten around to posting my notes from the pint I had at Hashigo, but I totally agree with her praise for it.
And now, a brief interlude for a long-lost podcast episode. We recorded shortly before I went away to GABS in Melbourne — and immediately before George and I went along to Hashigo Zake’s marvellous little ‘X-Ale’ festival in the still-empty ParrotDog brewery. I did intend to post it while I was away for bonus location-and-subject-confluence points, but those plans of mine never seem to work out.
We take the chance to catch up a little on the Australian scene, and also celebrate the return of fresh-hop beers, the prospect of new employment (for me, and a certain someone else), offer a few recommendations — and an uncommon word of warning.
(14.30) Moon Dog’s website hasn’t been updated in a while, but I think you’ll get the idea. And if you’re reading about Moon Dog, you should read about weirdo-genius Moondog, especially if you do so while listening to ‘Lament I, Bird’s Lament’ — familiar to most of us, these days, as the basis of a Mr. Scruff track. I’m not sure if the brewery was named after the man. I should ask. It would suit. </musicaldiversion>
(21.55) Best thing I had while I was over there: Bright Brewery Fainter’s Dubbel. Bright is indeed in country Victoria, and this podcast is sammiched between two posted Diary entries that include their beers. So that’s a happy coincidence.
(32.40) Beer of the Week #2: Kooinda Black IPA (7%) Geographically, we were both pretty abysmally off. Heidelberg isn’t where either of us thought it was, but we’ll wear our error proudly and
(35.40) Fresh-hop beers are back! Hopwired IPA mostly leverages Nelson Sauvin and Motueka — not Riwaka. My (minor) bad. And here’s me showing my slackness, again. Garage Project’s ‘Oldham’s Farm’ wet-hop ale has almost all run out, by now.
(39.00) A bine is distinct from a “vine”, it turns out. It’s a matter of how your twisted plant-bit adheres to the thing its climbing upon. Vines use tendrils or suckers of some sort, and bines rely on extra friction from twisting and/or downward-spiking hairs — the word seems to be a portmanteau of bind + vine.
(43.20) I’ve got a post from way back about ‘Brewjolais’, which coincidentally also laments the now-nearly-fixed lack of brewing here in Wellington. And Hashigo did indeed do a night of fresh-hop beers. It was a lovely evening at the pub. Again; sorry for the delay.
(44.30) My retirement still hasn’t been overturned, officially. I’ll let you know.
(45.30) Recommendation #1:Go to a beer festival! X-Ale was a great (boozy!) day, and everything I heard about The Auckland Hop was very positive. And Beervana 2012 tickets are selling fast already…
(47.20) Recommendation #2: Epic ‘Zythos’ IPA. I think the actual constituent hops in the mix is still a proprietary secret. Epic ‘Mayhem’, way back, was a real turning point for me and Luke’s beers. My “one trick pony” reference occurred in my write-up of the Epic / Dogfish Head ‘Portamarillo’ — then the thing that saved them from that status.
(53.00) My first thought was Vinnie Jones, but just because he crossed into the world of Guy Ritchie movies and things and so non-sporty me knew who the hell he was. Robbie Savage — once the ‘dirtiest player in history’ — does seem pretty apt, too.
(54.00) A cautionary note: Stoke Bombers. My first run-in with Stoke and their beers did not go well, and they just haven’t notably improved since, sadly. If you get George and I thinking back to the time we dosed a fucking-horrible Speight’s “Apricot” (scare-quotes mandatory) beer with bacon salt — in a vain attempt to do something to make it less bad — then you’re not in a good way. And the filing does seem to confirm the dickishness of their trademark move; they went for “bomber”, not anything brand-specific, despite it being a long-standing word for pint-plus sized bottles.
(57.40) On the Beer List: Kelly Ryan. (The guy from Stereophonics is Kelly Jones — which makes sense, given his Welshishness, of course.) Now I think I’ve got just the thing for him, and since Kate Jordan happens to be in town, I’ll get her to mule it back towards that end of the island.
Back for a second ‘season’ — are more-or-less arbitrary division, but we watch a fair amount of (good) TV and can’t help but think of things like that — George and I sat down a little while ago to talk about collaboration in craft beer.
We recorded this a while ago — as becomes obvious once or twice from the conversation — but the same things keeping me from blogging Diary entries got in the way of uploading it. My apologies for that, but I’m pleased to report that George already has s02e02 edited and ready to go; I should find time to upload it while I’m in Melbourne — the topic, a little ironically, is “Australia” — or very shortly after I get back.
(19.50) Turned out the unannounced ‘Month of Mild’ was a Fork & Brewer thing, not a Malthouse thing. I tried — speaking of collaborations — a Garage Project / Liberty one, which was rather charming, but didn’t get down the road for more than that.
(27.00) Tuatara have expanded (and relocated) lately, and are getting back in the game. More power to them, I say.
(29.00) Recommendations: Garage Project ‘Pernicious Weed’. Given the lag in posting this, that’s a bit of a tease, but I did see it at The Hop Garden very recently — and I have a single 750ml bottle in my fridge, if you have something to share in return. And Epic ‘Epicurean: Coffee & Fig Oatmeal Stout’. (The Simpsons reference is to s06e16, ‘Bart vs. Australia’, which is utterly genius — despite starting from some flawed physics about the Coriolis effect — and worth re-watching. Amazingly, it’s on YouTube in its entirety as at time of writing. Don’t just skip to the eight-minute mark.)
(33.10) George can’t confirm the purchase of L’Affare by anyone, but we’re fairly certain that Ferrari aren’t involved. They do have cafes in Auckland and Christchurch.
Hardly rushing in to things, we here present our 2011 Year in Review, recorded mid-February and published in the first few days of March. The Oscars for 2011 releases only happened this week, after all, and we don’t have their kind of budget — or Billy Crystal. Instead, we took vague inspiration from the “Golden Pints” lists that popped up around New Year’s, and take the chance to look back on the year past to pick out some themes and some favourites.
(0.55) Admittedly, the gap between this episode and “s02e01” is probably going to be rather-shorter than many of the inter-episode gaps within “season one” — but please, allow us our (many) oddities.
(1.35) Beer of the Week: Garage Project ‘Aro Street Pale Ale’ (a.k.a. ‘Phil Cook Touring Presents: Angry Peaches’) which was vaguely-birthed from our conversation back in the days of Episode V — when we had Oskar Blues ‘Gubna’.
(5.30) How could we — particularly, how could I — not be late with a Year in Review?
(8.00) Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Crowshaw is rapidly amassing a brilliant body of work (this, of course is what happens when you post regularly — he says, chastising himself). He’s largely dropped the ‘Awards’ pretence, but they were great fun. Flash all the way back, for example, to 2008 or 2009 to see for yourself. 2008’s opening rant, particularly, helped me justify to myself the more-freewheeling nature of my Diary entries.
(8.50) Greg Norman was ‘The Great White Shark’, apparently. Points to neither of us.
(9.00) Blog of the Year: Alice Galletly’s ‘Beer for a Year’. We were actually recording, serendipitously enough, the very day she hit halfway. And, speaking of year-long projects worth knowing about, the throw-away reference I made was to the genuinely-entertaining A. J. Jacobs — his The Year of Living Biblically was a Christmas present to me from George and his wife Robyn one year.
(15.50) The “growler” story is developing rapidly… Doubtless I’ll get back to it.
(17.00) 2011, Year of the x: The Beer Bar. I really need to get myself to Auckland and Christchurch to catch up with the scenes, there. It says a lot that, as a Wellington beer geek, I’m starting to get seriously jealous and frequently struck by the “damnit, I’m missing out” feeling. Weirdly, the local new bars didn’t spring to my mind as we were recording, but 2011 saw us blessed with the arrival of The Hop Garden and LBQ (Little Beer Quarter), as well — and not-quite-so-blessed with a few other… shall we say… craft-beer-themed bars.
(23.00) Adrien Brody’s speechreally, unfairly irritated me. It’s a thing, with me — but that might also partially be down to some Roman Polanski-related grumbles.
(29.20) Favourite Beer of Year: Garage Project ‘Day of the Dead’ (for Phil) and Liberty ‘C!tra’ (for George). And it seems I’m not alone —not that that thought worries me, in this field, or many others — the guys at the Garage Project released a little ‘report’ on feedback for the 24/24 series of beers, and “DotD” came out on top. ‘C!tra’ was beer of the week last time, for Episode VIII, and it really was crackingly good fun stuff.
(32.30) George really did (eventually) get this right; he got married in late 2005.
(33.30) Pleasant Surprise: Golden Ticket ‘Black Emperor’, with an honorable mention for Moa Imperial Stout (for Phil) and This Very Podcast Itself (for George). I’m a grumpy bastard in many ways, but I’m no dogmatist; I genuinely enjoy the cleansing feeling of changing my mind, and Black Emperor did exactly that.
(38.40) Best Experimentation: The Yeastie Boys ‘Blondies’, with an honorable mention for the Liberty ‘Blondes’ (for Phil) and The Garage Project itself (for George), with particular nods for their green bean saison and the Grordbort beers. And seriously, flip back to George’s “live” tasting of Rex, way back in Episode III; I think it remains a classic.
(46.30) Best Beer Moment: A three-way tie between Day of the Dead, The Trappist Dance Card, and ‘Angry Peaches’ at the Town Hall (for Phil) and quietly re-discovering ‘Discovery’ at Brühaus (for George).
(52.00) Midstrength News is that I didn’t do my midstrength-related homework. George here is channelling the Thrilling Adventure Hour, a favourite of his.
(52.30) Recommendation: Stone & Wood ‘Pacific Ale’. Pure gorgeousness.
(56.30) Or, you know, two months. (He says, chastising himself again.)
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.
(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.
(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
(7.55) 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.
(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.
(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.