Another winemaker’s beer. And this one seems much more of a go, marketing-wise (in that somewhat-tragic but totally-understandable way that more ‘normal’ / less ‘interesting’ beers are often more marketable).
It’s a very clean lager, like a lighter version of the ‘Weka’ by Moa Breweries (itself another winemaker-offshoot). A little too thin for my liking, but perfectly well-made. These things do make for a good way to begin an evangelism effort — the flavour won’t freak anyone out, and you’re miles better off having one of these than something daft like Heineken — and at least it gets some people over that first hurdle of actually trying things from places they’ve never heard of before.
Verbatim: Knappstein Reserve Lager. 5/10/08 $3.5 @ Markets. Another winemakers beer. Very pale lager, with vanishy bubbles. Very clean lager, a la Weka by Moa. Better for evangelism, but a bit too thin for my liking
I’d previously been given their IPA by Karen & Lee when they visited New Zealand last year, and am always keen to try something from the Dear Old West. It’s a great example of the Australian Midstrength; slightly less boozy, so you can just keep drinking and sitting around passing time with friends for hours on end without getting too blurry — they’re the hot-climate cousin to British “Session Ales”.
This Pils maybe isn’t quite “pilsy” enough for me, but that’s just a matter of labelling. It’s a seriously refreshing bottle of lagery goodness. Toby compared something about the feel of it to having a piece of rosewater Turkish delight. And odd as that sounds, he’s on to something.
Verbatim: Gage Roads Pils. 2/10/08 $3 @ IGA. With sticky rice. Matches brilliantly. Not Pilsy enough for me, but a lovely crisp midstrength lager. Refreshing as all get-out. Toby compares the feel to a bit of rosewater Turkish delight.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: The session-strength segment of the market remains shamefully overlooked here in New Zealand. There is one deservedly-legendary exception in Emerson’s ‘Bookbinder’, and occasional feats of genius like Hallertau’s ‘Minimus’, but still. Too much emphasis on the loopily-boozy in the scene these days.
Verbatim: Pilsner Urquell. 14/5/08, 330ml, $3. At work, trying to write a beer list for “Paris 2.0”. So this is an audition, really. Five stars in the bible. Good, flavourful pilsner. And it’s the original. So full marks. Too bitter for Chloe, but she can see it’s a good’un.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: Ah, “Paris 2.0”, what a great example of Told You So you are. I worked at a pretty-horrible pseudo-British pub for a while (while back at uni, initially) and when it was eventually sold the I’m-not-kidding genuinely-mad woman who bought it sought to resurrect a mid-nineties Wellington staple that had fallen from fashion and was eventually scuppered for insurance money (leading to the pseudo-British place taking its spot). I told them it was a bad idea, but did my best to give them a Notebook Full of Good Ideas Certain to be Ignored. Ignored they were, and the place lasted mere months before being scrapped again. But that did lead to me getting a better job…
(“The bible” refers to one of Australian writer Willie Simpson’s books.)
Verbatim: Founder’s Organic Long Black. $5, 4.2%, 11/5/06, 500ml. Schwartzbier; black lager. Nice dark, with lingering bubbles. You can taste the coffee / choc of the malt. But it’s none too bitter, so accessible. I’d prefer more punch, of course. But very tasty.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: Huzzah, I’ve definitively broken free of the gold = lager / non-gold = non-lager nonsense of my earlier days. Black lagers are bloody marvelous things, great for bending peoples’ boundaries and for their easy refreshingness during colder weather. But what’s this “of course” about the preference for punchier flavours? I almost seem like I’m being blokey. Which is horrifying. Let me be quite plain; I do love a good mild beer, these days. Everything in its right place.
Verbatim: Matson’s Strong Ale. $16/6, 7.5%, 6/5/2006. It’s a bock, and I’m at Fatty’s. Lots of people, lots of Jamie’s Italian Food. All good. Anyway, beer is very good. From Chch, very beery. Can’t quite taste the extra punch. Tanglefooty.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: Six months without a note? This thing is seriously patchy, in its early days. And things are about to get worse… (Meanwhile, the pen from this page is being seriously out-done by the pen from the page before, isn’t it?)
Matson’s have gone through quite a few reshuffles of their range and their branding (landing, currently, on a logo alarmingly reminiscent of that for the Malthouse…), but I do see they’re also fond of that line-blurring nonsense that DB are so fond of — calling a doppelbock a “strong ale”, and all.
It’s here at entry eighteen and nearly a whole year since page one, that my Diary finds its first New Zealand brew. Shows what you get for being a New Zealander living in Melbourne when you start your Beer Diary.
I should add that even now, at the time of the Great Uploading in October 2010, it’s still a bit shameful how hard it is to get good beer from ‘the other side of the Tasman’ — whichever side you’re on. The situation is massively-improved, sure, but still pretty tragic.
Verbatim: Martinborough Brewing: Tora Dark. 330ml, 5%, $?, at home, 11/12/04. “Blerk,” says George. I think it’s great. Rich coffee taste, mild choc. (Goes brillo w/ advent calendar chocolates.) Darkish bubbles, some hanging around. Quite bitter, but in a good way. Mellows out after. (Their lager — which G.’s having — is perfectly decent, too. Heinek-ish.)
Afterthoughts, October 2010: This entire brewery has long since closed down, sadly. And it’s the first such casualty in my Diary (the aged Cooper’s stout was the first ‘retired’ individual beer in the book). A bit of research shows it was a dunkel (a black lager) so we can see that I’m still confused about how colours relate to styles, although that is about to get a whole lot more embarrassing with the next entry…
Verbatim: La Rossa. Birra Moretti. 330ml, $?, at home, 7.2% 7/3/04. Rich brown-red color. Smells dark, almost chocolately. Tingly on my tongue. Very tasty. Round, full and classy as all hell. And it’s Italian. That’s just odd.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: Not sure why I had the beer and brewery names backwards; maybe the effects of it being the strongest beer in the book so far took a hold unexpectedly early. I was certainly massively impressed by this at the time, and have been pretty chuffed with it the few times I’ve had it since.
Verbatim: Zipfer Original. 330ml, $?, at home, 5.4%, 7/3/04. Neat curvy bottle. Smells very beery and lagerish, appropriately. Pale, but gold. G doesn’t like it. I do. Tastes of something, again. Not sure what. Fruit of some stripe. Harsh, in a way I like.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: I think I’d say “punchy”, rather than “harsh, in a good way”, these days. But then, maybe this one would still rate as such, given the palate shift over the years — still, it’s apparently a perfectly-decent example of what it is. It’s also one of those multiply-named beers, going by ‘Urtyp’ as well as the blander-sounding ‘Original’.
Half-way through a little quartet of random imported European lagers, probably reflecting a biggish shipment arriving at King & Godfree.
Verbatim: Krušovice Imperial Czech Prem. Lager. 330ml, 5%, $?, at home, 18/2/04. Gold, bubbles don’t hang around. G says smells like grapes. Light, but sharp. Agree with grapiness. Maybe that was in fashion in 1895, when it won gold.
Afterthoughts, October 2010: It does continue to baffle and annoy me that so many beer labels are still in the habit of lauding medals from decades, or even centuries past.
Verbatim: Pietra Biera Corse – Chestnut beer. 330ml, 6%, ?$, at home, 17/2/04. All in French. Karen can’t even fake a translation. Brown-gold. Batched, it seems. Honey tastes, to me. But I wouldn’t back myself in a pointing-at-chestnuts contest. Where have all those Japanese cultists gone, anyway?
Afterthoughts, October 2010: It turns out that this is also a Vienna Lager, which accounts for the honeyish taste that I spotted. (Not crediting myself with the ability to discern the flavour, or even appearance, of chestnuts refers to the longstanding problem of my astounding level of ignorance about food.) The pondering about “Japanese cultists” comes from the fact that, for a while, Melbourne was peppered with strange roast-chestnut roadside-stall things, almost exclusively staffed by Japanese people, and seemingly doing no business. Then they disappeared as suddenly as they arrived. George and I figured they must’ve been some kind of well-disguised religion.