Tag Archives: from New Zealand

Croucher ‘Hef’, Burleigh ‘Hef’ and Red Hill Wheat Beer

Croucher 'Hef', et. al.
Croucher 'Hef', et. al.

I’m not crash-keen on wheat beers. I mean, I do like several of them very much (Three Boys Wheat is a stand-out example), but I’m rarely quite in the mood — if I want something this light, I usually reach for a golden ale. But that’s just me. It was a stinking hot day, so I indulged myself in a side-by-side(-by-side); I bought the foremost after the Croucher ‘October’ confusion, and had the latter two thanks to my Australian friend Glenn and his duty-free allowance.

I also couldn’t help but put two identically-named beers against each other. I’d have thought that the hefeweizen / Hugh Hefner joke was a common one, but I could only find two others on BeerAdvocate.com.1 I’m torn, deciding a winner on that score — Burleigh put a stonking great moustache on the label, which is awesome, but I thought the Hef himself was pretty much always clean-shaven, which seems to me like Points Off, then.

The variance among the three was quite striking and made for a pleasantly-random scattergun sequence of sips from each — although what amounted to three standard-sized regular-strength beers in quick succession did catch up on me in the heat. Croucher’s was the darkest, tending towards banana cake rather than the habitual-for-hefe fresh banana note. On occasions that side of it seemed too much or just slightly off, but it wasn’t a deal-breaker. Burleigh’s was much more in that ‘classic’ mode with light, fresh fruitiness, and then Red Hill’s threw in what I thought was a pretty noticeable hop sideline — possibly dragging it out of the traditional form, but interestingly so.

My absolute favourite factoid about German-style wheat beers centres on that banana flavour. Learning about how the yeast just coincidentally made that very-familiar ester was an early Beer Nerdery moment for me (tutored by my biochemistry-majoring friend Toby, out on the balcony of the original Malthouse with a Tuatara tasting tray), but the best bit is that the Germans have been making hefe since long before they ever had bananas imported. So where we normally meet the fruit first and then think that the beer tastes like it, there must’ve been a point in history where Germans would first try this odd exotic fruit and say to themselves “damn, this tastes like wheat beer“. How wonderfully odd. I really must try to track down a historical reference.

Croucher 'Hef' et. al.
Diary II entry #43, Croucher 'Hef' et. al.

Verbatim: Croucher ‘Hef’, Burleigh ‘Hef’ & Red Hill Wheat Beer all 330ml + 5%, latter two from Glenn, so I couldn’t resist a comparison on a muggy day. 22/12/10 I should’ve really done a bright sunny day photo, but I’m hiding inside. I wonder how many other tokens of the Hef/e trope there are… But Burleigh get extra cred for the silly ‘tache on their label. Croucher’s darkest, ambery even, then RH, then Burleigh. Taste + smells go: funky (too much?) banana cakey; then lighter, fresher banana: smoother; then light + with a more-present hop sideline (they grow their own Tettnanger @ RH). This is basically science now, right? Amelia’s right that Croucher’s cakeyness is as if the cake has been in the sun too long — a slightly past-it-ness. I’m still not entirely a wheat beer guy, but they do have their place — hot days. Which I usually just try to avoid entirely. And then, nearly a litre of wheat beer inspired some Proper Science; a 3:2:1 blend. Turned out superchoice.

1: And even then — one (‘Head High Hef’ from Breakwater Brewing) hardly seems an overt reference, and the other (‘The Hef’ from Gardner Ale House) isn’t even made any more. More are quite-possibly lurking on RateBeer.com, but my advanced-search-fu was insufficient to bring them out.

Townshend ‘J.C.’ IPA

Townshend 'J.C.' IPA
Townshend 'J.C.' IPA

So yeah, our Christmas Offerings at work included a beer which had burnt pohutakawa1 as part of the process, and a beer named after Jesus for no readily-apparent reason. I just loved the irreverence of that. Of course, it didn’t hurt that both beers were really rather lovely, in their very-very different ways.

Martin Townshend’s teeny-tiny brewery outside Nelson is almost exclusively occupied making same pretty-damn-traditionally-English styles of beer. They’re always well made, and many of them have made very popular guest appearances on one or other of our ‘beer engine’ handpulls.2 ‘J.C.’ is a fair touch stronger than its traditional relatives, but hides that extra oomph worryingly-well in a body of nicely complex, steadily-building hoppy fruit flavours.

Townshend 'J.C.' IPA
Diary II entry #42, Townshend 'J.C.' IPA

Verbatim: Townshend ‘J.C.’ IPA 16/12/10 on handpull @ MH, shouted by a regular (from my horrid old pub, in fact) — and how much more Christmassy can you get than a beer named after Jesus? This and the previous do make for nicely irreverent Holiday Beers. This is a bit hazy, but a nice muted paleish orange colour. Easier to drink than it should be @ 5.8%, the hops are fresh and light in the body but build a nice big bitter finish.

1: Note for aliens: The pohutakawa is the ‘New Zealand Christmas Tree’. It blooms around the right time, and does so with cute bright red flowery things, and so nicely hits the stereotypical colours.

2: We used to always have two dark beers — ordinarily Tuatara Porter and Invercargill ‘Pitch Black’ Stout — on handpull, which always struck me as a bit of a waste. We’ve lately settled into a pattern of one dark (porter / stout) and one brown (IPA or bitter) — much better.

Epic / Dogfish Head ‘Portamarillo’

Epic 'Portamarillo' tap badge
Epic 'Portamarillo' tap badge

I really have turned around on Epic’s beers over the course of a few years. For too long, Luke’s products were just the perfect embodiment of that trend that bored me so horribly wherein More Hops All Other Considerations Be Damned became such a trendy and habitual thing to do. Yawn, I say, despite loving a hop-stupid beer on occasion. I just hate to see one element of a many-faceted thing elevated above all others and paraded about as if it’s the key to everything for all situations.1, 2

‘Mayhem’ met me halfway, being a hop-focussed but actually balanced beer which I really enjoyed, and lately, Luke’s finally gone that final step and made some beers which let other factors entirely take the leading roles. His collaboration with England’s Thornbridge brewery produced a pretty-damn-good stout, and this ‘Portamarillo’ might just be a proper turning point, rescuing Epic from One Trick Pony status. Because honestly, no matter how good any particular pony’s one trick is — yawn.

So. Continuing along the collaboration train, Luke joined forces with Sam Caligione of the famously-experimental Dogfish Head brewery. Working together for part of Sam’s Discovery Channel TV series, they made a uniquely New Zealandish beer by smoking tamarillos over pohutakawa and cramming them into a smooth, boozy porter. Because why not? It sounds ludicrous, but works absurdly well. I drank a lot of it myself, as we quickly went through some two-hundred litres from the taps at work. The porter is relatively light-bodied for its strength, leaving room for the gentle smokiness and a delightfully-random tart fruitiness.

Better yet, they brewed it twice. Double-better-yet, we got to try some of the U.S.-brewed version at work, when we threw a bit of a shindig for the Near Enough Fifth Birthday of the Epic brewery. It was a great little exercise in how much difference little changes can make — the Dogfish version being much smokier, the peculiar ‘sweetness’ you get from heavily-smoked malt stealing the show more from the tart fruit. The U.S. version was only available because Sam had some in his luggage, the Epic batch is still kicking around in bottles in the better sorts of retail outlets; you should get some if you haven’t yet — or just get more.

Verbatim: Epic / Dogfish Head Portamarillo 15/12/10 @ MH, for Epic’s Fifth-ish Birthday. The NZ brew is on tap, and we’ve got a bottle of the US batch to try. It’s an awesomely odd idea: Porter with Pohutakawa-smoked-Tamarillo. The US is darker is body + bubbles and — to me — plays up the smoke more, whereas the fruit is stronger in the NZ. The US has a crazy bitter / spicy late finish, the NZ seems smoother. But I really dig both.

— so then (16/12/10), I was stopped on the street today by a regular who was asking about my blogthing. Which was enjoyably weird. But he also mentioned that Luke’s version was less smoked than Sam’s, because he didn’t want that tail-end astringency. I really must get around to watching the Making Of TV show, but it’s nice to know I was on the right track.

Dogfish Head 'Portamarillo'
Dogfish Head 'Portamarillo'
Epic / Dogfish Head 'Portamarillo'
Diary II entry #41.1, Epic / Dogfish Head 'Portamarillo'
Epic / Dogfish Head 'Portamarillo'
Diary II entry #41.2, Epic / Dogfish Head 'Portamarillo'

1: The same thing, lamentably, happens with my related obsession: Scotch Whisky. There, you get “peat freaks” like you get “hop heads” with beer — indeed, I think there are similarities to be drawn all over the place between peaty whiskies and hoppy beers, but that’s a little too tangential even for a footnote, perhaps. Myself, I love peaty whiskies. But not all the time. Not to the point where in absolutely all cases would I think that a whisky would be improved by more peatiness. So it is with hoppy beer.

2: And don’t you have to worry — at least a little — when you read something adorned with a “Add More Hops” background or a title like “I’m Here for the Hops” or “The Pursuit of Hoppiness” whether you should be discounting (in the sense of moderating-down, not “ignoring”) what they say about beers with a different emphasis? I read all three aforementioned sources avidly, but wish they didn’t position themselves so lop-sidedly. They might defend themselves by saying these things are (half?) in jest — but then, why are all the jokes lined up in that one direction?

Three Boys ‘Aftershock’

Three Boys 'Aftershock'
Three Boys 'Aftershock'

The Canterbury Earthquake was certainly one of the stand-out local news stories of 2010. Given the astonishingly-low levels of harm suffered by people, curiosity was very quickly allowed to return to topics that would always be interesting, but would otherwise seem callous to ask about too soon afterward — things like “what’s going to happen with all those Christchurch beers we like?”

The question was quickly addressed by Wellington beer writer Neil Miller, and by journalist / Beer Nerd / Christchurchian Denise Garland — and the short version of the answer is: not much. Amid some serious and widespread property kablooey, the local craft breweries were relatively lucky.

One particularly-interesting effect of the earthquake, though, was this. Three Boys were back at work a few days after the initial tremor, and were in the middle of a brew of my utterly-beloved Golden Ale. An aftershock interrupted them at a crucial time, but rather than letting it ruin the day’s work and dooming however-many litres to go down the drain, they pulled off some improvising that was as impressive as it is mysterious. The result was named ‘Aftershock’, brewed to an appropriately-memorialising 7.1% — and packaged in cute little bottles adorned with a piece of smashed brickwork (plus a few kegs, sadly brickless).

We had it to cap off the Christmas Dinner for our Beer Club at work. One of the attendees had to go home early, so donated me their share. I really like it. I mean sure, I love the Golden, and the “story” behind this is way too cool to resist — but it’s also, crucially, an inherently worthy thing. Light and fresh, flavourful and interesting, far too drinkable for 7.1% — it has a lot going for it. Its uniqueness and its yumness are seperately sufficient for it to be worthwhile; whether your starting point is the former or the latter, you get the other for free. Lucky you.

Verbatim: Three Boys ‘Aftershock’ 8/12/10 donated flute from Beer Club for waitering their Christmas Extravaganza. 7.1% in honour of the Christchurch quake, an aftershock of which disrupted a brew, leading to the creation of this oddity by the seat of Ralph’s pants. Bottles were adorned with broken masonry, even. It’s just unashamedly odd; and Ralph won’t really be drawn on just how he improvised. A boatload of Green Bullet was suspected… Maybe, but the funk isn’t there, in this glass at least. Steph & Johnnie had a skunkier one at Bar Ed, they say. Whatever the hell it is, it’s crisp, tasty + zingy. But most of the attraction is still the utterly unique story — it’d be worth it just for that, but the beer stands up on its own. (Though you do need the story to justify the price…)

Three Boys 'Aftershock'
Three Boys 'Aftershock' bottle and bottlecap
Three Boys 'Aftershock'
Diary II entry #40.1, Three Boys 'Aftershock'
Three Boys 'Aftershock'
Diary II entry #40.2, Three Boys 'Aftershock'

Croucher ‘October’ IPA

Croucher 'October' IPA
Diary II entry #39, Croucher 'October' IPA

This totally managed to stump a few people and cause a minor nerd-riot, it did. We had two kegs of it at work, and the first went on through a Hopinator crammed full of mandarins1 — à la the rather-successful batch of fruited-up Twisted Hop IPA we’d previously done.

When it was all naked and alone on a regular tap, though, it was totally different. Without the citrus (elements of which you’d ordinarily expect in a big IPA), its massively yeasty self was uncovered. The Overboss just assumed the as-yet-unlabelled tap held a wheat beer from Emerson’s Brewers’ Reserve series (which was due to go on soon), and one Proper Beer Nerd absolutely insisted that it was Croucher’s Hef (also a wheat, perhaps obviously) instead. A quick double-check of the keg fridge assured us against the first possibility, and a side-by-side tasting eliminated the second. I’d been standing there pointing out that none of us had ever had a wheat beer with this level of bitterness before, but was also happy to indulge in a little bit of Science, just to be sure.

What we have, instead, is a very different type of Big IPA. And I’m quite fond of very different, sometimes. The fruit flavours in here, to me, were all rockmelony and summery and ‘uppy’ in that barely-definable way. The funky yeastiness was surprising, but people have been IPA-ifying big Belgian tripels for a while now, so just think of this as taking a run at that same idea from the other direction, perhaps.

Verbatim: Croucher ‘October’ IPA 4/12/10 guest @ MH. 7.5% We had this Hopinated a few weeks ago, on mandarins (or tangerines; there was some dispute, for which I — uncharacteristically, but with good reason — absented myself). It was a pretty tasty + worthy echo of Twisted Hop IPA — and this has the same light uppy fruit side all on its own, too (though obviously the oily bitterness isn’t there / as big). The big fruit note, though, is rockmelon. In a nice way. The Dior of beer, says Amelia, since it goes so well with Natalie’s new perfume. The body is surprisingly light, for its strength. Quite a different Big IPA; more summery.

1: Actually, this beer caused two near nerd-riots. The first centered on just whether the things in the Hopinator were mandarins, or tangerines. As my Diary entry notes, I largely absented myself from that argument — an unusual move, for me, but a running joke among my friends (very much of the “funny because it’s true” kind) is that I know basically nothing about food. I had a niggling suspicion, though, that the argument was poorly-stated; I thought there wasn’t a difference. In the non-embarrassing safety of my laptop on my break, I checked. And was alarmed to find myself nearly right; fighting about the difference between a tangerine and a mandarin is like fighting over the difference between a greyhound and a dog. Mandarin is a higher-level term — they come in many varieites (including tangerine and satsuma).

Tuatara ‘X’ Anniversary Ale

Tuatara 'X'
Tuatara 'X'

Still (mysteriously) Wellington’s only local brewery, Tuatara recently arrived at their tenth birthday and celebrated (as breweries understandably tend to do) by making themselves a beer for the occasion. Essentially, they blammed ‘Ardennes’ up a few notches, landing it at a suitably1 anniversary-ish 10%. It debuted at Beervana and was apparently well received, and we had a few bottles in stock at work to plug the gap in between the availability of kegs.

Despite liking ‘Ardennes’, and also heftierBelgianesque beers in general, this just isn’t My Thing at all, which put me in rare disagreement with some usually-similarly-minded folk. But hey, subjectivity, right? For me, it committed the basically unforgivable sin of being just kinda naff; not different enough from Ardennes, other than in the strength — and that strength just rolls all around your face with its syrupy hotness and ruins any real chance for balance, or depth, or character. It’s your birthday, so you should go a bit crazy, but if your only thought for how to go crazy is to effectively pour petrol into one of your existing beers, something is amiss.

And — maybe that strength is to blame — shouldn’t you also make sure all the bolts are tight on an anniversary release? These things arrived with horribly-wonky labels that made you wonder just how dark it was in the warehouse that no one noticed nor cared, and the text on those misapplied labels also shipped with an awesome typo which cited their use of heretofore-unheard-of boble hops.

Tuatara can do great things; when their beers are ‘on’, they are delightful and accessible local takes on iconic styles of beer — although they really need to get around to admitting to themselves (and the rest of us) that their deservedly-popular APA is now part of the family and not a “limited release” as per the label, since it’s been continuously-available for some eight months. But Tuatara are also capable of alarming bits of rushed decision-making, over-stretching (with a side of corner-cutting), and evident narcolepsy at the switch. ‘X’, sadly, is a product of those latter temperaments — which is doubly depressing for a Birthday Beer.

Verbatim: Tuatara ‘X’ Anniversary Ale 2000-2010 19/11/10 10% 750ml shouted by a customer + shared. Essentially an embiggened Ardennes, it’s an over-strong tripel. Similarly dry, Belgish nose, but not alarmingly fumey. Warming in the face, though. Honey-ish, oily texture. Actually oddly ‘normal’, but with that hot, boozy finish.

Tuatara 'X'
Tuatara 'X' and its oddly crinkly label
Tuatara 'X' and its typo
Tuatara 'X' and its rather neat typo
Tuatara 'X'
Diary II entry #37, Tuatara 'X' Anniversary Ale

1: I’ve commented before on the “borderline numerology” trend among brewers, particularly in regard their own anniversaries and such. I remember it initially striking me as evidencing a lack of creativity, but I quickly decided I liked the obsessiveness and nerdery of it.

Hallertau ‘Minimus’

Hallertau 'Minimus' tap badge
Hallertau 'Minimus' tap badge

A common complaint of mine is that overstrong beers are too much in fashion (or habit), and that midstrength, sessionable numbers are sadly neglected by the local brewing scene. Granted, the stalwart exception to that trend is the utterly bloody marvellous Emerson’s Bookbinder, but still; more options is more good.

A smattering of other sessionable goodies have shown up over the years1 but none so face-meltingly awesome, if you ask me, as Hallertau’s ‘Minimus’. (The name comes from its over-strength IPA sibling, ‘Maximus Humulus Lupulus’.) We had it last summer, motored through it in short order, and continually begged Steve for some more. It’s just lovely; either a very pale pale ale or a massively-hopped golden ale, and is totally sessionable at 3.8% — a statistically-insignificant nudge stronger than Bookbinder, it makes for an awesome summer counterpart to that wonderful stuff. Fresh, light but stonkingly flavourful, it has both thirst-quenching zip and interest-keeping yum in healthy quantities, appropriately hitting some Maximus-esque hop notes quite heavily. Its second incarnation, which came with a ludicrously-beautiful tap badge, is billed as a “Breakfast Pale Ale” — but even if that is a stretch, it’s not by very much.

Speaking of the badge — which is done in bas relief, and goes wonderfully with Hallertau’s gorgeous pseudo-classical rebranding — I actually had to re-scan this Diary entry to capture the amendment I had to make to note that some complete fuckpants stole it, one busy night. If you’re thinking — as I briefly was, I’ll admit — “hey, fair play, that is pretty cool; you don’t secure it well, you’re asking for it to be stolen”, I should add that they also stole all the other badges from that bank of taps, so their haul includes such pieces of naff as a Tiger and an Export Gold badge, I believe. So I doubt they’re some over-keen beer souvenier collector with whom I might sympathise — well, would sympathise, would consider being, even. More just a random fuckpants, as I say.

Verbatim: Hallertau ‘Minimus’ 18/11/10 3.8% back on tap @ work, with a gorgeous new bas-relief sculpted tap badge. Hallertau’s pseudo-classical branding overhaul is awesomely done. And this stuff is lovely. The world needs more good midstrength. It especially needs midstrength this freaking good. [30/11/10: The badge got stolen!]

Hallertau 'Minimus'
Hallertau 'Minimus'
Hallertau 'Minimus'
Diary II entry #36, Hallertau 'Minimus'

1: A few with their own Diary entries, even, but there’s still quite a backlog of historical things in the Not Uploaded Yet pile. Apologies.

Emerson’s Brewers’ Reserve: ‘Grace Jones’ Porter

Emerson's 'Grace Jones'
Diary II entry #34, Emerson's 'Grace Jones'

The Emerson’s brewers are here doing their own version of the Barry White joke I made in reference to their Oatmeal Stout. Not that I’m claiming credit, of course. But it’s nice to have a “thinking alike” moment now and then.

Much like the recent Southern Clam Stout, ‘Grace’ does make for another worthy successor to ‘Barry’ — especially given the texture-smoothifying oats they’ve used here (which were obviously also in the Oatmeal Stout, hence the name). They cite the Anchor Porter as an inspiriation, implying higher-than-usual levels of hops which showed up, to me, as a nicely ‘zingy’ edge around all that delicious chocolate flavour.

I do like Emerson’s London Porter a lot, but also wish they’d put something like this into permanent production — it’d be nice to have a bigger, ‘stoutier’ option on the roster, too. Which does of course bring up the question of stout versus porter, since here’s me saying that this is ‘stouty’. I’d just been reading Martyn Cornell’s masterful mythbusting post on the topic, so it was on my mind and lead to an oddly-heated discussion with some of the Beer Nerds. Myself, I’m perfectly happy with the realisation that a lot of what we Nerds have in our heads about the ‘classic styles’ is alarmingly-modern, actually, and pretty much entirely non-historical. That’s not a big deal; the terms are still useful enough — and this happens to our entire language anyway, all the time. I don’t really see why some people get bent out of shape and spend their time so passionately reifying descriptions that were always pretty loose and negotiable.

You can still be grumpy — and believe me, I am — about egregiously silly unilateral attempts to lock up or modify bits of the beer-related lexicon — he says, looking at you, D.B., and your nonsense-faced defence of the ‘Radler’ trademark you know damn well you should never have applied for, nor been granted — without turning into a total anorak who fights for hard-and-fast distinctions where there needn’t be any.

Verbatim: Emerson’s Brewers’ Reserve: Grace Jones 10/11/10 guest @ MH 6% The Beer Club folks had this, and I scandalised them with the thought (from Zythophile) that there just isn’t a principled stout / porter distinction. They got oddly mad + defensive. Anyhow, I’d had this at Nerding one night a few weeks ago; we all liked it then, but I didn’t diarise it. Is lovely. Very dark, with ruby highlights. Apparently inspired by Fullers & Anchor porters. Pretty worthy, really. Massively chocolatey, smooth (oats!), but with a nice zingy edge.

West Coast Brewing Pale Ale

West Coast Pale Ale
West Coast Pale Ale

My friends and I became very fond of the West Coast beers when we stopped for a night in the tiny town of Blackball, and had more than a few at the ‘Hilton’. Their lager and dark are certainly nothing socks-knocking in craft beer terms, but they’re well made, tasty, and acquired a lot of ‘bonus points’ from the situation and setting, of course. This happens a lot with beer, sociable thing that it is.

Years later, the brewery did a bit of a share float to raise money for some expansion plans. My friends who’d been there at the Hilton — who all have day jobs and who all earn, you know, actual money — bought in. Then it seemed a bit odd that I, as the Beer Nerd, wasn’t in on it, too. So I bought one share off one of them, for the princely sum of 31¢.

So this is how much of a stickler I am for some sort of ‘journalistic’ integrity in beer writing. I have thirty-one cents in a brewery and feel obliged to say so. It drives me bonkers that this basic impulse to declare conflicts of interest isn’t much shared. I can think of several instances of people writing professionally about a brewery or a beer without divulging such probably-pertinent facts as close friendships, occasional employment, or other such potential or actual conflicts. It’s something I’ll have to make more of a stink about sometime soon, and then maybe just start naming names and ‘outing’ the offenders.

Anyway, West Coast recently hired a new junior brewer, and one of his first tasks was to take a crack at a pale ale. I think they did pretty admirably; it’s not overwhelming, but not all pale ale needs to be, and given the ‘pitch’ of their other beers, this will make for a nice little stepping stone without freaking out their core customers. It’s quite moreishly sharp and citrussy, though some Nerdier people did pick out some faulty flavours kicking around in there, too — but this is a first batch, and they do have some seriously-refined brewers’ palates, rather sensitive to these things.

West Coast Pale Ale
Diary II entry #33, West Coast Pale Ale

Verbatim: West Coast Pale Ale 1/11/10 on tap @ MH ?% I feel I have to declare my official conflict of interest, in that I’m the smallest shareholder of West Coast Brewery. Got to know Darryl, the bosses’ son a bit over the years, and he mentioned this was headed our way when he was here at Festival time. It’s pretty damn nice; not aggressive, but more in the Creatures / Croucher mold — the sharpish, in a nice way. Very citrussy, but not one-note. Slightly hazy, nicely tart + refreshing + moreish. I had some of this here on Hallowe’en Eve, when we all dressed up; but I was in no state to make a proper note, then. So I had this while watching the Zombie Episode of Community. Neat.

Croucher Pale Ale

Croucher Pale Ale
Croucher Pale Ale

Saturday brought an end to my Hamilton Expedition, but did compensate me with a lovely drive home down State Highway 4 — I decided I’d done SH1 too often, so thought I’d go around the other side of the Lake. And when I got home, I had a house full of people getting ready for a day-early dose of Hallowe’en craziness.

Peter and I were relatively-lazy with our Hallowe’ening (though him much moreso than me), so we had a bit of time to kill and therefore a beer. We’re both big fans of Croucher’s Pale and I found the new bigger 500ml bottles up the road at Regional. They’re now also brewing at Steam in Auckland, which gives them some extra capacity with which to meet their (deservedly) increasing demand and have a crack at some export markets. These bottles are labelled up ready for the U.S., and I was chuffed to see that Paul’s original (and accurate) tasting note of “delicious burps” has been left intact.

And the beer is just as good as it ever was. Possibly a tad better, if anything. If I had to pin down a difference, I think the fresh, fruity (Cascadey) hops are even more present in the aroma than they were last time I had one. It’s a delicious beer, and was just what I needed.

It deserves to do well overseas, and I think it (and the Pilsner) are a good bet. Exporting to places like the U.S. from little old New Zealand is a tricky proposition. Tuatara took a crack at it a little while ago with their IPA, which I thought was vaguely mad — would the Americans really go for such a relatively-sedate take on the style, given their hop-mad craft beer sensibilities? And Tuatara had their U.S.-labeled beers around a time when they were already stretched to capacity and seemed to be sacrificing conditioning time to meet local demand. Don’t get me wrong, I like their IPA, but it just didn’t seem like the right beer or the right time. Croucher’s more-individual Pale and Pils could well be a better fit.

Verbatim: Croucher Pale Ale 30/10/10 500ml ÷ 2 w/ Peter $6 from Regional 5% At my house after a long drive back down SH4, and while the girls are upstairs getting all Hallowe’en’ed. Apparently production has shifted to Steam, possibly after Kaimai re-took their kit. They’re bottling for the US market now, too. And more power to them. The awesome original “delicious burps!” tasting note has survived, and the beer hasn’t changed much — if at all, for the better. Lush, fruity, yum. Bigger fresh-Cascadey nose, perhaps.

Croucher Pale Ale
Diary II entry #32.1, Croucher Pale Ale
Croucher Pale Ale
Diary II entry #32.2, Croucher Pale Ale